Soldiers Make Fun of Jesus
(Mark 15.16-21; John 19.2,3)
27The governor's soldiers led Jesus into the fortress and brought together the rest of the troops. 28They stripped off Jesus' clothes and put a scarlet robe on him. 29They made a crown out of thorn branches and placed it on his head, and they put a stick in his right hand. The soldiers knelt down and pretended to worship him. They made fun of him and shouted, “Hey, you king of the Jews!” 30Then they spit on him. They took the stick from him and beat him on the head with it.
Jesus Is Nailed to a Cross
(Mark 15.22-32; Luke 23.27-43; John 19.17-27)
31When the soldiers had finished making fun of Jesus, they took off the robe. They put his own clothes back on him and led him off to be nailed to a cross. 32On the way they met a man named Simon who was from Cyrene, and they forced him to carry Jesus' cross.
33They came to a place named Golgotha, which means “Place of a Skull.” 34 There they gave Jesus some wine mixed with a drug to ease the pain. But when Jesus tasted what it was, he refused to drink it.
35 The soldiers nailed Jesus to a cross and gambled to see who would get his clothes. 36Then they sat down to guard him. 37Above his head they put a sign that told why he was nailed there. It read, “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.” 38The soldiers also nailed two criminals on crosses, one to the right of Jesus and the other to his left.
39 People who passed by said terrible things about Jesus. They shook their heads and 40 shouted, “So you're the one who claimed you could tear down the temple and build it again in three days! If you are God's Son, save yourself and come down from the cross!”
41The chief priests, the leaders, and the teachers of the Law of Moses also made fun of Jesus. They said, 42“He saved others, but he can't save himself. If he is the king of Israel, he should come down from the cross! Then we will believe him. 43 He trusted God, so let God save him, if he wants to. He even said he was God's Son.” 44The two criminals also said cruel things to Jesus.
When I see someone wearing a cross, I occasionally ask them what it means. Some respond that it is a nice piece of jewellery while for others it is a good luck charm that will protect them from harm and danger. Others are closer to the truth when they explain that it means Christ died for their sins. In this passage Jesus is nailed to the cross and subjected to humiliation and ridicule. The people around the cross mock his claims to be king (29,37,42) and to be the Son of God(40,43).
In this scene both of these titles are redefined. Being a king in the ancient world meant getting your own way and using force to foster your agenda. You might think that to be the Son of God meant escaping suffering and humiliation. But for Jesus the cross meant not ruling in power but hanging in weakness. It shows the Son of God being willing to suffer rather than finding ways to avoid it.
We are not kings but we are subjects of the King. We are not the Son of God but we are sons and daughters of God. The journey that Jesus took to the cross is the journey we must be willing to take. This means being open to ministering in weakness rather than strength. Paul discovered this when he prayed that his thorn would be removed but God said that his power could be perfected better in Paul’s weakness (2 Cor 12:7-9). As sons and daughters of God we must be open to suffering, humiliation and rejection rather than seeking comfort, ease and respect. We are weak in many ways but God can work powerfully through weak people to accomplish his purposes and bring glory to his name.
Heavenly Father, give me the courage today to embrace the way of the cross. Minister through me, though I am weak, because then God’s power will be more fully demonstrated in me. God forbid that I should glory save in the cross of Christ.
Roy Matheson holds the Th.M. and Th.D. degrees from Dallas Theological Seminary, and completed post doctoral studies at Wycliffe College and St Michael’s College, University of Toronto. Since 1970, he has taught at Tyndale University and Seminary, and presently is Professor Emeritus of New Testament. Since 1979, he has been Teaching Pastor at Chartwell Baptist Church in Oakville Ontario, and is presently Pastor Emeritus. Roy has taught in numerous settings within Canada as well as other countries: Colombia, Kenya, Malawi, France, Kazakhstan, India, China, Indonesia, Philippines, Malaysia and Mongolia. He is married to Joy and they have three married children and seven grandchildren. Publications: Loving God’s Family: A Commentary on First John (Victor Books) along with a number of articles in Moody Monthly, Faith Today etc. Recently, Songs of the Servant: A Lenten Devotional on the Servant Songs of Isaiah (self published).