The prophet Isaiah described One who willingly suffered cruel and unusual punishment. “I hid not my face from disgrace and spitting,” He said. I don’t know about you, but if someone were about to spit in my face, I’d do everything I could to avoid it. I couldn’t imagine just standing there and allowing myself to be covered in another person’s saliva, especially if I saw it coming.
But that’s exactly what Jesus does. He hid not His face from disgrace and spitting. He was mocked, beaten, and spit upon, even by you. Every time you sin, you spit directly in the face of your Lord. In telling you to live by His Commands, He’s only seeking your good. But instead you’ve spit in the face of His Law, instead seeking good in all the wrong places.
In John 12 Jesus said, “Now my soul is troubled.” And could you blame Him? Who wouldn’t be troubled to be repaid such evil for good? As you ponder what your Lord suffered for you, consider the possibility that your sin, your spitting in His face, is what caused His soul the greatest distress, even more than the physical agony of the cross.
No doubt the scourging, the thirst, the thorns in the head and nails in hands and feet were painful, not to mention the very slow, agonizing death by crucifixion. A little spit in the face is certainly not as physically painful by comparison, even though it’s repulsive. But Jesus’ love for you is so great that He didn’t hide from those things. He didn’t turn His face from the spitting. He didn’t say, “Father, save me from this hour.”
As great as the physical pain of the cross was, it pales by comparison to the pain Jesus experiences every time you defiantly spit in His face. The physical pain your sin causes God is described in Genesis 6:
The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the LORD was sorry that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart (Genesis 6:5—6).
Moses tells us that our sin agonized God to His heart. This agony is no small thing. Moses uses this very same word to describe the agony of an epidural-free childbirth, one of the most physically painful experiences a person can have in this life. Our sin causes God pain even greater than this, but He hid not His face from it. They offered Jesus a sedative on the cross, an epidural, if you will, but He refused.
Scripture correlates the pain God feels when we sin against Him, when we spit on His Law, not only to the agony of childbirth, but also to the unspeakable pain of rape. Genesis 34 describes the outrage of Jacob’s sons with Shechem when he sexually assaulted their sister Dinah by saying:
The sons of Jacob had come in from the field as soon as they heard of it, and the men were indignant and very angry, because he had done an outrageous thing in Israel by lying with Jacob’s daughter, for such a thing must not be done (Gen 34:7).
Words cannot describe the deep pain that is caused by such a horrific thing. “Such a thing must not be done,” Moses says, and yet it was. Sin is no less a violation of God’s Word, and your sin wounds Him unspeakably: “such a thing must not be done.”
Jesus could have stopped the procession on Palm Sunday and yelled at the crowds for their hypocrisy, knowing that their Hosannas would shortly turn into cries for His blood. But His love for His wayward children is so great that He went forward in silent pain, hiding not His face from disgrace and spitting. He saw it coming, but still He went forth in silent pain. What could He say? Words cannot describe the deep pain your sin causes Him.
Look upon the cross and repent. See the pain that your sin causes Jesus, pain that is no less severe than labor pains or the anguish Dinah’s brothers felt when she was raped.
But consider also that Jesus suffered all this willingly for you, that He hid not His face from the spitting. If He didn’t, you would still be guilty of the highest treason there is. It’s one thing to spit in the face of a peer; it’s another to spit in the face of the King.
But this is a King whose compassion exceeds your wickedness, whose love is far greater than your treachery. For when He does open His mouth, it is not to spit back, but to say:
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid (John 14:27).
It is a remarkable love indeed that allows itself to be spat upon, trampled, and crucified. Such is your Lord’s love for you.
Soli Deo Gloria
+Rev. Eric Andersen
Monday of Holy Week: He Hid Not His Face from Spitting