Summary: What Christ endured at the hands of the soldiers for us.
The Crown and the King
This morning I would like to take you on a journey to a place long ago and far away. A place where events happened that affect us today. I would like to take you to the dusty streets of a town where events unfolded both terrible and exciting. An event seemingly inconsequential at the time but, with the passing of time recognized as far-reaching.
You stand by a cobblestoned road amidst a crowd buzzing with excitement. On your left and right stand parents with children in tow. Here and there a father has placed a young son on his shoulders so that he may see what transpires on the road. Over there is a mother with a young infant cradled in her arms. Across the road from you is another young mother with a toddler standing next to her clutching desperately at her skirts.
To your right the road gradually curves away from you affording a vista of a few hundred feet. Above, you see a sky slowly turning grey and on the horizon clouds heavy with rain and ominously dark. To your left is the entrance to the governors quarters and the troops guardhouse. Alongside the entrance is a dozen guards standing nervously with their weapons at the ready.
All around, you see the panoply of humanity,
old and young,
rich and poor,
City dwellers and country farmers.
On their faces you see a wide range of emotions,
You wonder to yourself, what brought them here? Are they here for the same reason as me? Or, are they here for revenge? Did they just happen to be walking by and saw the crowd and therefore, stopped to see what the excitement is all about?
You watch the crowd closely and notice the eyes shifting occasionally to look down the road. You see the lips move and wonder what is being said. Some people are laughing. Others are silent. The children’s eyes are big with curiosity wondering what the adults are talking about. Here and there you see the older kids climbing trees or roof tops to get a better look at what is transpiring.
Suddenly, you notice a shift in the volume of noise. You look and see the crowd has now focused their attention down the road. As you turn to look you notice just coming around the bend of the road many soldiers marching on either side of the road. In between them is a solitary individual. As the group comes closer you start to get a very good look at the man who seems to be the center of all the attention. Some things stand out:
He is walking with his head held high; yet he seems weighed down as with a heavy burden,
His eyes look weary; yet he seems to be focused on the destination
His hands are tied tightly in front of him, so tightly that his hands are turning purple.
His clothes are shredded and blood-soaked, but he wears them with dignity.
As the group gets closer the crowd becomes more animated and vocal. Some in the crowd are yelling encouragement. Others are shouting epithets. Some are begging for mercy, while others are exclaiming crucify him.
The crowd is becoming more and more restless. There are people pushing forward trying to reach the solitary prisoner for reasons unknown. The guards are having to shove people back into the crowd. There are some individuals throwing objects at the prisoner such as rocks, dung, and food.
All around you people are becoming louder. You look at the faces and notice how emotionally charged the crowd is. You think to yourself “no wonder the guards at the gate looked so nervous!”
Soon, with some difficulty, the group of soldiers are able to get their prisoner within the safe confines of the guardhouse which is where we will now shift our focus.
We stand in the guardhouse. The noise of the crowd outside is now muted enabling us to look closely at the prisoner and hear more clearly what is being said.
We know of course who the prisoner is. We know of the small group of men that accompanied Him for the last several years. We wonder where they are now. How come they were not with Him? Were they amongst the crowd outside?
As we look closely at Christ we see how noble he is. The firmness of His chin, the calmness in His eyes. Though scourged and beaten, though His skin has been torn from His back, not a whimper does He make.
You wonder, too at the actions of this governor and his soldiers. Why are they breaking the law that they so assiduously uphold? Isn’t the condemned man allowed time to reflect and have a last meal? Isn’t the Law of Tiberius to be obeyed? A man condemned to crucifixion is suppose to have ten days between sentencing and the act being carried out. And why is it necessary for the whole Roman regiment to be a witness and participant to this mockery?