16 The soldiers led Jesus away into the palace (that is, the Praetorium) and called together the whole company of soldiers. 17 They put a purple robe on him, then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on him. 18 And they began to call out to him, "Hail, king of the Jews!" 19 Again and again they struck him on the head with a staff and spit on him. Falling on their knees, they paid homage to him. 20 And when they had mocked him, they took off the purple robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him out to crucify him.
Thoughts: The soldiers of the greatest army of the world mocked Jesus as a king and as a God. For the Romans, there was no real difference between king and God (Augustus had instituted emperor worship). It is one thing to not believe, but it is another to actively persecute. What had Jesus done to these Romans? He did not (despite the encouragement of some) lead a rebellion against them. He paid his taxes. He submitted to their judge even though he was accused and convicted falsely. He never cried out against them in bitterness or fear. Certainly the crown of thorns represents how people honored Jesus in this life. Coming to earth to claim his crown cost him pain and death, not the real honor He deserved. The Church and its people should not expect or crave the honor of the world. Rather, we should seek the applause and honor of God- the one who truly counts. No one knows the names of any of these soldiers. The Roman empire they sought so hard to protect is long gone. But God's award for the risen Christ and his followers continues on.
Prayer: May my life, O Lord, not bring you dishonor but honor this day.
John Calvin abridged: We should see in this mocking what we deserve and what the Son of God took upon Himself for us. Our filthiness deserves the angels to spit upon us, but instead Christ allowed himself to be spat upon and face every kind of dishonor and reproach. His disgrace on this earth allows us to have favor with God. We should also learn from this that the kingdom of Christ should not be estimated by the way the world views Him, but by faith. So even now if the world mocks Christ let us rise above it by faith. We should not focus on the unworthy opposition to Christ and His followers, but rather focus on the true crown and scepter so that he is raised above every man and even above every angel.