Summary: Following Pilates sentencing Jesus to a horrible death by crucifixion the soldiers could do anything they wanted to do to our Lord; they mocked Him and beat Him mercilessly. Remember, before this He was scourged (whipped).


(34) Mockery of Roman Soldiers

Scripture: Matthew 27:27-30 (focal passage); Mark 15:16-19

Tom Lowe


Following Pilates sentencing Jesus to a horrible death by crucifixion the soldiers could do anything they wanted to do to our Lord; they mocked Him and beat Him mercilessly. Remember, before this He was scourged (whipped).

Time: Friday of Jesus Final Week

Place: Jerusalem

(Matthew 27:27) Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the [1]common hall and gathered unto him the whole [2]band of soldiers.

(Mark 15:16) And the soldiers led him away into the hall, called 1[1]Praetorium; and they call together the whole 2[2]band.

Pilate officially turned Jesus over to his soldiers for execution. They took Him into the common hall or governor’s quarters, probably in the castle of Antonia. Once there, they gathered the whole band, sometimes called a “cohort,” which included six hundred men, although on occasion the number was much less.

(Matthew 27:28) And they stripped him and put on him a [3]scarlet robe.

(Mark 15:17a) And they clothed him with 3[3]purple,

After assembling the whole garrison, they staged a mock coronation for the King of the Jews. What followed is hard to imagine! The Creator and Sustainer of the universe suffered unspeakable indignities from cruel, vulgar soldiers—His unworthy, sinful creatures. They stripped Him and put a scarlet robe on Him, in imitation of a king’s or emperor’s robe. It was a military robe, usually fastened at the shoulder, such as the Roman soldiers wore. This sham of kingly majesty was nothing but meanness and was intended to expose the Lord to the spectators, as a ridiculous fraud.

They stripped him; the shame of nakedness came in with sin ([4]Genesis 3:7); and therefore Christ, when he came to satisfy for sin, and take it away, was made naked, and He submitted to that shame so that he might prepare for us white raiment, to cover us ([5]Revelations 3:18). The pictures you see of Christ on the Cross are an artist’s attempt to prevent offending our delicate sense of decency by removing the shame of nakedness; He was naked except for the purple robe, but when He was on the Cross He was totally naked.

That robe has a message for us. Since scarlet is associated with sin ([6]Isaiah 1:18), I like to think that the robe pictures my sins being placed on Jesus so that God’s robe of righteousness might be placed on me ([7]2 Corinthians 5:21). If they had only known! It was God the Son they clothed with purple. It was their own Creator they crowned with thorns. It was the Sustainer of the universe they mocked as King of the Jews. It was the Lord of life and glory they struck on the head. They spat on the Prince of peace. They mockingly bowed their knees to the King of kings and Lord of lords. If Christ was treated like this by the soldiers, none of his followers should think it is strange to be used in the same way ([8]1 Corinthians 4:9; [9]Hebrews 10:33).

(Matthew 27:29) And when they had [10]platted a crown of thorns, they put it upon his head, and a reed in his right hand: and they [11]bowed the knee before him, and mocked him, saying, [12]Hail, King of the Jews!

(Mark 15:17b) and [10]platted a crown of thorns, and put it about his head,

(Mark 15:18) And began to salute him, [6]Hail, King of the Jews!

They twisted a crown of thorns and pressed it down on His head. But beyond their crude joke, we understand that He wore a crown of thorns so that we might wear a crown of glory. They mocked Him as the King of Sin; we worship Him as the Savior of sinners. Thorns came in with sin and were part of the curse that was the product of sin ([13]Genesis 3:18). Therefore Christ, being made a curse for us, and dying to remove the curse from us, felt the pain of those thorns. Christ was crowned with thorns, to show that his kingdom was not of this world. It was the custom of some heathen nations, to bring their sacrifices to the altars, crowned with a wreath of flowers; this crown of thorns was the garlands with which this great Sacrifice was crowned. The thorns were pressed into His scalp causing blood to trickle down His face and onto His beard, and on to the ground.

They also gave Him a reed—a mock scepter. They put the reed in His right hand; this was good enough for such a King. They didn’t know that the hand that held that reed is the hand that rules the world. That nail-scarred hand of Jesus now holds the scepter of universal dominion.

They knelt before Him and addressed Him as King of the Jews. Not content with that, they spat on the face of the only perfect Man who ever lived, and then they took the reed and struck Him on the head with it. They pretended to pay homage to Him in order to ridicule Jesus’ make-believe act and claim to be the Son of God. Here they bowed the knee, in disrespect to Him who was, soon after this, exalted to the right hand of God.

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