In the Praetorium
Wednesday, April 1, 2015
Matthew 27:27-31 Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the governor’s headquarters, and they gathered the whole battalion before him. And they stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on his head and put a reed in his right hand. And kneeling before him, they mocked him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” And they spit on him and took the reed and struck him on the head. And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the robe and put his own clothes on him and led him away to crucify him.
Already this week we have seen that Jesus shed His blood to cover the agony of sin’s temptations when He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, and to cover the punishment for sin when He was flogged by the Roman soldiers at Gabbatha.
It is appropriate that on this day, April 1st, commonly known as April Fool’s Day, that we investigate the third instance of Jesus shedding blood. It occurs when the same soldiers who had just scourged Him decided to extend the suffering and humiliation beyond what was authorized. It is their attempt at an April Fool’s joke well before it would ever be known by that name.
After the public whipping that left Jesus brutally beaten and bloodied, the Roman soldiers went back into Pilate’s headquarters to add insult to injury. They called together the whole battalion of soldiers to witness the crowning of a king. They stripped Jesus of His robe, and placed on Him a regal robe of scarlet.
They placed a reed in His hand to represent a royal staff. Not a limp reed, like we think of that grows in the lakes around here, but the shaft of the flowering reed that grew in that region, which resembled bamboo.
Then they twisted together a bunch of thorns from bushes which grow plentifully all over the region, and made a cruel crown to place upon His head.
As a part of the “coronation” ceremony, they all fell to their knees and mocked Jesus, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!”
Then, to humiliate and harm our Lord even more they rose to their feet, spit on Him, and took the hard, bamboo-like reed with the bulbous bud of a flower on the end, and struck Jesus on the head, driving the thorns into the shallow flesh until they struck His skull. After mocking Him more, they removed the robe, but not the thorns, clothed Him in His own robe, and led Him away to be tortured and killed by crucifixion.
My friends, do you see the lengths to which sin will go? Do you see the cruelty of sin when left unabated? The cruelty of sin will take people…and us…to extremes we never thought possible.
Have you felt the sting of words that degrade and demoralize you? Have you endured the false accusations of others? Have you seen or experienced the pain of someone’s brutality as they use you as a symbolic punching bag in an attempt to validate their own authority? The blood of Jesus was shed for all of that, and more.
Or maybe…just maybe…you have been the mocker, the spitter, or the striker. Be aware that this is no joke. The only April Fools here were the fools rejecting their Savior…and fools still mock other people in the same way. We mock Christ himself by mocking Christ’s people. We make fun of them, criticize them, spit on them, and intentionally hurt them to validate our own positions. The blood of Jesus was shed for that, so that we might be free from the need to respond to sin with even greater sin.
Here’s the hope we all have – Jesus shed His blood to cover all of the mockery, the spitting, and the abuse. He modeled for us how to respond to it – with silence motivated by complete trust in the righteousness of God. And the blood He shed from his brow completely covers any thorns in our flesh so that we may constantly reflect His glory.
No matter how extreme the expression of sin directed at us, we stand covered by the blood of Jesus that was shed to protect us and forgive even those who abuse us.
Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name. (1 Peter 4:16)