Something occurred to me that I never stopped to consider as I read about Jesus’ mistreatment in John 18. An officer for the Sanhedrin, forever anonymous, is memorialized with only these words: “One of the officers who stood by struck Jesus with the palm of his hand…” (22). Was it sheer irreverence? Was it misguided religious fervor? Was it hotheaded impetuosity? No matter how one might rationalize it, this man slapped the Savior! While Roman soldiers struck Him with their hands, no less an offense to Almighty God, the man in John 18 was presumably a religious man. He expressed indignation on behalf of the High Priest, though Jesus said nothing at all offensive to Him.
What a terrible and difficult thing it is to read and consider, with an open heart, the physical pain and mistreatment Jesus suffered en route to the cross. But how much worse would it be to be able to understand that you had a hand in it. Several have conjectured that some of those who heard Peter preached on Pentecost may well have lent their voice to the fracas, clamoring and yelling for Jesus’ crucifixion. What a burden of guilt to bear! But, to be the man who slapped his own Creator in apparent contempt? What a stigma to own!
While it would be impossible for you and me to be a part of that specific physical brutality, it is possible, as the writer of Hebrews later states, to crucify Jesus again and put Him to an open shame (6:6). To know that my conduct, speech, attitudes, and interactions in this world might not only bring shame but outright assault on my Lord humbles and challenges me. At the very least, it ought to make us careful about what choices we make, habits we form, entities we support, and causes we champion. How helpful it would be if I take the time to examine my circumstances of the moment and ask, “Is this a slap in the face of my Savior?” If I know it is, I will flee it. If I am not sure, I will think long and hard before I do it! I don’t want to be co-immortalized with that unnamed officer! I want those who see me to say that I am carefully, lovingly handling Christ!