“Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the common hall, and gathered unto him the whole band of soldiers. And they stripped him, and put on him a scarlet robe. And when they had platted a crown of thorns, they put it upon his head, and a reed in his right hand: and they bowed the knee before him, and mocked him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews! And they spit upon him, and took the reed, and smote him on the head. And after that they had mocked him, they took the robe off from him, and put his own raiment on him, and led him away to crucify him.”
Jesus suffered! Jesus’ suffering was because of sin—my sin. The penalty of divine wrath is earned by my sinfulness and by each and every sin I commit. God made Jesus, His only begotten Son, to be my Substitute, my Mediator. This made it necessary for Him to bear completely all the penalty that my sins deserve.
This is the confession of everyone who was given to Jesus by the Father and to whom is given the gift of faith to believe in Him. This confession of sin and of faith is ours especially as we commemorate Jesus’ death.
Jesus endured God’s wrath both directly and indirectly. He suffered it directly all His life, but especially during the three hours of darkness in the early afternoon of His crucifixion. It was then, as in no other time in His earthly life, that He tasted and endured God’s anger against all the sins and the sinfulness of all the elect.
He tasted God’s wrath indirectly when reproached by humans. He suffered in this way when He was contradicted by sinners, when a murderer was preferred before Him, when He was stripped naked, when His face was slapped, when He was crucified outside the camp. He suffered God’s wrath indirectly when He was scourged and mocked by the Roman soldiers.
Jesus was scourged. Usually, only those sentenced to death were scourged. But Jesus was scourged before He was officially condemned. This was an attempt by Pilate to arouse sympathy from the people so they would be willing to let Jesus go. This is what the Roman governor was indicating when he said, “Behold the man!” ().
The custom was that the one to be whipped would be stripped of his shirt, and then his hands were tied around a pole so that his back would be stretched. Then he would be beaten with a whip, which usually had lead in its tips. This would lay open the flesh of the back of the victim.
The scourging was done by the Roman soldiers who were on duty in the common hall of the governor’s palace. These soldiers had escorted Jesus into the hearing before Pilate, and then to and from Herod. Now instead of just doing escort duty, they could be involved in a sport. It was a break from the routine, and an opportunity for evil entertainment. What had to add to their enjoyment was the fact that Jesus was a Jew—one from a nation they hated for making their lives miserable.
Jesus suffered physically. For Him whose conscience was perfectly sensitive to God, this suffering was for the sins of His people.
Jesus certainly suffered from the physical abuse, but worse was the cruel and derisive mocking. The soldiers found it humorous that the charge brought against Jesus by the Sanhedrin was that He declared Himself to be a king. They incorporated this into their fun by giving Jesus the appearance of a king: a purple robe, a reed for a scepter, and a crown made up of thorns. They pressed the crown on Him, driving the thorns as deeply as they could into His head. They mockingly saluted Him: “Hail, King of the Jews!” They bowed down before Him, as if to give homage to a king. They utterly despised Jesus by heartlessly slapping His face, spitting on Him, and hitting His crowned head with the reed/scepter. Jesus suffered.
The soldiers represented the kingdom of this world. The kingdom of this world despises the kingship of the Christ. They show that they consider His rule to be utterly foolish and entirely worthless. They found it impossible to conceive of Him as a king. Their mockery, biting insults, and cruel treatment truly reflect the thought of all natural men.
Jesus suffered. This reproach hit deeply into the soul of Jesus, for He really was and is King. In fact, He is King of all kings and Lord of all lords. But His kingdom is spiritual and not earthly. It is a kingdom obtained by righteousness—not by mighty power. And He rules over all in His kingdom in righteousness. His kingdom is not of this world. This was precisely Jesus’ testimony to Pilate: “Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth” ().
But such a King and kingdom meant absolutely nothing to the soldiers. They were only able to recognize earthly, physical might. As such, the soldiers represent all earthly concepts of a king: physical dominance that earns the right to be served and obeyed for the king’s selfish pleasure. But Jesus stands in the middle of these soldiers with no human power and with no sword. King Jesus bears reproach. He gives His back to them. He suffered.
King Jesus established His right to rule and His kingdom as the Servant of Jehovah! Let us recognize the fact that no one could have heaped reproach on Him without His will! He definitely had the ability to turn it aside and to execute vengeance on His enemies. And this He could have done with the flash of His eyes, or with a single word of His mouth. This He demonstrated the previous night in the garden of Gethsemane, when the band that came to arrest Him fell down before Him.
See too that Jesus’ suffering is voluntary. It is completely an act of His will, arising out of love and obedience to His Father. This is His righteousness. He bears reproach of the soldiers as the Servant of Jehovah—doing so for the sake of God and for the sake of God’s righteousness. Jesus established His kingdom according to real justice—God’s justice and righteousness. It was for the sake of all the citizens of Jesus’ kingdom that God’s justice had to be satisfied and perfect righteousness earned. He established a kingdom by doing the will of God. He is a king who served, instead of being served. And thus He established a kingdom where the citizens are judged by the perfect Judge to be righteous and holy. To become King, Jesus had to take away Satan’s spiritual right to rule, and He did so according to divine justice. This required Him to obey His Father perfectly by bearing completely the penalty earned by the sins of His citizens and by earning perfect righteousness for them.
Christ’s bearing the reproach of the evil soldiers is a mighty royal deed! The flesh says that He is a weakling to be mocked, beaten, and rejected. But from the viewpoint of the eternal, He is the mighty Servant of Jehovah, doing the will of His heavenly Father and establishing righteousness for His citizens in God’s way. He is allowing Himself to be bruised in the heel by the serpent that He might crush the head of Satan forever!
This suffering attitude and action of the Savior condemned the world in the judgment of God. When God raised Him from the dead, God justified Him who was reproached by the world, thus condemning these soldiers and all the world of the ungodly.
Finally, see that Christ bore the reproach of the world by putting all of His confidence in the Father. He knew that God would never put Him to shame. And He trusted the Father to clothe Him with majesty forever. He knew that soon He would be given all authority in heaven and on earth. He knew that He would be revealed as King of kings before whom every knee will bow in actual worship and adoration, all to the glory of the Father.
Jesus endured the suffering, despising the shame, in order that we might be delivered from eternal torments. He suffered innumerable reproaches that we might never be confounded. He was bound that we might be freed. He was innocently condemned to death that we might be acquitted before the judgment seat of God. He willingly bore the world’s reproach, offering Himself as the sacrifice for all of our sins and sinfulness, thus redeeming us. He was derided that we might have honor and glory forever!
He suffered. And we are blessed forever!