The Wound of Mockery: Matthew 27:27-31

They thought it was hysterical–this Galilean peasant pretending to be a king.  It made them laugh.  So, they decided to have some fun with His obvious delusion.  The soldiers began by taking away His clothes.  He had to stand there naked as they mocked Him.  Then, they found a beautiful scarlet robe and put that around His shoulders.  “There, now He is beginning to look like a king,” they joked with one another.  “But something is still missing.  I know what it is–we need a crown!”

And so one of them devised a crown, a crown for this commoner to wear, this peasant king fromGalilee.  A crown would teach Him the sobering truth about His delusional daydreams.  Ah, yes, a crown of entangled thorns should do the trick!

Little did the soldiers know how they were confirming the fallen ways of this world.  By making a crown of thorns, they were calling attention to the curse that God first spoke to Adam.  God said, “Cursed is the ground because of you.…  It will [now] produce thorns and thistles” (Genesis 3:17-18).

So, the soldiers began to force and push down the crown onto His head.  The thorns bite hard and the blood begins to trickle and flow.  And, yet, He still stands there.  He doesn’t respond the way they want Him to.  He doesn’t cry out in pain.  He doesn’t beg for them to stop.  He silently endures their taunts, mockery, and jeers.

Someone then comes up with something else a pretend king needs.  A king needs a scepter.  So, they scrounge around and find a reed, and they make His right hand take it.  They step back to admire the finished product of their making.

Blood is running down His face from the thorns piercing His head.  A red, scarlet robe barely covers His naked body.  A flimsy reed flops this way and that in His hand.  They scoff and say, “Behold, the man who would be king!”

Laughing with scorn, they fall on their knees: “Oh, your majesty!  Hail, King of the Jews!”  Yet, He still looks on in silence.  Their mockery becomes sadistic and vicious.   He will not play along in their game, so He will have to pay.

They begin to spit on Him, showing their utter contempt for this deluded upstart.  They take His scepter and whip His head with the reed.  “Some scepter, some rule, and some kingdom; you are nothing.  You are about to die, and it will not be easy for you.  Wait and see, you King of the Jews.”

And as He looks on them, these men miss something of the true character in this king they mock.  They miss the depth of His compassion for them.  Yes, even for these who wound Him with mockery, who try to shame Him, and who are preparing to torture and murder Him, Jesus has deep compassion.

Look into His eyes and you will see it.  You will find a depth of compassion and a fountain of love that will shake you to your core.  Oh, it serves you well to love your friends and to be kind to them.  That’s a trait common to all of fallen humanity.  But to love your enemies, to have nothing but pity and compassion for those who taunt and jeer at you and who are preparing to kill you–that is the mark of the heavenly Friend, of Jesus Christ.

“What language shall I borrow to thank Thee, dearest Friend, for this Thy dying sorrow, Thy pity without end?” (LSB 450:5).  He had such limitless pity and compassion.  Yet, the look of compassion from the face of the mocked King extends, not only to His torturers, but also to every human being, who are all complicit in His death.  “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they doing,” He would say a few hours later (Luke 23:34).

Of course, the truth beyond all truths is that Jesus is King–the King promised to the Jews.  Yes, Jesus is the long-awaited Son of David.  But even more, He is the King for the Gentiles and their Ruler.  He is the One to whom the entire universe belongs.

We, including those who mocked and shamed Him, owe our existence to His will that we exist.  You will never ponder the Passion as you should, unless you remember that a single thought from Jesus could have undone everyone who sought His death.  A single thought from Jesus could have destroyed us all.

But in that highest provocation, Jesus only responds in love, compassion, and mercy.  For that is what fills Him.  That is who Jesus is.  And that is how He reigns as King above all kings: He rules in love, a love that hate can never conquer.

For you see, Jesus is determined to share fully in the lot that we have chosen for ourselves.  We were destined to sit on thrones of glory, to have majestic garments robe us, and to wear crowns on our heads.  Such was what our God wanted for us.  That’s why He first created us.

But we threw away such glory and, instead, embraced the path of suffering and death, of loneliness and pain.  He would not have that be our end.  He came to walk that path as King, so through His sufferings, all that we lost could be restored to us again.

Jesus is stripped, so the bright robe of His righteousness could clothe our sinful nakedness.  He wears a crown of thorns, so we could wear a royal diadem.  He is ridiculed and belittled, so God the Father would welcome and treasure us.  Love Incarnate will overcome all hatred and mockery and yet still remain Love.  Only He opens the way for us to return from this misery of sin and death into the kingdom the Father planned for us from the beginning.

Jesus walks that way–that suffering way–in kingly fashion.  None of the mockery can rob Him of His majesty, glory, and peace.  He completes every act of His Passion in burning love for our fallen race, all to restore us to God’s loving graces.  He chooses to lay down His life, so we might live in Him.

Such love on His part gives birth to love on ours.  That is why we sing: “O make me Thine forever!  And should I fainting be, Lord, let me never, never, outlive my love for Thee” (LSB 450:5).

Behold, your King!  Behold–beneath the spit, blows, and blood–the eyes that look on you with tender compassion.  Behold, your King who cries out: “All this is for you, my child, for love of you, so you might live with Me forever.”  Amen.