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In the very early morning hours on Thursday of Passion week Jesus was found guilty by Caiaphas and supporting members of the Sanhedrin whom he could count upon to follow his lead for what he and his father-in-law Annas advocated was the greater good of the nation (see Joh 11:49-50), but that was actually motivated by greed and envy, and a lust for their own personal good.  The verdict was never in doubt, only the charges for which this inquisition was gathered in the dark of night.  At the first light of day they would then present their findings to a formal gathering of the Jewish ruling council to add an appearance of legitimacy.  But that was only a formality.  For having orchestrated the process after the manner of the Gentiles, Caiaphas already knew it would rubber stamp their findings in order that Jesus might be handed over to the Romans and put to death before the start of their Passover celebration later that day.

Now, having truckled to Caiaphas’ influence and taken his lead to condemn Jesus to death for claiming to be who He in fact was, what does Matthew record that they then did to Him?  See Mat 26:67-68.  How do such actions contrast with those of a truly just society that makes every effort to ensure the innocent are never condemned as guilty, and even then, only in sorrow delivers a fellow countryman up to judgment without adding to his discomfiture?  What do such actions demonstrate about the malice of their hearts and their real intentions?  What do such actions and the motives they reveal also teach us about the importance to true justice of treating with dignity even those whom we view as clearly guilty?  Even upon those who are truly guilty, does true justice ever involve exacting our own vengeance?  See Rom 12:19.  Besides they themselves, i.e., the Jewish leaders from the Sanhedrin gathered with Caiaphas, who were the others Matthew mentions in Mat 26:67-68 that joined in, following their lead?  See Mar 14:65.  What does this again teach us about the importance of godly, servant leadership for the example it sets in God’s kingdom, as opposed to the example communicated by the leadership in the world’s kingdoms?

What is expressed by spitting at someone, especially in their face?  See Num 12:14, Deut 25:9, Job 30:9-10.  Is there any greater way to express one’s utter disdain for someone?  In what way does such action against Jesus reflect not just an indifference or even a lack of respect, but the complete contempt the fallen world has for God and His ways?  Was God or Jesus surprised by such contempt?  See Isa 50:6, Mar 10:34.  Should any who seek to follow Christ in the ways of God be surprised if the world scorns them in the same way?  Observe that the Scripture records that later the Roman soldiers would also spit on Jesus (Mat 27:30), but here records that these Jewish religious leaders actually spit in His face; how is it that those closest to God and His truth would express the greatest contempt for Him, even more than the world in general?  What does this remind us about the greater responsibility that those have who have been entrusted with truth, and the greater darkness and judgment to which they shall be given over for turning their backs on that truth?  See Jam 3:1, 2Th 2:10-12 and think: what greater remorse might one have for all eternity than knowing that in response to the greatest expression of God’s love he spit in His face?  Cf. Mat 27:3-5.  If we don’t know and love the truth, even though it causes us to suffer, is it possible that we too could be given over to believe a lie and become so deceived by our love for the world that we too could spit in God’s face, having a similar contempt for the expressions of His love?

What else is recorded in Mat 26:67 that Jesus’ accusers did to Him?  What does this remind us both about the way that the world deals with those whom it presumes to be guilty, and why such is not appropriate for those who are led by God’s Spirit?  Cf. 1Pe 2:20 (harshly treated, NAS) for the same word translated here as to beat with the fist, as well as 1Co 4:11 (roughly treated) and 2Co 12:7 (buffet or torment) for how Paul was treated in the same way.  Note too that while the word that communicates He was “slapped around” could also mean that He was beaten with rods in classical Greek, here it likely means that they were slapping him in the face: notice in Mat 26:68 that hit means literally to strike or wound with a sting, such as that of a scorpion; cf. Rev 9:5.  What had Jesus earlier taught His disciples to do in such a situation?  See Mat 5:39, where the only other instance of the Greek word ῥαπίζω translated here as slapped is found in the New Testament.  Although it is completely contrary to our fallen human nature that wants to strike back in such circumstances, what does Jesus’ example teach us about what He meant when He said to turn the other cheek?

In addition to the physical abuse they meted out to Jesus, what else did those who had already found Him guilty also do to add to His suffering?  See Mat 26:68.  Although not physical, what sort of suffering does such mockery cause the afflicted?  What does this remind us about the manifold torments Christ’s followers can expect as they seek to establish His kingdom in this world that is diametrically opposed to it?  Cf. Joh 16:33.  What is the great danger of mocking and making sport of God’s servants?  See Jdg 16:25-30, 2Ki 2:23-24, 2Ch 36:16.

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