Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the governor’s headquarters, and they gathered the whole battalion before him. And they stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on his head and put a reed in his right hand. And kneeling before him, they mocked him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” And they spit on him and took the reed and struck him on the head. And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the robe and put his own clothes on him and led him away to crucify him. As they went out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name. They compelled this man to carry his cross.
(Matthew 27:27-32 ESV)
Yesterday Jesus was condemned to death by crucifixion by Pontius Pilate. The normal process was for the victim to first be whipped until the skin on His back was removed then to be nailed to a wooden cross. But in Jesus’ case, after being whipped, the soldiers went beyond protocol and made a mockery of Him for their own amusement.
They first presented Jesus before the whole battalion, which comprised about 600 men. There they stripped Him naked and put a scarlet robe on Him. They put a crown of thorns on His head (which would have added to His already intense pain) and a reed in His right hand. They then offered Him mock praise.
A king would normally wear a robe, wear a crown, and hold a scepter. But each of these items were used in a way of mocking Jesus, who claimed to be a king. Jesus was nothing but a joke to them. Eventually their mocking turned to cruelty as they spit on Him, and struck Him on the head.
No one enjoys being ridiculed and it’s hard to imagine anyone going through this humiliation, especially being weakened and in intense pain from just being scourged. It’s even more difficult to fathom that this was God who was being mocked and mistreated.
But this is a deep truth. God suffered on our behalf. All of Jesus’ sufferings in this scene and in ones that follow, were vicarious. He suffered not for His own sins, but for ours [1 Peter 2:22-24, 3:18; Hebrews 9:28].
The fallout from sin is eternal separation from God. That is what each one of us deserves, yet none of us has the ability to save ourselves from that dreadful experience. We cannot erase or make up for our own sin. Anytime we sin we are doing permanent damage to ourselves [Jeremiah 2:22; Hosea 13:12]. So God, out of His immense love for us, took it upon Himself to have the penalty for our sins paid by His son so we could avoid an eternity separated from Him [John 3:16].
Jesus was condemned, though innocent, so we could be acquitted of our guilt. He was scourged so we could be healed [Isaiah 53:5]. He wore a crown of thorns so we could wear crowns of glory. He was stripped naked so we could be clothed in righteousness [2 Corinthians 5:21]. He was mocked so we could be blessed.
It was on account of our sinfulness that Jesus’ blood was shed. All the suffering that Jesus went through was undeserved. He was without sin. Yet He took on the penalty of our sin so we would not have to pay that penalty ourselves.
It is a sobering thought to realize that it was our sin that caused Jesus’ pain and humiliation. Our sin whipped His back. Our sin pierced His scalp with a crown of thorns. Our sin drove the nails into His hands and feet. How much, therefore, should we hate our sin and want to turn from it.
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