“Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. And the soldiers wove a crown of thorns and put it on his head, and they dressed him in a purple robe. They kept coming up to him, saying, ‘Hail, King of the Jews!’ and striking him on the face. Pilate went out again and said to them, ‘Look, I am brining him out to you to let you know that I find no case against him.’ So Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, ‘Here is the man!’ When the chief priests and the police saw him, they shouted, ‘Crucify him! Crucify him!” Pilate said to them, ‘Take him yourselves and crucify him; I find no case against him.’ The Jews answered him, ‘We have a law, and according to that law he ought to die because he has claimed to be the Son of God.’” John19:1-7
As I read this morning this phrase, “They kept coming up to him, saying, ‘Hail, King of the Jews!’ and striking him on the face.” leapt up off the page at me. My first thought was, yes, each of us who sin do the same thing and I believe that is true. But these were the guards, Roman soldiers, probably not believers – not yet, anyway, and they were under orders. They took advantage of an opportunity to bully and make fun of a high-profile prisoner. I’m not letting them off the hook, they are mocking the Savior, theirs, ours, mine and yours. Pilate can’t find a case against him, in other words he declares Jesus, Not Guilty! The Jews, the mob, the crowd, yells out, “Crucify Him! Crucify Him! – what a slap in the face! Pilate doesn’t back down, “Take him yourselves and crucify him; I find no case against him.” The Jews respond, “We have a law, and according to that law he ought to die.” Another slap in face! Then my mind raced back to yesterday’s reading when the Jews said, “We are not permitted to put anyone to death.” Which is it? The answer lies in the fact that the Son of God stands before them, all of them – sinners in need of a Savior. The Jews, the chosen, the ones who are on the lookout for Messiah to introduce others are blinded; the Romans, enemies of the Kingdom of God, dress Jesus properly present him as royalty. Both, slap him in the face, one group physically, the other figuratively/relationally/spiritually! Stop and assess which group you are in, how and when you slap the Savior in the face, thenfall on your knees and ask forgiveness.