The Praetorium

So Pilate released Barabbas to them. He ordered Jesus flogged with a lead-tipped whip, then turned Him over to the Roman soldiers to be crucified. Some of the governor’s soldiers took Jesus into their headquarters and called out the entire regiment. They stripped Him and put a scarlet robe on Him. They wove thorn branches into a crown and put it on His head, and they placed a reed stick in His right hand as a scepter. Then they knelt before Him in mockery and taunted, “Hail! King of the Jews!” And they spit on him and grabbed the stick and struck Him on the head with it. (Matthew 27:26-30)

Some might call it the beginning of the end. Condemned by Pilate, the punishment of Jesus begins. The Roman soldiers take Jesus to the Praetorium where they bind Him to the whipping post, securing His hands over His head, and exposing His back. The soldiers proceed to lash Him with a three pronged, lead tipped whip for 40 lashes. Their intention is to weaken Him physically before His crucifixion so death will come sooner. To further humiliate Him, they fashion a crown of thorns and shove it down onto His head. They spit on Him. They slapped His face. They mocked Him by crying out, “Hail! King of the Jews!”

Interestingly enough, what the Roman soldiers thought was mockery was actually truth. Jesus was King of the Jews, but to the Romans, He was a criminal to be disposed of. Jesus did not respond to their mockery and He absorbed their blows without complaint. In doing so, He was fulfilling Isaiah 53:3-5: “He was despised and rejected- a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief. We turned our backs on Him and looked the other way. He was despised, and we did not care. Yet it was our weaknesses He carried; it was our sorrows that weighed Him down. And we thought His troubles were a punishment from God, a punishment for His own sins! But He was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed.”  

Within this physical flogging and mocking, we catch a glimpse of how foul our sins are to God. What was justifiable for us, punishment for our rebelliousness, He, an innocent man, the Son of God, took upon His own body because He loved us. We cannot appreciate how foul our sin must be to the Lord. Reflect for a moment on the punishment Jesus received in the Praetorium. That is how detestable our sin is to God. Jesus, His Son endured the brutality of the Roman soldiers so that we might be made whole. He endured physical, emotional, and spiritual degradation for our healing. 

Prayer: Lord, thank You for Your grace and mercy. Thank You for enduring the lashes, the mockery, and the abuse for me.

*Photo courtesy of Mads Schmidt Rasmussen