At this time of year, the thoughts of both practicing Christians and salivating Chocoholics turn to Easter. Never mind the fact that the Catholic Church is buried up to its neck in filth, corruption, hypocrisy and vice, millions of people across the world are contemplating what Easter means to them and some are considering what Easter must have meant to Jesus.
With this in mind, it might be instructive to think about what actually happened to Christ on the cross. It may be remembered that the Roman soldiers thrust a vinegary sponge on a stick at Jesus’ face...
And straightway one of them ran, and took a sponge, and filled it with vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave him to drink.
Similar reports can be found in Mark (15:36) and John (19:29). Luke has it that they offered him vinegar but he fails to mention the stick and sponge. This is a crucial omission – and misses the point of the exercise although he does concede that Jesus is being ridiculed.
And the soldiers also mocked him, coming to him, and offering him vinegar.
The Methodist John Wesley (1703-1791) is equally confused, believing that the Romans were intending to be kind:
Vinegar and water was the usual drink of the Roman soldiers. It does not appear that this was given him in derision but rather with a friendly design…
(John Wesley – Notes on the New Testament 1755)
The Victorian artist, James Tissot (1836-1902), even managed to depict this scene with the sponge on the wrong end of the stick.
By way of illustration, consider this rather grisly account of another alternative use of the sponge on a stick:
There was lately in a training-school for the wild beast gladiators a German, who was making ready for the morning exhibition; he withdrew in order to relieve himself – the only thing which he was allowed to do in secret and without the presence of a guard. While so engaged, he seized the stick of wood, tipped with a sponge, which was devoted to the vilest uses, and stuffed it, just as it was, down his throat; thus he blocked up his windpipe, and choked the breath from his body. That was truly to insult death! Yes, indeed; it was not a very elegant or becoming way to die; but was it more foolish than to be over-nice about dying? What a brave fellow! He surely deserved to be allowed to choose his fate! How bravely he would have wielded a sword! With what courage he would have hurled himself into the depths of the sea, or down a precipice! Cut off from resources on every hand, he yet found a way to furnish himself with death, and with a weapon for death.
(Seneca – Moral Epistles c.62)
There is, of course, lots of scatology in the Bible – much of it the Old Testament. As a parting seasonal present, here is a picture of an Easter bunny made of manure and a few links to some other Lavatory Reader blog posts you may find of interest.
The Ark of the Covenant and the Philistines' Piles
Pissing Against the Wall
Eating Faeces and Drinking Urine
How King Saul Shat Himself
The Worship of Baal – the Dung God
What the Pharoah Did in the River Nile