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. Then they 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.
As Jesus is handed over to the soldiers, they treat him cruelly and degradingly. They dress him in a scarlet robe, place a crown of thorns on his head, and mockingly hail him as the "King of the Jews." They spit on him, strike him, and ridicule him. One shudders to think of the physical and emotional torment Jesus had to endure on his journey to the cross.
At first glance, we may see this scene as an illustration of Jesus' humiliation and defeat. However, there is a deeper truth at play. Jesus willingly endured this suffering and humiliation as part of his redemptive mission. His willingness to undergo such degradation is a testament to his love for humanity and his commitment to fulfilling God's plan of salvation.
This passage also reveals a paradoxical understanding of kingship. While the soldiers mock Jesus as the King of the Jews, they fail to grasp the true nature of his kingship. Jesus' kingship is not one of earthly power and dominance but of sacrificial love and servanthood. He is a king who willingly takes upon himself the sins and sufferings of humanity, offering himself as a perfect sacrifice for the forgiveness of sins. As he once said, "The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many" (Mark 10:45).
In Philippians 2:6-8, the apostle Paul describes the humility of Jesus, saying that although he existed in the form of God, he did not cling to his divine privileges. Instead, he emptied himself, taking on the form of a servant and being born in human likeness. Jesus willingly humbled himself, becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
If we want to live in imitation of Christ, we need to cultivate humility in our lives instead of being proud and arrogant. We need to be self-sacrificial rather than self-serving. We must put our love into action through acts of kindness, forgiveness, empathy, and service. We must obey God's will, even in the face of great suffering. And we need to persevere in adversity.
None of these are easy asks, but we have the Spirit of Jesus in us, so they are all very much possible.
May the Spirit be with you.