Then they spit in his face and struck him with their fists. Others slapped him and said, “Prophesy to us, Messiah. Who hit you?” (Matthew 26:67-68)
In our men’s Bible study we wondered whether Jesus would have felt seriously ticked off at those clowns who were hitting him. Was he furious? How badly would he want to retaliate?
Or was Jesus so far above all our own normal reactions, so ethereal, with a beatific look on his face, that he blessedthe spitters without one second of hesitation, even as the saliva dripped down his face?
We know that Jesus was a real man who underwent the same temptations we did. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. (Hebrews 4:15)
So there was something real about Jesus resisting the temptation to bust their heads when he had the chance to retaliate. He had real gut reactions to things. Yet he did learn how to control his reactions: Picture him learning to handle the situations he faced while working as a carpenter — like how to ask for payment from someone who had not paid their bill on time without blowing his top and screaming at them and getting red in the face and yelling “Don’t you realize who I am ??”
His training consummated with being able to deal with the people who wanted him dead. He knew ahead of time that he would get outrageous, lying, unjust opposition. Yet he knew that death was an important part of God’s plan for him and for the world. So he was thoroughly convinced that the spitters and mockers were part of God’s will. Because of that deep conviction, he could take what they dished out without lashing out and busting their heads.
Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered and once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him (Hebrews 5:8-9) His obedience led all the way to Jesus’ death on a cross. And this life of submission and restraint is our rescue. We are thankful that Jesus put up with beating and mockery without taking revenge into his own hands. For on Easter he was raised from the dead bringing us eternal salvation!