Reading for Good Friday
Peace be with you!
After Pilate sentences Jesus to be crucified, the soldiers take him into the courtyard of the palace, which was the governor’s headquarters, and dress him a purple (the color of royalty) cloak and a crown of thorns. Then the soldiers mock him by yelling, “Hail, King of the Jews” (Mark 15:18 NRSV). The soldiers mock Jesus regarding his claim to be the king of the Jews. The word “hail” comes from the phrase “Hail, Caesar!” and mockingly equates Jesus to Caesar. The soldiers kneel down and pay homage to Jesus as a “fake” king. Their mockery is a result of their lack of belief and understanding. The mockery is the soldiers’ attempt to humiliate Jesus and show him who is in charge. No one but Caesar can just claim to be a king.
As they continue to mock Jesus, the soldiers strike his head with a reed. Imagine the pain of being struck on the head with a crown of thorns on. I can only imagine it was far worse than my worst three-day headache.
After mocking Jesus, the soldiers strip Jesus of the purple cloak and dress him in his ordinary clothes. The word strip indicates that the soldiers wanted to strip Jesus of any sense of royalty—except the crown of thorn that continued to cause him pain—and any respect he has. Yet unknowingly the soldiers are fulfilling the scriptures and God’s plan. Isaiah 50:6-7 states:
I offered my back to those who attacked,
my jaws to those who tore out my beard;
I did not hide my face
from insults and spitting.
But the sovereign LORD helps me,
so I am not humiliated.
For that reason I am steadfastly resolved;
I know I will not be put to shame (NET Bible).
Jesus understands he has to suffer according to God’s plan. Through their mockery, the soldiers unknowingly proclaim Jesus’s kingship.
Then the soldiers get Simon of Cyrene to carry Jesus’s cross as they lead him to Golgotha, “the place of the skull,” where they crucify Jesus on the cross with an inscription above his head: “The King of the Jews” (Mark 15:21-22, 24a, 26). The soldiers cast lots for Jesus’ clothes (Mark 15:24), which fulfills Psalm 22:18: “They are dividing up my clothes among themselves; they are rolling dice for my garments” (NET Bible).
A passerby mocks Jesus by saying, “Aha! You who would destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself, and come down from the cross” (Mark 15:29-30 NRSV). And the chief priests mock him, “He saved others; he cannot save himself. Let the Messiah, the King of Israel, come down from the cross now, so that we may see and believe.” (Mark 15:31-32).
Yet all of the mocking of the soldiers, the chief priests, and the passersby merely lets the truth be known, even through their disbelief. Jesus is the King of the Jews/Israel. Jesus does destroy the temple by being crucified. Jesus will rebuild the temple in three days through his resurrection, which overcomes death. Jesus is the temple that he was talking about, but the unbelievers misunderstood. The world is told the truth through the mocking of the soldiers, the chief priests, and the passersby. People just have to believe.
Jesus calls out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” and he takes his last breath (Mark 15:34, 37). The curtain of the temple is torn in two (Mark 15:38), and it is finished. Jesus is ready dead. It is a frightening fact as we realize the light in no longer in the world, the shepherd is gone, and hope of the Messiah has gone away. Even as we hate this part of the story, it has to take place to carry out God’s plan to save us from the darkness. Yet, even in the darkest hour we can see glimmers of light on the horizon.
Continue to follow the light. The story is still unfolding. Thanks be to God!
Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for continuing to show us your love—on the cross, with arms spread out. Help us to understand why Jesus had to die on the cross. Remind us of your love and forgiveness as we weep at the cross. Thank you for showing us the cross. Amen.
Please answer the following reflective questions in the comments below. Please agree to disagree and be respectful to each other. (If you have not already done so, please also take a moment, to sign the behavior covenant by commenting on it.) You can answer as many questions as you would like.
- How does Jesus’s suffering affect you?
- How do nonbelievers continue to mock Jesus?
- How do believers reject who Jesus really is?
Photo Credit: Amber Sue Photography