On Your Mark by Dr. George O. Wood
Aug. 31, 2014
Pilate had Jesus flogged before handing him over to the soldiers. This flogging (v. 15) was far different from that experienced by Jesus in the hearing before the high priest. There Jesus was spit on, blindfolded and struck with fists (14:65). As grievous as that treatment, it was child’s play compared to what our Lord now experienced.
After Pilate’s flogging, the soldiers could have led Jesus away to crucify Him. Instead, they took the moment as an occasion for sport.
I remember as a child in northwest China watching a puppy that some boys had thrown into the river. As it valiantly tried to swim to shore, the boys pelted him with rocks just as he was about to get to safety. I watched horrified.
The scene has never left my memory. I was powerless to prevent it, and that moment engraved itself on my mind as an example of the extraordinary inhumanity we see every day somewhere in the world.
But when you witness the mistreatment of Jesus by grown men, the boys’ cruelty pales in comparison to what the Romans soldiers did to Jesus. They assailed Him through taunts and violence.
The taunts are three. First, they put a robe on Him that was of the color worn by nobility — purple. Second, they mock Him with what they believe to be a slur on the Jewish people whom they have subjugated — “Hail, king of the Jews.” They not only mocked Christ by doing this, they mocked the Jewish nation, in effect telegraphing their feelings that if the Jews produced a king he would be helpless and hopeless like this condemned prisoner. Third, they ultimately knelt on their knees, feigning obeisance to Him.
The violent acts against Jesus are also three in number. First, they put a crown of thorns on His head. The needle-like spines of the crown dug into Jesus and made His head bleed and throb with excruciating pain. Second, they kept striking Him on the head with a stick — again and again. The stick or staff drove the thorns further into His scalp and brow, striking Him not only there but on His face as well. Third, they continually spit on Him.
From the beating before Pilate and the violent acts in the palace, Jesus back had been flayed and massive hurt had been inflicted upon His head.
Little did the soldiers realize that the One whom they mocked was indeed the King — not only of the Jewish people, but of all humanity and for all time. Despite this dishonoring, Jesus spoke amnesty to them from the cross: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34).
What amazing grace from Jesus, and a reminder to us that we also practice grace to those who mistreat us.
A prayer of response
DR. GEORGE O. WOOD is general superintendent of the Assemblies of God.
On Your Mark