Jesus Mocked and Scourged, 27:27-32
According to Matthew and Mark, Jesus was taken by the soldiers into the common hall, the praetorium, which was thronged with Roman soldiers. There, they stripped Him and mocked Him by putting on Him a purple robe and a crown of thorns. The indignities included being spit upon and being repeatedly beaten on the head. A parallel account is given in Mark 15:16-20, but Luke says only that Pilate delivered Jesus “to their will” (Lk 23:25). The fullest account is found in John 19:1-16, where the actual order of events which took place is given.
Putting the accounts together, it seems that Pilate himself observed and supervised this abuse of Jesus. His motivation was to degrade Him and to make His claim as a King of the Jews to be ridiculous. It is probable that Pilate hoped by this means to get off without actually having to order the crucifixion of Jesus. While Matthew introduces this idea of crucifixion in 27:26, John 19:16 makes clear that the order for crucifixion came at the end of the mockery rather than at the beginning. Matthew is simply recording the facts without necessarily giving the order of events.
That Jesus was submissive to this entire procedure is the measure of His total submission to the will of God. Here, the Lord of glory, capable of destroying anyone who put a hand upon Him, allowed Himself to be abused in this painful and humiliating way. Although the Scriptures are graphic, even they state only the essentials. The prophet Isaiah anticipated this when he stated in Isaiah 52:14, “His visage was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men.” Jesus was beaten about the head and the body until He was almost unrecognizable.
Few incidents in history more clearly illustrate the brutality in the desperately wicked heart of man than that which was inflicted on Jesus the Son of God. The mockery of the crown of thorns, painful as well as humiliating, His being stripped naked in front of the large crowd; the mockery of the purple robe, intended to represent a kingly garment; His being spit upon and beaten over the head repeatedly as well as the mocking worship testified to the unbelief and sordidness of the actors in this situation. It was only after enduring all of this in complete silence, except for the conversation between Christ and Pilate recorded in John 19:8-11, that Jesus was finally led away to the crucifixion.
As the custom was, the accused had to bear His own cross. Luke 23:26-32 records some of the incidents that occurred on the way to Golgotha. Because of Christ’s suffering, He was too weak to carry the cross Himself; and Simon of Cyrene, who is identified in Mark 15:21 as the father of Alexander and Rufus, was forced to carry the cross for Jesus. Some believe he was black, not of Jewish background. The hour had come for the Lamb of God to die for the sins of the whole world.
The Mistreatment of the King (Matthew 27:26-32)
Beginning in Matthew 27:26 and continuing through verse 44, the teacher and students can make a list of all the things that were maliciously done to Christ, either physically or verbally.
The Roman scourge is mentioned in verse 26. This consisted of a short wooden handle to which several thongs were attached, the ends equipped with pieces of lead or brass and with sharply pointed bits of bone or other sharp objects. The stripes were laid especially (not always exclusively) on the victim’s back, bared and bent. So hideous and severe was this punishment that sometimes the victims would die before ever getting to the cross. The body was at times torn and lacerated to such an extent that deep-seated veins and arteries—sometimes even entrails and inner organs—were exposed. Those who were Roman citizens were not allowed to be scourged. Roman law laid no limits on the number of blows to be administered (the Jews were limited by their law to 40 blows, and to be safe they stopped at 39--see 2 Cor. 11:24). The Lord’s weakened condition following scourging may help to explain why He was unable to bear His cross all the way to Calvary.
The treatment of Christ by the Roman soldiers is given in verses 27-31 and may be summarized as follows:
They robed Him (v. 28) with a scarlet-purple robe. Throwing this around the scourged Saviour must have been uncomfortable indeed.
They crowned Him (v. 29) with a crown of thorns, pressing it upon His head. They sceptered Him (v. 29) by placing a sturdy reed in His hand, for a King must have a scepter.
They adored Him (v. 29) in cruel mockery. A soldier would drop to his knees and say, “Hail, King of the Jews”, then another would take his turn and still another until all had shared in this “fun.”
They spit upon Him (v. 30), a truly vulgar and despicable form of ridicule.
They hit Him (v. 30). Before any of these mockers vacates his position in front of Jesus, he removes the stick from the hand of the victim and strikes Him on the head with it, as if to say, “What kind of a king you are! One that gets hit over the head with his own scepter!”
It is sobering to remember that these soldiers will have another day to stand before the King, even at the Great White Throne Judgment. There will be no mocking then. There will be no spitting then. Hell is at the end of a Christmocking, Christ-rejecting life.
Simon was forced to carry the cross (v. 32 “compelled”). The Lord Jesus also carried the cross as we learn in John 19:16,17, but not for long. Sheer physical exhaustion made it impossible for Him to carry it very far.
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