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.
“I offered my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who pulled out my beard; I did not hide my face from mocking and spitting.” (Isaiah 50:6)
The third of the Servant Songs in Isaiah (each being a prophecy of Messiah) foretells the mocking cruelty of the Roman soldiers. Like Pilate, they accurately name Jesus “King of the Jews,” but do so in scornful derision. Flaunting their power over Jesus’ perceived powerlessness – like so many bullies and oppressors before and since – they sought to humiliate him in every way possible. They stripped him, setting his clothes aside, then re-clothing him in a discarded military robe. Its purple colouring suggested royalty, prompting gales of callous laughter. Cruelly, they twisted together thorny branches into a makeshift crown, roughly pressing it on his bowed head, piercing his flesh, spilling his blood. With overlapping voices, they derisively called out their hollow praise – “Hail!” Wave upon wave of scorn broke over him. They struck him on the head with a staff, spitting on him, showing contempt – their saliva mingling with his blood, running down face and neck. They fell to their knees, paying mock homage with raucous voices, the cacophony of scorn and mockery and contempt filling the air.
All of this was prophesied long years in advance by Isaiah, under the inspiration of God’s Spirit. If all Scripture is God-breathed (and it is) then the Son of God himself had breathed out these insights long before they ever took place. He knew exactly what was coming, yet he pressed on.
Indeed the Son of God inspired the riveting words of the next verse, also: “Therefore have I set my face like flint” (Isaiah 50:7).
He had determined, long in advance, that he would not turn back, that he would set his gaze on the cross and, with rock-like resolve, press forward.
So, when “they led him out to crucify him,” his determination carried him. He did not turn back. This was why he’d come.
Thank you, my Saviour.
I praise you, Lord, for the determination that took you steadfastly to the cross. You endured the scorn and derision, the suffering and pain. I stand amazed. Thank you.
Reflect: “Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart” (Hebrews 12:3). In what situations can Jesus’ example strengthen you today?
Photo by Ismael Paramo on Unsplash