The spectacle was startling. A battered man, unrecognizable, staggered out of the house of abuse. Pilate’s thugs had done their work. With flesh-tearing, bone-scraping, muscle-destroying blows they had used their infamous torture implement. Their indifferent imprecision left wounds that could never be repaired. If He were to survive this beating, it wouldn’t be for long. As He shuffled out, every barefoot step left a shadow of smeared blood. Draped over His battered shoulders and flayed back was a blood soaked purple robe.
“King of the Jews” was the sneer of the day. The Romans never knew that He had never claimed this title for Himself, and their abuse showed that they believed the very opposite. This day would carry with it far more than physical abuse. The physical abuse would be more horrifying than the darkest thing that any special effects studio could create. But literally adding insult to injury, the Praetorian guards attached vitriolic mockery to each blow. Skin-piercing thorns were fashioned into a royal laurel, and beaten into His scalp with a rod. Laughing with mockery, these brutish execution machines of Caesar bowed a knee and breathed a derisive “Hail, King of the Jews!”
Stripping Him of the blood stained robe, they put His clothes back on Him. They were done with the beating and the mocking for now. It was time for Him to bleed His way to where He would die. The angry mob cursed and spat on Him, and Jesus slowly staggered down the narrow streets to Golgotha. Along the way, the dust that stirred from the crowd mingled with the blood from His head, His face, and His back. A muddy, blood covered Jesus travelled the city streets one last time. Because He was too weak to carry His own execution implement, the Romans grabbed a Cyrenian (present day Africa) and made Him carry the blood-moistened beam.
This Friday morning was gruesome, and not just because of what was happening to Jesus. It was Passover. The brutal slaughter of nearly a quarter million lambs would take place on this day in the temple. The sacrifice of lambs had been commanded by God to remind the Jews of their sinfulness, and their need of a sacrifice to atone for that sin. The special day known as Passover was supposed to serve as a reminder of when God delivered His people from their bondage in Egypt. On this Providential slaughter-filled Passover day, the “Lamb of God” (John 1:29, Rev. 13:8) was taken to the top of a hill to be slain for the sins of the whole world, and to set them free from their eternal bondage.
The brutality of the beating and the mockery were just a glimpse of the agony He was about to endure. No whip or shame-filled word could compare to the spiritual reality that was coming. Jesus was about to die as a sacrifice for the sins of all those who would trust in Him, and in that death, the very wrath of God would be poured out on Him.
Food For Thought: What was the significance of Jesus being crucified on the same day as the Passover?