Jesus Surrounded by Bulls

Jesus Surrounded by Bulls

Jesus Surrounded by Bulls.

“… I am scorned by everyone, despised by all people. Everyone who sees me laugh at me and jeer; they curl their lips in contempt; they wag their heads in scorn…. Many bulls have surrounded me; the strong bulls of Bashan have encircled me and hemmed me in… The wild dogs are all around me, and a pack of evildoers have closed me in.” (from Psalm 22; a psalm of David).

Psalm 22 is known as the Psalm of the Cross. It is clearly messianic, perhaps the most messianic of all the psalms. The psalm gives the reader a glimpse of Christ’s Passion. David perfectly, prophetically anticipated the suffering of Jesus a thousand years ahead of time. It is written in the first person, so the reader is allowed to read the mind and feel the heart of Jesus in His suffering. For those of us who wonder what it was like to experience the Passion, this psalm gives us a graphic and accurate idea.

The famous bulls of Bashan were renowned in that time for their immense size, their brutal strength, and their fierce temperament. In the psalm, David refers to their usual strategy as predators. When they were wild, these bulls were known to surround their next victim, hedging it, hemming it into their circle, and then attacking their victim in full force. That’s what David felt like with his enemies around him, and that is what the messiah would feel like as well a thousand years later.

As prophesied, Jesus indeed experienced the bulls circling Him as they stalked their prey. Wherever He went during His Passion, He could easily have felt that way in His helplessness.

The Sanhedrin. Soon after His arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus was bustled along to a “hearing” before the Sanhedrin. This was a council of 70 religious elders who were responsible for the leadership of the Jewish community and the ongoing affairs of the Temple. As they looked closely at this man Jesus before them, they began to spit on his face. Then they slapped Him hard on the face and punched Him with their fists. All during this time they were mocking Him with vicious ridicule. They even sneered at Him claiming to be a prophet, jeering at Him to prophecy who of them was going to hit Him next. (Matt. 26:67-68). Jesus, surrounded by bulls.

The Roman Soldiers. When Jesus was helplessly captured and at the mercy of the Roman soldiers, they surrounded Him, reached out to viciously strip Him, jammed a painful crown of thorns on His head, placed a scarlet robe on Him, knelt before Him, and mocked His kingship, sneering “Hail, King of the Jews!” They continued to spit on Him in disgust, struck Him with reeds repeatedly on the head, and taunted Him as they led Him to be crucified. (Matt. 27:27-31). Once again, Jesus is surrounded by the bulls of Bashan.

On the Cross. Naked, seriously wounded and helpless as He hung on the Cross, people just walking by the scene noticed Him and hurled insults at Him. They taunted Him and jeered Him without mercy. And these were merely passersby who weren’t in the least involved in the crucifixion. Not to be outdone, the leading Temple officials surrounded Jesus hanging for dear life on the Cross, gasping and wheezing. These religious leaders mocked Jesus without any sense of empathy for a man who was being tortured to death. Remember these were the Temple leaders, the chief priests, the elders, the Torah scholars, and the Temple scribes. They all jeered at Jesus, ridiculing Him, even quoting Scripture against Him, Psalm 22 (verse 8) of all things! (Matt. 27:41-44). Jesus, fulfilling Psalm 22, surrounded by bulls ready to devour its enemy.

The Demonic Spirits. But that’s not the last time we think about the bulls of Bashan in Christ’s Passion. Most biblical scholars agree that human bulls were not the only bulls to surround Jesus on the Cross. Through the Hebrew Bible, bulls were representative of evil spirits, of pagan worship. The bull was worshiped and held high in idolatry, including Baal and the Golden Calf. The spiritual realm was well aware of what was transpiring at the Cross. The Cross of Christ had monumental importance in the whole spiritual world. So demonic spirits surrounded Jesus on the Cross, along with the taunting human bulls encircling Him as He hung there. Evil spirits encircled Jesus, spiritual forces that hemmed Jesus inside their circle of contempt. The demons not only seemed to have their way with all the mockery around Jesus, but they no doubt started to sense a victory in the making. The evil spirits not only wanted to join in the fun of torturing God’s Son, they wanted to be a part of His death. They wanted to make the ministry of Jesus meaningless, they wanted to invalidate all of Jesus’ claims to be the Messiah, and they wanted to end the talk of Jesus being the king of the world. There is no doubt that demon spirits surrounded Jesus on the Cross, the strong, fierce bulls of Bashan circling their prey. Thes spirits were ready to finally be a part of the death of God’s Son, a spiritual triumph. The taunts that the human bulls threw at Jesus were undoubtedly nothing compared to the taunts that came straight from hell. They saw Jesus going down for the count, and they wanted to revel in the triumph. In the end, of course, the demons were taken for fools. The demons might have smelled a victory, but it wasn’t long before they suffered the ultimate defeat. For there was a bigger circle surrounding Jesus, bigger than the human bulls mocking Him, bigger than the demonic spirits taunting Him. Jesus was surrounded by a much larger and stronger circle, the arms of the Father. The enemies of Christ drew what they thought was a sufficiently large circle around Jesus. But God drew a bigger one yet. Remember the verses toward the end of Psalm 22, the Psalm of the Cross, “The Lord has not ignored or belittled the suffering of the afflicted; He has not turned His back or hid His face from him; the Lord has heard his cry for help when he cried to Him.” (Ps. 22:24). Sometimes we forget that the last few verses of David’s amazing messianic prophecy is just as relevant as the first verses.