My Dear Friend,
In these uncertain times when the entire world is experiencing some form of “future shock,” I hope that today’s message will encourage you to keep trusting Jesus and not to lose faith in the people with whom God has blessed you. Thank you for your prayers for one another and for our church. As always, you are loved and you are missed!
Love in Christ Jesus,
“The high priest asked Jesus about His disciples and His teaching. Jesus answered, ‘I spoke openly to the world…in secret I have said nothing. Why do you ask me? Ask those who have heard what I said to them. They know what I said.’ And when He had said these things, one of the officers who stood by struck Jesus with the palm of his hand, asking, ‘Do you answer the high priest like that?!’ Jesus answered him, ‘If I have spoken evil, then say it was evil. But if rightly, why did you strike me?’” John 18:19-22
On Unexpected “Slaps in the Face”
Most of us are familiar with the expression, “It was like a slap in the face to me.” It means that without warning, something happened that was swift, hurtful, and unexpected. This is what happened to Jesus. The high priest asked Jesus a question, Jesus answered truthfully, and, bam! The guard hauled off and slapped Him in the face!
Unlike modern, scientifically-oriented people who always demand an explanation, Jesus rarely asked, “Why?” He didn’t ask God, “Why?” because He trusted Him implicitly. And He rarely asked people why they did the things they did, or said the things they said, because He already knew the answer.
But in this scenario, we have a different response: “Why did you strike me?” Even then, of course, He indeed knew the real reason the guard slapped Him. But in this case, could it be that Jesus was taken by surprise? In His humanness, for Jesus to be asked a question, to answer it honestly, and then to be suddenly, without warning, slapped in the face, it may have come as a shock.
Several years ago, as I was driving to my home, I saw a dog from my neighborhood lying in the middle of the road. Someone had obviously struck it with their car. Blood was streaming from its mouth. Quite adorable, with the head and face of a fluffy teddy bear, this dog was normally gentle and friendly. Not yet having learned what a state of shock can do to the psyche, I moved my hand toward the dog’s face in order to caress and comfort it.
I still have the scars in my fingers from when the dog, in a state of shock, shocked me by biting them. I was only trying to help! But the dog’s response – swift, hurtful, and unexpected – came as a slap in the face to me.
This experience taught me a life lesson: Whenever in a state of shock, wounded animals – and wounded people – may unintentionally strike back at me, even if I was not the perpetrator. But it would be unwise to allow that bite by the canine in shock that day – for which I still carry physical scars – to cause me to lose faith in “man’s best friend” in the future.
Likewise, despite the shock that caused Him to ask, “Why did you strike me?,” Jesus did not allow this literal slap on the face to prevent Him from proceeding with His mission. Nor did He lose faith in imperfect humans to carry forth His message of love.
In this dark and difficult era in which we now live, the world is full of unexpected shocks. And if we are not careful, one shock will lead to another. So let us learn from Jesus what God allowed a wounded dog in a state of shock to teach me: Do not be angry. Do not strike back. Do not become depressed by all the shocks you see and experience. And most of all, do not allow all the unexpected “slaps in the face” to discourage you from proceeding with your mission for God.
“Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake in Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding great joy.” 1 Peter 4:12-13 (NKJV)
Keep walking with Jesus, and come that glorious day when we shall behold Him, we, too, will be glad with exceeding great joy!