This blog offers a meditation on the Common Lectionary dauly readings along with a headline from world new
New English Translation (NET)
12 So Pilate spoke to them again, “Then what do you want me to do with the one you call king of the Jews?” 13 They shouted back, “Crucify him!” 14 Pilate asked them, “Why? What has he done wrong?” But they shouted more insistently, “Crucify him!” 15 Because he wanted to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas for them. Then, after he had Jesus flogged, he handed him over to be crucified.
Jesus is Mocked
16 So the soldiers led him into the palace (that is, the governor’s residence) and called together the whole cohort. 17 They put a purple cloak on him and after braiding a crown of thorns, they put it on him. 18 They began to salute him: “Hail, king of the Jews!” 19 Again and again they struck him on the head with a staff and spit on him. Then they knelt down and paid homage to him. 20 When they had finished mocking him, they stripped him of the purple cloak and put his own clothes back on him. Then they led him away to crucify him.
21 The soldiers forced a passerby to carry his cross, Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country (he was the father of Alexander and Rufus).
It’s doubtful if Mark knew Pilate’s motives, but his experience of Roman officials leads him to guess that he wasn’t overly concerned with justice. Pilate seems to have had a reputation for incompetence mixed with casual brutality (the historian Josephus presents him in this light), so Mark’s guess may be a good one. His picture of the behaviour of the soldiers is entirely convincing. The UK public is presently learning about the harsh behaviour of some of its soldiers in Iraq. “This is very bad,” say the politicians and high-ranking officers who never have to fight. Roman squaddies who faced the dangers of the Jewish intifada had little regard for any Jewish rebel in their clutches. The mockery and bullying is entirely probable.
In his suffering Jesus can be seen as a true King of the Jews, united with his often persecuted people in pain and death. It’s a pity that many Israeli people cannot see this identity which might lead them to identify with the victims of their power.
For Mark of course the story has a double irony: not only is the tortured Jesus the true Messiah, he is also the true king of ll humanity whose royalty is revealed in his suffering. Nothing in the gospel account however should make the reader forget that they are reading about an atrocity-a routine atrocity of power to be sure- but an appalling crime nevertheless, which should allow te reader to see in the faces of all tortured people of all nationalities, the face of Jesus; and to oppose such brutality with fierce loathing.
Again I recommend to all readers of this blog membership of Amnesty International, which investigates all allegations of torture and supports its victims. This is a way of taking the role of Simon from Cyrene.