Summary: Since Christ was fully devoted to us, is it too much for Him to expect full devotion from us?
In the distance I see a cross. This is not an unusual sight. Crucifixion is the Roman’s favorite method of execution. I have walked by many crucifixions at this same spot. But a larger than normal crowd has gathered to witness this cross. I wonder why so many people are interested in the victim. As I walk through the crowd, I hear mocking from many and weeping from a few. I see the Roman soldiers gambling for his clothes. I examine the man hanging on the cross. For some reason, He seems different. He is not screaming or squirming. He is not cursing. He is not begging for mercy. Instead, I hear words that I will never forget: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” What kind of person is concerned about his executioners? Who is this man nailed to the cross? And then I read the sign above his head: “This is Jesus of Nazareth, the king of the Jews.”
Some scholars believe the date was April 3, A.D. 33. Pilate, the Roman governor over Judea, was finished questioning Jesus concerning the accusations brought against Him by the chief priests and the elders of the Jews. He could find no reason to put Him to death. Yet he knew that if he didn’t give the people what they wanted, a riot was likely to break out in Jerusalem. Finally, he addressed the impatient mob waiting outside his palace. “What shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?” he asked. “Crucify him!” they shouted.
Because of hatred and jealousy, the leaders of the Jews demanded Jesus’ execution. They saw Him as nothing more than a blasphemer who claimed to be the Son of God. Neither the Romans nor the Jews believed that this crucifixion would be any different from all the rest. They never imagined that this would be the single most important event in the history of the universe.
“He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and familiar with suffering” (Isa. 53:3).
The soldiers led Jesus away to be flogged. He was stripped of His clothes, tied to a post, and beaten by several soldiers with a whip that was usually made of leather strips fitted with pieces of bone or lead. This flogging was so severe that its victims sometimes died. Others were left with their bones and entrails exposed. Josephus reports that a man named Jesus, son of Ananias, was brought before Albinus and “flayed to the bone with scourges.” Eusebius writes that certain martyrs were “lacerated by scourges even to the innermost veins and arteries, so that the hidden inward parts of the body, both their bowels and their members, were exposed to view.”
After the scourging, the soldiers put a robe on Jesus. It was probably an old garment that had been discarded by one of the soldiers. Matthew says the robe was scarlet, but Mark and John call it “purple”—suggesting that is was badly faded. It was probably the nearest thing to the royal color of purple the soldiers could find. Their aim was to make a complete mockery of His claim to be a king.
Of course, every king needs a crown, so the soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on Jesus’ head. These thorns could have been up to several inches long. They would have sunk deep into Jesus’ head, causing blood to gush out and distort His face.
“His appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any man and his form marred beyond human likeness” (Isa. 52:14).
A staff was put in Jesus’ right hand to act a scepter, and then the soldiers fell on their knees and paid mock homage to Him. They said, “Hail, king of the Jews!” in jeering tones. They spit on Him and took the staff and struck Him on the head again and again.
“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” (Isa. 50:6).
In all of this, Jesus remained silent. He was guilty of nothing, yet He never said a word.
“He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth” (Isa. 53:7).
Others had declared His innocence, but Jesus never defended Himself. Judas cried, “I have betrayed innocent blood” (Matt. 27:4). Pilate announced, “I find no fault in him” (John 19:4 KJV). The thief said, “This man has done nothing wrong” (Luke 23:41). The centurion exclaimed, “Surely he was the Son of God!” (Matt. 27:54). Yet Jesus never said a word.