Thursday in Holy Week,
March 29, 2018
“Mocked and Crucified”
Now we’re in another courtyard – not the religious one where Peter denied him, but the government one, where a whole cohort of Roman soldiers will play with him, with purple cloak and crown of thorns, saluting ‘king of the jews’.
They mock him with a reed staff, spit at him, kneel in mock homage, then strip the cloak off, and give his own clothes back, and lead him out to crucifixion.
Simon of Cyrene - a north African – carries the cross. Tradition says that his sons Alexander and Rufus were leaders in the church in north Africa.
They offer him at Golgotha something to numb his pain, but he declines it – they crucify him, and roll the dice to see who gets to keep his clothes.
Nine in the morning, and he’s hanging – with a sign above him ‘The King of the Jews’ It is not yet ‘Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews’, in three languages, shortened to INRI on pulpits across Christendom since. Nor does anybody argue with Pilate about the inscription – as they will in later gospels.
He hangs between two bandits, one on each side.
People mock him.
Religious leaders mock him.
The bandits mock him – but we don’t have a script from them yet, as we will in later gospels.
This is a crucifixion of humiliation, today.
Other gospels will add more words, more eloquent serene sententiousness from Jesus – but not Mark.
Mark just recites the misunderstanding by the villains of what is going on.
I often say ‘go with the incompetence theory before the conspiracy theory’.
Worlds collide here, and the leaders of religion and government just manage their work-flow and trivialize something sacred. There is, in truth, nothing unsacred – just the sacred and the desecrated.
Don’t we all.
Then the soldiers led him into the courtyard of the palace
(that is, the governor’s headquarters);
and they called together the whole cohort.
And they clothed him in a purple cloak;
and after twisting some thorns into a crown,
they put it on him.
And they began saluting him,
‘Hail, King of the Jews!’
They struck his head with a reed,
spat upon him,
and knelt down in homage to him.
After mocking him,
they stripped him of the purple cloak
and put his own clothes on him.
Then they led him out to crucify him.
They compelled a passer-by,
who was coming in from the country,
to carry his cross;
it was Simon of Cyrene,
the father of Alexander and Rufus.
Then they brought Jesus
to the place called Golgotha
(which means the place of a skull).
And they offered him
wine mixed with myrrh;
but he did not take it.
And they crucified him,
and divided his clothes among them,
casting lots to decide what each should take.
It was nine o’clock in the morning
when they crucified him.
The inscription of the charge against him read,
‘The King of the Jews.’
And with him they crucified two bandits,
one on his right and one on his left.
Those who passed by derided him,
shaking their heads and saying,
‘Aha! You who would destroy the temple
and build it in three days,
and come down from the cross!’
In the same way the chief priests,
along with the scribes,
were also mocking him
‘He saved others;
he cannot save himself.
Let the Messiah,
the King of Israel,
come down from the cross now,
so that we may see and believe.’
Those who were crucified with him
also taunted him.