Recently all eyes were turned to the Pamplona. What? Haven’t you heard of the bulls of Pamplona? A game and ritual played out by the bravest and most daring of men whereby….
Thousands of thrill-seekers dashed ahead of six fighting bulls in the streets of the northern Spanish city of Pamplona today in the first running of the bulls in this year’s San Fermin festival.
Miraculously no one was gored, but one person was hospitalized after falling in the sprint, said Spanish Red Cross spokesman Jose Aldaba. In all, four people needed treatment by medical staff.
The bulls, from the Torrestrella farm, accompanied by six guiding steers charged down the 849 metre course from a pen to the city’s bull ring in two minutes and 30 exhilarating seconds.
Runners, wearing traditional white clothing and red handkerchiefs around their necks, tripped over each other or fell in the mad rush but avoided getting caught out by the charging bulls.
There were some unexpected moments as one of the steers separated from the pack and charged back towards the starting gate, sending runners scattering after they thought their dash was over.
Another steer stopped and laid down on the pavement near the end before eventually being guided into bullring, where the six bulls will take part in the afternoon’s bullfight.
While enjoying a few minutes of adrenaline rush watching the bulls of Pamplona tattoo their hoof prints on backs and leave afew bemusing lacerations in trunks my mind wandered to another set of bulls -the mighty bulls of Bashan.
But first to understand the context follow me down to calvary. Of the seven utterances of Christ on the cross, the fourth in sequence was in fact a quotation from Psalm 22—indeed, from the opening words of the psalm. As death approached, Jesus remembered the psalm that was prophetic of His own ordeal. He cried out the opening words for all to hear, then kept silent while the psalm continued to pass through His mind. Why did He apply the opening words to His own case? Why did He say that God had forsaken Him? He meant that because He bore our load of sin, God had indeed turned His back upon Him. A gulf of alienation divided the Father and the Son for the first time in all eternity.
From these verses we infer that the speaker is a man who is undergoing severe anguish, caused mainly by His alienation from God. The predicament suggested here is exactly what Jesus suffered as He took the Father’s hatred for our sin upon Himself.
Psalm 22: 11-13
11 Be not far from me; for trouble is near; for there is none to help.
12 Many bulls have compassed me: strong bulls of Bashan have beset me round.
13 They gaped upon me with their mouths, as a ravening and a roaring lion.
From these verses we learn that the speaker has no ordinary enemy. He sees some of the mockers around Him as “bulls of Bashan”.
Bashan, the high tableland east of Galilee, was famous for its rich fields and pastures. Its teeming herds of well-fed cattle no doubt supplied many of the bulls sacrificed at the Temple in Jerusalem. So, it is likely that the epithet “bulls of Bashan” expresses how the dying Jesus would perceive the chief priests who stood jeering Him as He hung on the cross (Matt. 27:41). The Temple where the priests worked was essentially a slaughterhouse. Perhaps their hands and clothes smelled like the blood and burning flesh of bulls. Jesus may have perceived them as bulls for another reason also—because like bulls they were dangerous, mean-tempered, and ignorant. Although He was dying for these wretched examples of humanity, and although he desired their repentance and salvation, He saw them realistically. As God, He knew what they were.
I sometimes feel thats what I was; kinda bullish -mean tempered, dangerously ignorant and desperately wicked. Yet it fascinates and deeply intoxicates me to know that Christ died on that cross for bulls like me too.