Then did they spit in his face, and buffeted him; and others smote him with the palms of their hands, saying, Prophesy unto us, thou Christ, Who is he that smote thee?
— Matthew 26:67,68
And the men that held Jesus mocked him, and smote him. And when they had blindfolded him, they struck him on the face, and asked him, saying, Prophesy, who is it that smote thee?
— Luke 22:63,64
If we’re going to get the full picture of what happened in Caiaphas’ chamber that night when the religious leaders were spitting on Jesus and striking Him in the face with their fists, we need to pull all the pieces of this picture together from both the Gospels of Matthew and Luke.
Luke 22:63 says, “And the men that held Jesus mocked him, and smote him.” I want you to particularly see the word “mock” in this verse. It comes from the Greek word empaidzo, which meant to play a game. It was often used for playing a game with children or for amusing a crowd by impersonating someone in a silly and exaggerated way. For instance, this word might be used in a game of charades when someone intends to comically portray someone or even make fun of someone. This gives us an important piece of the story that Matthew didn’t include in his Gospel account.
Even before He had to endure the spitting and vicious beating of the scribes and elders that night, Jesus was also severely beaten by “the men that held” Him. This doesn’t refer to the scribes and elders, but to the temple police and guards who kept watch over Jesus before Caiaphas examined Him.
In addition to everything else that was going on that night, these guards decided they would take advantage of the moment too. The Bible doesn’t tell us how these men mimicked and impersonated Jesus that night, but the use of the Greek word empaidzo categorically lets us know that these men turned a few minutes of that nightmarish night into a stage of comedy at Jesus’ expense. They put on quite a show, hamming it up as they almost certainly pretended to be Jesus and the people He ministered to. Perhaps they laid hands on each other as if they were healing the sick; or lay on the floor and quivered, as if they were being liberated from devils; or wobbled around, acting as if they had been blind but now could suddenly see. Whatever these guards did to mock Jesus, it was a game of charades to mimic and make fun of Him.
When they were finished making sport of Jesus, Luke tells us that these guards “smote him.” The word for “smote” is from the word dero, a word used frequently to refer to the grueling and barbaric practice of beating a slave. This word is so dreadful that it is also often translated to flay, such as to flay the flesh from an animal or human being. The usage of this word tells us that even before the scribes and elders got their hands on Jesus, the guards had already put Him through a terrible ordeal.
Immediately after the guards were finished playing their charades and brutally beating Jesus, the scribes and elders began to spit in His face and whack Him on the head with their fists (see April 14). But the elders didn’t stop there. They blindfolded Jesus and began to strike Him on the head again, taking their humiliation of Him to the next level. This represented Jesus’ third beating.
If we only read Luke’s account, we might conclude that this third beating was also at the hands of the guards. However, when we compare and connect Luke’s account with Matthew’s account, it becomes clear that by this time Jesus had already been transferred into the hands of Caiaphas and his scribes and elders. What we read next in Luke 22:64 occurred after these religious leaders had already spit on Him and hit Him (Matthew 26:67).
Luke 22:64 says, “And when they had blindfolded him, they struck him on the face, and asked him, saying, Prophesy, who is it that smote thee?” The word “blindfolded” comes from the Greek word perikalupto, which means to wrap a veil or garment about someone, thus hiding his eyes so he can’t see. We don’t know where the blindfold came from. It could have been a piece of Jesus’ own clothing or a garment borrowed from one of the scribes and elders. But by the time they finished wrapping Jesus’ head in that cloth, He was completely blinded from seeing what was happening around him.
Just as the guards played charades at Jesus’ expense, now Caiaphas with the scribes and elders played blindman’s bluff at His expense! Once Jesus was blindfolded, “they struck him on the face.” The word “struck” is from the Greek word paio, which describes a strike that stings. A more precise translation might be “they slapped him on the face.” This is the reason the Greek word paio was used, for it referred to a slap that caused a terrible sting.
After slapping Jesus, the scribes and elders would badger Him, saying, “…Prophesy, who is it that smote thee?” Here we find that these so-called religious leaders got so caught up in their sick behavior that they sadistically enjoyed the pain they were putting Jesus through. They slapped Him over and again, telling Him, “Come on, prophet! If You’re so good at prophesying and knowing things supernaturally, tell us which one of us just slapped You!”
Finally, Luke 22:65 tells us, “And many other things blasphemously spake they against him.” The word “blasphemy” is from the Greek word blasphemeo, meaning to slander; to accuse; to speak against; to speak derogatory words for the purpose of injuring or harming one’s reputation. It also signifies profane, foul, unclean language.
When Luke says they “blasphemously spake,” he is talking about Caiaphas with his scribes and elders! Once these religious leaders “took off the lid,” every foul thing that was hiding inside them came to the top. It was as if a monster had been let out, and they couldn’t get it back in its cage!
Jesus had told these religious leaders earlier, “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleaness” (Matthew 23:27). In the end, the death and uncleanness in their souls came raging to the top as they screamed and yelled at Jesus using profane, foul, unclean language.
I’m sure that if the people of Israel had been allowed to sneak a peek into that room that night, they would have been horrified to see their supposedly godly leaders slapping Jesus, spitting on Him, slapping Him again, and then screaming curses right in His face! Here these leaders were — all dressed up in their religious garb, but inwardly so rotten that they could not hide their true nature anymore.
So let me ask you two questions:
- Are you serious in your relationship with Jesus Christ, or are you, like those who held Him that night, simply playing games with Him?
- When other people start playing around with your mind and emotions, are you able to follow Jesus’ example by holding your peace and loving them in spite of the torture they are putting you through?
Let’s covenant together from this day forward to never be like the backslidden religious leaders in this story. How terrible it is to outwardly look beautiful but to inwardly be so ugly! To avoid this scenario in our own lives, we must make the commitment to be serious in our relationship with Jesus and absolutely refuse to play games with God.
And should you ever find yourself in a predicament similar to the one Jesus faced — in other words, if people are emotionally abusing you or taking advantage of you — then call out to God to strengthen you! He will give you the wisdom to know when you should speak, when you should be quiet, and exactly what steps you must take. When you find yourself in this kind of tight place, just be certain to guard your mouth and to let the Holy Spirit dictate your emotions so you can demonstrate the love of God to those whom the devil is trying to use against you.
Jesus is the perfect Example of how we must behave in all situations. Although He was blasphemed, reviled, and cursed, He never fought back or allowed Himself to be dragged into a war of words. For this reason, Peter exhorted us to follow in Jesus’ steps: “For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth” (1 Peter 2:21,22).
Today you can make the decision to come up to a higher level in your commitment to Jesus Christ. You can refuse to play games with God or to deceive yourself any longer about your own spiritual condition. The truth about what is in you will eventually come out anyway, so take an honest look at your soul now to make sure there are no hidden flaws that will later come rising up to the surface!
Why don’t you open your heart right now and let the Holy Spirit shine His glorious light into the crevices of your soul? Allow Him to reveal those areas of your life where you need to get to work!
My Prayer for Today
Lord, I never want to play games with You. I am asking You right now to forgive me for any time that I have lied to You and to myself, deceiving myself into believing that things were all right in my life when, in fact, they were not inwardly good at all. Please shine Your light deep into my soul to show me any areas of my life that need immediate attention. And, Lord, I also ask that You give me a strong desire to read through all four of the Gospels so I might better know the life of Jesus and how I can be more like Him.
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
My Confession for Today
I declare by faith that God gives me the wisdom to know how to respond when I am in a difficult predicament. I know when I should speak, when I should be quiet, and exactly what steps I must take. When I find myself in a tight place, I don’t give way to my emotions. Instead, I guard my mouth and let the Spirit dictate my emotions so I can demonstrate the love of God even to those whom the devil is trying to use against me!
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
Questions to Answer
1. Do you have areas in your life where you are playing games with God and deceiving yourself about your own spiritual condition? Isn’t it time for you to get honest with God and with yourself about these problem areas?
2. Have you ever experienced times when the monster in your flesh that you hadn’t yet dealt with came crawling to the top, causing you to behave in a way that was shocking even to yourself?
3. Since reading the Gospels is the best way to learn how to become more like Jesus, don’t you think it would be a good idea for you to carefully read all four Gospels from beginning to end?