Summary: The scourging Jesus endured would have been unimaginably horrific, but His suffering was from over. Following the merciless beating, Jesus was then subjected to ridicule and mockery. All of this was done for you and me!
The Crown of Suffering
Mark 15: 16-21
Our last study ended with a gripping statement: And so Pilate, willing to content the people, released Barabbas unto them, and delivered Jesus, when he had scourged him, to be crucified. It doesn’t reveal much detail. We are merely told that Jesus was delivered to be crucified after He was scourged. Most of the detail we have regarding such punishment has been handed down through historical writings. This included a severe flogging endured by the scourged, being whipped with a cat of nine tails. We know from prophecy that Jesus was beaten beyond recognition. I am certain we cannot begin to comprehend the severe physical abuse Jesus suffered at the hands of the Roman soldiers as He was scourged just prior to the crucifixion.
He had been beaten mercilessly, and yet the abuse continued. The heartless Romans and accusing Jews were not satisfied with the physical abuse already inflicted. Here we discover their determination to add to Jesus’ suffering. No doubt, barely able to stand from the recent scourging, Jesus then endured a time of emotional abuse at the hands of His accusers.
As we move through these verses, keep in mind, Jesus endured all of this for you and me. He willingly subjected Himself to unimaginable pain and suffering so we might escape the pain and suffering of death and condemnation. I want to consider the humiliating events described in this passage as we think on: The Crown of Suffering.
I. The Exhibition of Jesus (16) – And the soldiers led him away into the hall, called Praetorium; and they call together the whole band. Following the horrific scourging, Jesus was brought again to the hall of Pilate, paraded before His accusers. Consider:
A. The Spectacle (16a) – And the soldiers led him away into the hall, called Praetorium. We find that Jesus was brought into the Praetorium, an area within the compound of Pilate’s residence in Jerusalem. It referred to a courtyard located within the governor’s palace. We can imagine a grand courtyard, arrayed for the governor’s pleasure, and Jesus standing in the midst – bloody, battered, and abused by His tormentors. At this moment, there may have been some who were sympathetic to Jesus among the crowd, but they would have been a small minority. Jesus is there surrounded by those filled with hatred and animosity, demanding His crucifixion. He stood alone before them.
It is interesting to note the place for this spectacle. The Sanhedrin was there, crying out for Jesus’ death on the cross, but they were too self-righteous and hypocritical to enter the palace of Pilate. Such activity would render them ceremonially unclean, but they had no problem demanding the condemnation and death of an innocent Man. They must have demanded these proceedings take place within the courtyard.
B. The Soldiers (16) – And the soldiers led him away into the hall, called Praetorium; and they call together the whole band. This appears to reveal the soldiers who subjected Jesus to the horrors of public scourging had gathered the entire band of soldiers under Pilate’s authority to witness this spectacle. Some argue that since Pilate’s primary residence was in Caesarea, these would have included his elite palace guard that traveled with the governor to ensure his safety. These were hardened men, having little compassion for those who were subject to Roman authority and rule, especially the Jews. A full Roman cohort of soldiers was comprised of 600 men. This would have been a large, intimidating group of soldiers gathered around Jesus.
II. The Humiliation of Jesus (17-19) – There can be no doubt, the physical abuse already inflicted upon Jesus at this point would have been unbearable, but the soldiers seem intent on adding to His suffering. They publicly humiliated Jesus before the multitude. Consider:
A. The Mockery (17-18) – Notice the aspects of this mockery:
The Robe of Scarlet (17a) – And they clothed him with purple. The garment Jesus wore was removed and a purple, scarlet robe was put on Him. Just the act of removing His garment would have been painful after the flesh had been ripped from His back, but the soldiers were determined to ridicule Jesus. The purple robe was put upon Him to add to His shame. Scarlet, or any variation of purple, was considered the color of royalty. The soldiers were displaying a beaten and battered Man to the crowd. In their minds, this man only claimed to be a king. It was as if to say, “Behold your King! Doesn’t he look like royalty?” If you remember, Herod’s soldiers had done the same.
Unknowingly, the soldiers’ treatment of Jesus bore witness to the provision He would soon make for humanity. Isaiah 1:18 – Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.