Summary: And so it gets nasty . . . Jesus, humble servant enroute to the Cross, suffering the agony of mockery and misery, impacts the life of a young man whose memory of that life-changing encounter would live on.
MARK SERMON XII – TRAVESTY TO MAJESTY – MARK 14:53---16:8
Series Within A Series
PART FOUR: EARLY MORNING: Mockery-Misery-Memory
MARK 15:16-21 . . .
One of the most disingenuous acts of humanity is to make light of a serious situation – whether one’s own or that of another. Oftentimes a person will seek to relieve a stressful medical situation with nervous laughter as a way of dealing with anxiety - understandable; however, to resort to mockery of a victim of misfortune is incomprehensible!
Pontius Pilate’s evil deed, of condemning an innocent man to death, quickly turned into an ugly scene of mockery --- Mark 15:16-20 . . .
As soon as Jesus had been condemned to die on a cross, he instantly became the object of ridicule, laughter and abusive behavior which occurred while the Roman soldiers were waiting for the cross to be prepared.
The usual procedure for crucifixion was that, as soon as the ruling authority made a decision to pronounce the death penalty, he would nod to a judge standing nearby, and the judge would declare, “The sentence is that this man should be taken to a cross”. Then the judge would turn to one of the palace guards and say; “Go, soldier, and prepare the cross.”
Standing there in the presence of the entire company of soldiers - bleeding from the wounds he had suffered as a result of scourging – Jesus was slapped around and shoved from one soldier to the next as if he were an inanimate object, like a punching bag or a hockey puck.
But, as bad as this incident was, it might have been the least of the hurts that our Lord endured – at least up to that particular point of His journey to the Cross. I can imagine that the venomous hatred manifested toward Him by his own people hurt worse; also, Pilate’s cowardice of giving in to the demands of a mob must have hurt deeply.
Folks: If any of us is ever subjected to ridicule because of our Christian faith, or misunderstood when we voice our Christian convictions, or misquoted by those who despise a stand we have taken, let us never forget that Jesus our Lord has gone through far worse; therefore, He understands.
Because He understands, He will have compassion and be with us when we go through the valleys – even the valley of the shadow of death!
To the soldiers, Jesus was just another pawn in their game of “Make Fun Of”! Have you ever been made fun of? If so, you know the feeling! One of the tragedies of our day is that, as far as some folks are concerned, how other folks feel doesn’t matter. Would you agree that every one of us needs to be more sensitive to the feelings of others?
Insensitivity toward humanity was a “trademark” of ancient Rome. The Roman Coliseum stands in ruins today as a gruesome reminder of the place where criminals were forced onto the arena floor (from which there was no escape) while vociferous lions were let loose to chase them and tear them apart - to the cheers of thousands of spectators.
Many Christians suffered the same fate as common criminals - the difference being that, in order to escape, all a Christian had to do was to publicly renounce his allegiance to Jesus Christ. Some did; but the vast majority chose to die rather than deny their Lord. I’ve thought about this quite a few times: What choice would I make under similar circumstances?
Dietrich Bonhoffer, a German minister who publicly denounced Hitler’s “kill the Jews” policy during WWII, chose to die rather than deny, saying, in effect, “I regret that I have only one life to give for my Lord!”
Other stalwart Christians, like this Lutheran minister, and like those who were fed to the lions, had been preceded in their torture by the One for whom they laid down their lives. Rather than being fed to a lion, Jesus was led to a Cross via the abusive behavior of Roman guards, who were joined in their cruel acts by passersby - except for one --- Mark 15:21 . . .
We cannot imagine how this man Simon of Cyrene must have felt when he was forced to carry the cross on which the Son of God would be crucified. He was from North Africa; so, why had he come to Jerusalem?
Most likely he had made that long journey to fulfill a life-long dream of going to the Holy City for Passover. Every Jew - and descendants of Jews who had been scattered all over the then known world - longed for, and saved money to make that trip of a lifetime – to go to the homeland for the observance of Passover. Simon was no doubt a Passover “pilgrim.”