When Jesus said this, one of the officials nearby struck him in the face. “Is this the way you answer the high priest?” he demanded. John 18:22
When Jesus was questioned by the high priest about the nature of his teaching, he said, “Why do you question me? Question those who have heard what I spoke to them. They know what I said.” That answer incurred the wrath of the guard, and he reached out to strike Jesus, saying, “Is that the way you answer the high priest?” Can you imagine hitting deity and accusing him of being disrespectful? Jesus, who knew this guard when he was formed in his mother’s womb, was struck by his own creation?
We all perish for lack of knowledge. In our ignorance we strike out. We become enraged by anyone who threatens us and end up saying things we regret. But strike out at Jesus?
I identify with the guard who bristled at Jesus’ words. There were times when faith would have been spiritually becoming but instead, I let God have it. “How come that is in Your Word? What else do you want from me?” I thought God to be unreasonable. Knowledge of scripture outside of the context of a loving relationship made God appear severe. I really didn’t know His heart at all.
This morning, I cringe, remembering the times I elevated my thoughts above God’s. I even felt some relief after mouthing off at Him, yet he loved me in spite of it all. I understand that I have been the hotheaded guard who struck Jesus and I’ve also been the one who helped drive the nails through his hands. It was my sin that required Jesus to pay for the cost for my rebellion. On Maundy Thursday, that knowledge makes me sober and ashamed all over again. It’s good to remember. Forgiveness need always be specific.
For all I know, the guard that struck Jesus might have come to saving faith. No matter the offense, the cross is the symbol of extravagant forgiveness for every sin that would have kept us from God forever.
The next time I struggle to forgive, I will remember that You did not hesitate. I am Your workmanship, being shaped into a radical forgiver. In Jesus name, Amen