Scourging and Abusing the King
When I was twelve, every Thursday afternoon we had a rodeo in Pottersville, NY,. and I was part of the entertainment. I would walk out into the middle of the dusty arena and do some roundhouses with a ten-foot bullwhip, cracking it like a canon. Then a friend would walked out with a rolled newspaper and extend it in his hand while I used an overhead crack of the whip to bite away inch by inch at the roll, making sure to stop before I hit his fingers or hand. One day I missed. I knew I was off target. The leather caught his knuckles, and he started bleeding. It was a nasty cut. I got firsthand proof of a whip’s power to do serious damage to human flesh. The Romans put pieces of bone and metal into the knotted leather straps they used to torture their victims on the way to crucifixion. Matthew states that Pilate handed Jesus over to his soldiers and they scourged Him, but they did far more.
Leading Him into Pilate’s Praetorian headquarters, they gathered their entire cohort, six hundred to a thousand men, and began to taunt Him. They stripped off His clothes, put a scarlet robe around His shoulders, twisted a thorn bush into a crown and jammed it down on His head, and the final touch -a common rod in His hand to be His royal scepter. Then they acted out their burlesque.
"Kneeling before Him, they mocked Him, saying, ‘Hail, King of the Jews!’" - (Matthew 27:29
They spit on Him and took the mock scepter and beat Him.
When the report became public about what some of our soldiers did at Abu Ghraib prison, the world exploded in anger and condemnation of the abuse. How could such a vicious thing ever happen? Eleven soldiers were convicted, officers demoted, and others relieved of command. We want to believe that changing procedures, improving environments, and putting in place greater accountability will banish this kind of behavior. Few want to face the truth and admit that the source of this vicious, murderous evil lurks inside our own hearts. We are all the Roman soldiers and this is why Jesus had to die in our place. Ironically, as the Roman soldiers mocked Jesus, they were prophesying the truth. He is the King of the Jews and far more. He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
LORD, help me allow your Spirit to expose the darkness in my own heart that can cause me to mock others, especially when I’m with my “in” group where we all understand one another. Help me see the power of a cohort when they are out to have a good time at the expense of another. Help me get down on my knees not to mock but to worship You not only as the King of Kings, but as my King.
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