“Then they spat in His face and beat Him; and others struck Him with the palms of their hands, saying, ‘Prophesy to us, Christ! Who is the one who struck you?'”
– Matthew 26:67-68
This event was an awful one for the Lord, who did nothing to deserve to be treated this way. In fact, this would be a terrible way to treat any human being, even if all the reasoning in the world said that they deserved it. There is no doubt that the high priest and other leaders were driven by pure hatred. How can any human soul become so dark with hate?
I would venture to guess that none of these men at Jesus’ mock trial ever started out thinking they would end up beating the Messiah, or anyone for that matter. In Leviticus, when God establishes the Tabernacle and its services, the priests were there to serve the Lord and the people. They were to lead the people in worship of the Lord. They were there to present cleansed souls before their Maker. So, what had changed from the time of Leviticus to the story in Matthew? According to God and His law, nothing! But according to man’s heart towards the Lord and others, everything!
Proverbs tells us that there are seven abominations to God. Two, in particular, are “hands that shed innocent blood” and “a heart that devises wicked plans.” Did these Jewish men forget this scripture? Did they overlook it to accomplish what they wanted? Could it be that their hearts were so hardened by this point that this scripture never even crossed their minds? I think so! How did they then get so far away from God’s original design to love others? They did not watch their hearts!
The Bible tells us to watch our hearts with all diligence because what we put into it is what comes out in our speech and conduct. Jesus proclaims forgiveness towards others, even towards those who hate you. If you allow hatred and jealousy to grow within you, it becomes a sin when it is fully developed (James 1:15). And, when it is fully developed, you may just find yourself spitting in the face of another human being and beating them with the palms of your hands. Maybe not physically, but verbally is just as bad. When you do that, you are doing it to Jesus Himself because He said how you treat others is how you treat Him!
“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’ But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment.'”
– Matthew 5:21-22