Mark 15:16-20 (ESV)
16 And the soldiers led him away inside the palace (that is, the governor’s headquarters), and they called together the whole battalion. 17 And they clothed him in a purple cloak, and twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on him. 18 And they began to salute him, “Hail, King of the Jews!” 19 And they were striking his head with a reed and spitting on him and kneeling down in homage to him. 20 And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the purple cloak and put his own clothes on him. And they led him out to crucify him.
After Jesus was scourged, the Roman soldiers took him to the governor’s palace. This “headquarters” probably referred to Herod’s palace, where one with the political status of a governor may have stayed during the Passover festival. Jewish history books describe Herod’s palace as large, lush, and lavish. When Jesus arrived, a battalion of soldiers gathered together to taunt him. A battalion or cohort of soldiers was a tenth of a legion, and a legion was typically comprised of 6000 men. So this battalion could have contained 600 men, but most likely was made up of about 200 to 300 soldiers. The hundreds of Roman soldiers began to harass Jesus even further. They first put a purple robe on him because purple was the color of royalty. Then they drove a crown of thorns into his head and mocked him as they saluted him, “Hail, King of the Jews.” The soldiers went further until their mockery erupted in violence toward Jesus. They hit him over the head with something like a bamboo pole and spit on him while they kneeled before him, again mocking him as the “King.” What a horrific scene. Jesus was bloodied, and the soldiers continued to torment him. After they finished, they took the royal purple robe off his back and put his own clothes on his beaten body.
Jesus was betrayed by Judas, arrested by a crowd of Romans, taken away to impromptu trials, severely scourged, dressed as a king, hit over the head multiple times with a pole, mocked, and even spit upon. It should be difficult for us to think about the absolute nightmare Jesus experienced in his last hours on earth. But at the same time, if we are to see ourselves rightly, it is something we must consider every now and then. Theologian John Calvin noted that as sinful beings we deserve God’s hatred “and that all the angels should spit upon us; but Christ, in order to present us pure and unspotted in the presence of the Father, resolved to be spat upon,” so that we could be seen as blameless in his sight. If you are feeling discouraged, thinking things just aren’t fair in this life, you’re right. It’s not fair that Jesus was spit upon so that you could be reconciled to God. Remember, if God chose to treat us according to what we deserve, t no one, not even one, could stand before him. Thank God for his grace today.