“The soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head. They clothed him in a purple robe and went up to him again and again, saying, ‘Hail, king of the Jews!’ And they slapped him in the face.” John 19:2-3 (NIV)
There is an old adage that is still heard occasionally: “They were adding insult to injury”. I don’t know if it came from this passage of Scripture, but it could have. After the Lord was painfully scourged by the Roman lictors (I will spare the reader the gory details), they proceeded to mock and ridicule Jesus. The charge that the Jewish religious leaders had used for his arrest was treason (he claimed to be king of the Jews), so his abusers ‘treated’ him like a king. They fashioned a brier crown and forced it upon his head, wrapped him in a robe with royal color and mockingly spoke words of homage. Instead of kissing his ring, they slapped their hands forcefully across his lips. And throughout, Jesus said nothing and in no way retaliated.
Why would Jesus act this way? Surely it is human to retaliate, to return fire and to exact revenge, isn’t it? We want the guilty to be punished and the innocent to be protected. Jesus was the innocent one, as Pontius Pilate himself stated that he could find no basis for a charge against the Lord (v.4). It was the ones making the accusations against Jesus who were the guilty ones (v. 11). This is not the way life is supposed to work, where one who has done nothing wrong is battered and bruised by those who have done wrong.
So, why did Jesus endure this unwarranted suffering silently? Truthfully, he did it for us.
“God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Corinthians 5:21 (NIV)
God heaped all the sin – and the punishment for all the sin – that we have committed on the one who was without sin, Jesus. The stripe he bore, the bruises he suffered, the mockery he endured and the blood he spilled were the just demands of OUR bad behavior. He took our sin and suffered; we became his righteousness and rejoiced.
There may be some who read these words and quickly dismiss their significance because, after all, Jesus was God and he knew that he would be raised on the third day. Before you do that, however, consider how much you would be willing to endure to alleviate the suffering of someone you love. Would you accept one punch to the face? Five? One Hundred? Would you truly lay down your life for another? Jesus did that and more. His was not a peaceful drifting into the great beyond, but an excruciating 18 hours of agonizing abuse, all for those who call upon him as Lord and Savior.
No wonder they call today Good Friday. Like the hymn writer Craig Weigle said, “No one ever cared for me like Jesus”.