After Pilate had given in to the crowds and ordered Barabbas released, Jesus was flogged (Mark 15:15) and then led to the praetorium where all the soldiers were called together (Mark 15:16). They toyed with Him by putting a purple robe around Him, fashioning a painful crown of thorns and pressing it upon His head. Then they openly mocked Him, calling out, “Hail, King of the Jews”, as they struck Him with poles and spat in His face (Mark 15:17-20).
Jesus, bleeding from His flogging, in great pain from the multiple beatings He had endured through the night by the Jewish guards and now the Roman soldiers, and humiliated by all along the way – including those who had claimed to be His friends – was now going to be put to death, naked on a cross. A kind of death which reflected God’s curse upon Him (Deut. 21:23).
What had Jesus done to have all this suffering brought upon Him? According to the Jewish law, He was guilty of blaspheming God by claiming equality with God as God’s own Son. The High Priest, the teachers of the law and the scribes – all experts in messianic prophesy – did not seem to be concerned about the evidence that Jesus was indeed Messiah. They were concerned that their wealth and position was threatened if Jesus were indeed the Messiah. They knew in their hearts that Jesus was the prophesied Messiah, but they could not see past their pathetic little lives (and it really was pathetic compared to God’s promises of Israel’s national prominence).
Any of us could be like these Jewish leaders, like the guards and Roman soldiers – even like Pilate – today. We must examine our thoughts, our attitudes, our words and actions every day, not just to discern what it right, but also to be aware of how we should respond to those who are wrong. Some are doing their best and others are doing their worst – if they are wrong we only give them strength and resolve. If we are cruel we only demonize them for our own purposes. Our capacity for evil strengthens our enemies and escalates their capacity for evil in return. But our firm, measured response – in love and in truth – will lead to a peaceful resolution.
We all hurt others whether we ever realize it or not. And we’ve all been hurt, whether the one who hurt us meant to do so or not. Only when we examine our own hearts can we move past the hurt and heal. Jesus knew this and as a result He was uniquely qualified to redeem the world from God’s wrath – brought on by our own sin nature. Now He calls on us, His redeemed, to teach His ways and to be an example of Christ.