Summary: A sermon about how Jesus stands with those who feel small.
“24 Hours that Changed the World: The Torture and Humiliation of the King”
I remember it well.
It was the first day of high school; I was a skinny and frightened 9th grader.
After the first ring of the bell, students poured out into the hallway as kids moved quickly in opposite directions—heading for their next class.
The first day of high school is intimidating, to say the least.
In our particular school district, two middle schools from two separate towns come together into one high school.
So, you only know half the kids in your one class.
And, as a freshman, by the time you get to the Seniors, you really don’t know any of them.
So, I’m walking down this strange, new crowded hallway.
I’m not sure where I am going, and I am trying hard to hang onto and balance the huge stack of books and papers under my arm.
I’m also in a hurry, because the high school is big, and you only have 5 minutes to get from one end to the other.
And then I see him, he is tall, staring right at me with a smirk on his face and he’s walking toward me—fast.
And before I know it, he has swiped one of his big hands across my books, and papers and they all drop to the floor—flying every which way.
As I bend over to begin trying to pick them up, other kids are rushing by me, stepping on papers, notebooks, and knocking textbooks further down the hall as they pass.
There are many dimensions to the suffering and death of Jesus Christ.
Among them is the fact that in Jesus’ suffering and death, God was fully identifying with us and was experiencing what we go through as human beings.
God knows what it means to feel small, to be attacked mentally and emotionally, and to be physically abused.
Matthew, Mark, and John tell us about the humiliation Jesus experienced at the hands of the Roman soldiers.
“The soldiers led Jesus away into the courtyard of the palace known as the governor’s headquarters, and they called together the whole company of soldiers.”
This was the entire cohort—some three hundred to six hundred soldiers.
They stripped Him naked, mocked Him, crowned Him with thorns, struck Him, and spat on Him.
Jesus stood there naked, accepting the meanness, the hate, the cruelty.
Can we envision the strength of Jesus, staring at His tormentors with determination and pity—even love?
The accounts of Jesus’ torture and humiliation follow closely the prophetic Words of Isaiah 50:6: “I gave my back to those who struck me, and my cheeks to those who pulled out the beard; I did not hide my face from insult and spitting.”
The Gospels tell us little about the form of Jesus’ flogging.
We do know, from reading other sources, however that oftentimes people died in the midst of being beaten by the Roman bodyguards with their whips and rods.
These sources also tell us that the flesh was torn from the bones when the guards used whips with leather that was embedded with sharp objects.
It’s likely that Jesus was stripped and forced to bend over a post to which He was strapped, with His hands tied down.
If you have seen The Passion of the Christ you will remember much blood and gore.
A number of scholars say that even though that movie was gross and intense—it didn’t even come close to the reality of how brutal and disgusting Jesus’ humiliation, flogging and crucifixion really were.
Two or more men would have taken turns striking Jesus with these horrible whips.
One historian from the 3rd Century said that in Roman flogging, often, “the sufferer’s veins were laid bare and the very muscles and tendons and bowels of the victim were open to exposure.”
This was a serious punishment for wrongdoing—to say the least!!!
But for whose wrongdoing was Jesus being punished?
From the Proclamation that David read at the beginning of the Worship service from Isaiah 53 we get a prophetic picture of what happened to Jesus:
“He was wounded for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the punishment that made us whole, and by his bruises we are healed.”
In Jesus, the God of Love volunteered to take upon Himself the punishment that rightly belongs to us.
Jesus could have destroyed them all with a word.
Instead, He bore the shame and the humiliation, so that we may be saved by the costliness of God’s grace!!!
There can be no doubt that the events surrounding the last 24 hours of Jesus’ life on earth speak of the brokenness of humanity.
The disciples fell asleep, then fled in fear as Jesus was arrested.
Judas betrayed Jesus.