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Readings

Reading: Matthew 27:27-31

Supplementary Reading: Revelation 19:11-16

Devotional

Following his scourging on the orders of Pilate, we discover by reading John’s account, that Pilate was still looking for a way to see Jesus released. Immediately following his scourging Jesus remained the property of Pilate’s guards who were to have their own version of perverted fun. Even though the guards were employed by the Roman government it is likely they were recruited locally, possibly in the region of Syria and would have been familiar with the Aramaic language and Jewish customs.

Matthew records in detail the mockery dished out by these band of soldiers to Jesus. In all, he lists seven ways they disrespected the Son of God. First, they stripped him naked for the second time as they had done a short time before to lash his back. They had momentarily dressed him briefly covering his back which had been decimated by his scourging, now to be ripped off again leaving Jesus naked and exposed as they began their tirade of mockery. Secondly, they cast a used and washed-out scarlet soldiers’ cloak around his shoulders representing a royal purple robe favoured by rulers. Next, they created a crown from a thorn bush and pushed it onto his head, resulting in blood streaming down his face, neck and shoulders as the thorns pierced Jesus’ head. The thorns and thistles which entered the world as part of the curse (Gen 3:18) were now used to torment the creator. In more ways than one, The Son was redeeming the creation by bearing the curse on his body. To finish their cruel caricature of royalty they sat Jesus down and gave him a stick to represent a sceptre, the symbol of imperial authority and royalty. Now came the brutal mockery. In turn soldier after soldier, we are not told how many but Matthew says they gathered the ‘whole battalion’, would drop to his knee and say, ‘Hail’, which literally means ‘rejoice’, ‘King of the Jews’. Standing up they spat in his face and take the ‘sceptre’ from his hand, mocking his kingship by hitting this so-called king on the head with his own symbol of power.

The Apostle John records Pilate made yet another effort to free Jesus, forcefully expressing to the religious leaders and onlookers, he ‘found no guilt in him’ (John 19:4,6) as he brought Jesus before his accusers again, still wearing the crown of thorns and the second hand ‘royal’ cloak. But the crowd didn’t change their demand, Crucify Him!

In his last conversation with Jesus, the governor almost seems to be begging Jesus to talk, to give him something to work with, to recognise the authority he had to release or condemn Jesus to death.

Jesus answered him, “You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above.John 19:11

In the ’80s at our church, we often sang a song named; ‘Mighty Warrior’. It is based on the description of Jesus, King of Kings and Lord of Lords, revealed to John in Revelation 19. No matter the parody of kingship created by cruel soldiers, Jesus is now sitting on his throne of splendour leading the armies of heaven in their victory parade!

Mighty Warrior

Dressed for battle
Holy Lord of all is He
Commander in Chief
Bring us to attention
Lead us into battle
To crush the enemy

Satan has no authority
Here in this place
He has no authority here
For this habitation
Was fashioned for the Lord’s presence
No authority here

Jesus has all authority
Here in this place
He has all authority here
For this habitation
Was fashioned for the Lord’s presence
All authority here

Prayer

Lord God! We say with your servant Jeremiah, ‘it is you who have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by your outstretched arm! Nothing is too hard for you. O great and mighty God, whose name is the Lord of hosts, great in counsel and mighty in deed!’ Amen.

(Taken from Jeremiah’s prayer in Ch 32)

Based on today's reading, what is one thing God is saying to you?

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