Today’s Scripture – May 17, 2017

Matthew 27:27-31 (NIV) Then the governor’s soldiers took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole company of soldiers around him. They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head. They put a staff in his right hand and knelt in front of him and mocked him. “Hail, king of the Jews!” they said. They spit on him, and took the staff and struck him on the head again and again. After they had mocked him, they took off the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him.

The Roman soldiers had no sense of honoring the condemned, or of respecting their rights. They knew that this man, now barely able to stand before them, bleeding profusely from the violent scourging that He had just been given, would be dead before sunset. So, to further dehumanize Him in their minds, and thus make their own job of killing Him easier, they relentlessly mocked Him.

They knew that the main charge against Jesus was that He was the king of the Jews. In fact, they had already been given the placard that had the charges written on it in Greek, Latin, and Aramaic. This placard would be carried in front of Jesus as He was led out to the execution place, and then nailed over His head on the cross itself. So they mocked Him as the king, dressing Him in a scarlet robe, and even plaiting a crown out of thorny branches, which they pressed into His scalp. They placed a staff in His hands, and then knelt in front of this faux ruler as if they were really devoted to Him.

But they quickly tired of the game, took the staff away, and then beat Jesus repeatedly over the head with it, and spit in His face. Despite their mocking show, there was no way that this pathetic, bleeding figure was worthy of their allegiance. He was on His way to die, and they were on their way to kill Him. It wasn’t personal, just business. They yanked Him to His feet, tore the robe from His bleeding back, and laid the rough crossbeam of the cross across His shoulders, tying His wrists to either end. In His weakened state, the massive extra seventy or eighty pounds of weight buckled Jesus knees under Him. But the soldiers pulled Him back up, and shoved Him forward. The curtain was rising on the final scene of torment.

Father, sometimes, especially during the Easter season, we contemplate the horrors and anguish that Jesus went through. But it is difficult for us to imagine anyone willingly going through this much torment. Especially someone like Jesus, supremely innocent, and able to call thousands of angels to His rescue at any given moment. But He simply put down His head and went through all of this, knowing that it was the only way to accomplish the salvation that He had come to make real. However, He also knew that on the other side of all of this nastiness was a glorious resurrection into a form that could never be hurt again, and a return to eternal oneness with You. “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2 NIV) Thank You that we have an equal hope, no matter what we might face in this life. Amen.

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