Sticks, Stones and Words

Mar. 27, 2012

Luke 23:35-37

The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is God’s Messiah, the Chosen One.” The soldiers also came up and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar and said, “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.”

We see the peak of the opposition to Jesus. I imagine the folks basically spitting their sneers towards Jesus. He’s hanging on a cross and dying. What can he do in retaliation? Very little. Almost nothing.

Growing up, I remember being told and saying to myself, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.” While this sounds great when you are 8 or 9, believing this at any age is really much more difficult. This is because words do hurt. I’m confident you can quickly recall a situation in which spoken words still hurt you to this day.

“Let him save himself,” the crowd roars. The remark drips with sarcasm. In tense situations, we often use sarcasm. Sometimes it does break the tension, sometimes it ignites a laugh. But I’ve also been the giver and receiver of sarcasm that only hurt and offended more. In these situations, we often dig deeper holes then mend the broken relationships.

As these events unveil, I cannot help but imagine Jesus reciting various Old Testament scriptures in his mind. He’s now fulfilling these words. Observe:

All who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads. “He trusts in the Lord,” they say, “let the Lord rescue him.” (Psalm 22:7-8)

Psalm 22 is a prophetic lens into Jesus’ crucifixion. Turn to it this day. Read all the words. Underline lines and phrases that remind you of the crucifixion story. This Psalm was a hymn the Jewish people sang when they felt abandoned by God. We hear the people abandon Jesus with their words. “How could have their words not hurt?” I wonder. And then I’m humbled by the times my words have hurt others. I’m dismayed that I’ve used sarcasm too often to deflect a tense moment and it didn’t work. Try as I might to save myself in these situations, I can’t.

I would not have been as strong as Jesus. The crowd’s hurtful words would have broken me and humiliated me. I would have prayed for a speedy death, just to escape their hurtful snares.

But then again, Jesus wasn’t just a human. He was the Messiah, the Chosen One. Thanks be to God.

Let us pray: But drops of grief can ne’er repay the debt of love I owe; Here, Lord, I give myself away, ‘tis all that I can do. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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