What follows is an excellent devotional thought from Todd Friel of Wretched Radio. I highly recommend you take a few moments to read it.
Prepare to cringe. There is a rumor spreading around the internet that suggests the sponge that was used to offer Jesus sour wine while He hung on the cross was actually used Roman toilet paper (Matthew 27:48).
It seems that a sponge attached to a stick was indeed used as a personal cleaning apparatus in first century toilets. However, nothing in the Gospel accounts indicates that the sponge used by the Roman soldiers to deliver Jesus a bitter drink was one of those devices.
Regardless, while this particular detail is inclined to make us recoil, this particular ignominy is no greater than the countless other offenses Jesus suffered on our behalf.
Our God is infinitely holy. Any offense against Him is an infinite offense. Whether it is a grotesque gesture like a toilet paper sponge shoved in His face, or failure to bow to Him as King and Lord, any affront is infinite. We blanch at a possible detail like this, but Jesus endured profound humiliations beginning with His conception.
The Royal One of Heaven allowed Himself to dwell in a woman’s womb. He permitted Himself to be delivered in afterbirth. He was circumcised. He insisted on being baptized by a sinful man. He was called a son of the devil. His human heart was broken as the multitudes turned their back on the King of Glory.
The most aggressive attacks against the Kingship of Jesus occurred at the crucifixion. Twenty-six chapters of Matthew’s Gospel demonstrate that Jesus of Nazareth is the King of Kings. When we reach chapter twenty-seven, we see the willful humiliation of the King intensify.
The Jesus who created the world allowed His creation to bind Him with ropes. Absurd. He showed submission to a pathetic ruler who had been given authority over Him. A murderer was chosen to be released instead of Him. The very people He came to rescue chanted, “Crucify Him.” These were the same men and women He had healed and fed.
In derision, the soldiers stripped God and placed a scarlet robe on Him. This was not to acknowledge His kingship, but to mock it. While Tiberius Julius Caesar Augustus was portrayed with a wreath on his head on Roman coinage, the true King had a crown of thorns smashed onto His. The very reed the soldiers placed into the hands of Jesus to ridicule His Kingship was then used to smash the King’s head.
The punches and spit flew as the derision climaxed with the mocking chant, “Hail, King of the Jews.” The very King of the Jews who wrote that criminals should be executed outside of the camp allowed Himself to be brought outside of Jerusalem to be completely “cut off” like a criminal (Daniel 9:26).
Was Jesus offered sour wine on a toilet sponge? It doesn’t matter.
No greater shame has been born and no greater love has been demonstrated. All of this, and infinitely more, was endured by the Savior so that you and I might be saved and God might be glorified. Amazing obedience. Amazing humility. Amazing grace.
May you have a contemplative Good Friday.