Mark 15:16 Then the soldiers led him into the courtyard of the palace (that is, the governor’s headquarters); and they called together the whole cohort. 17 And they clothed him in a purple cloak; and after twisting some thorns into a crown, they put it on him. 18 And they began saluting him, “Hail, King of the Jews!” 19 They struck his head with a reed, spat upon him, and knelt down in homage to him. 20 After mocking him, they stripped him of the purple cloak and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him out to crucify him.
This small section of scripture abounds with irony. While the soldiers thought they were mocking him by giving him the purple cloak and the crown of thorns, they did not realize that soon the crowning moment of Christ’s life would become a reality. They did not recognize that he was the true King and that his life and death were ushering in a new kingdom about which they knew and understood nothing.
The irony continued as they spat upon him. Their spit, which they saw as an insult was actually an instrument of healing when placed into Christ’s hands. He had spit into the dirt and healed the blind man. The irony of the moment continues as the soldiers strip Jesus of his clothing. What they failed to see what that through his death he would place upon us the “cloak of righteousness that hides our sin.” (Cyprian) While they continue to mock him, he remains silent and ultimately those who judge Jesus are judged and he, the Word, remains silent.
Everything that the soldiers might do in mockery, God was able to transform and redeem for their very salvation.
The soldiers mocked Jesus through their words and actions and thought that they were bringing him down, ostensibly, to their level. They had no comprehension of who he was or what he would accomplish. Sadly, we also may not recognize what he wants to do in and through us. We may become reactionary or combative when we join in with the crowd, failing to see what God is really doing.
I’m afraid that mocking Jesus has become rather fashionable. The soldiers of Jesus’ day were probably having a good time, laughing and poking fun at this religious man. The world is poking and making fun of Christianity these days, which in reality is mocking Jesus. There are, however, a couple of questions we must ask ourselves; (1) are we contributing to the mocking, or (2) are we ministering to the mockers?
Contributing to the mocking If we don’t take following Jesus seriously we are actually contributing to the mocking attitude toward Christ and Christianity. When we fail to live our Christian lives as a reflection of Christ, then we too are mocking Jesus. We are setting ourselves up for others to mock Jesus because there is no consistency in what is seen. The world will view Jesus through us and the way in which we live. If we are not following Christ day in and day out, then we are mocking him.
Ministering to the mockers In the early period of Christianity a spirit of revival broke out among the Roman soldiers. This was after the day of Pentecost and as the church began to experience growth throughout the Roman world. Instead of shunning the soldiers, Christians began to minister to them. There were periods of time when the Empire struggled to feed and serve their soldiers. Christians would bring them into their homes and feed them. These early Christians lived out their faith daily in a lifestyle that most would see as stunning. They intentionally mixed with those whom others would have described as their enemies. Instead of distancing themselves from the mockers, they embraced them and the redemptive power of Jesus Christ began his transforming work.
We have an option as to where we find ourselves in the story. Do others use us an excuse to mock Jesus, or to embrace him? It’s a challenging question and a moment in which we may need to examine our position before Christ. If we were in the courtyard with the soldiers today, what would we be doing? Let us pray that we would not be among those mocking Jesus.
Lord, please help me to faithfully reflect you to those around. Amen.
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