Wednesday, April 1, 2015

fabrics of Easter, day 4

27 Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole Roman cohort around Him. 28 They stripped Him and put a scarlet robe on Him. 29 And after twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on His head, and a reed in His right hand; and they knelt down before Him and mocked Him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” 30 They spat on Him, and took the reed and began to beat Him on the head. 31 After they had mocked Him, they took the scarlet robe off Him and put His own garments back on Him, and led Him away to crucify Him. ~ Matthew 27:27-31

Somewhere between sixth and eighth grade, I read Corrie Ten Boom's autobiography The Hiding Place. In the chapter where she and her sister were forced to strip with the other prisoners as they entered the Nazi concentration camp, she talks about the embarrassment she felt, and how mortified she was to be marching her old naked body in front of a group of uniformed men. She was reeling with the indignity of it all, and wondering how her sister Betsy, who like her had never married, was faring, when her sister leaned forward and commented that she had never before fully appreciated what Christ had endured.  As much as I like to think I would be like Betsy when faced with such torment, the reality is, I would probably be more angry and horrified like Corrie.

We know that whenever a person is arrested, they are required to strip and given prison uniforms to wear, at least, in most places. Sometimes even the body cavities are searched. Those two things alone would be mortifying to me. But Christ was placed in the center of jeering guards when stripped, who then threw a robe on him. Luke's Gospel says the placement of the robe and the beating actually happened at Herod's place, and he was sent back to Pilate's place still wearing the robe. John agrees with Matthew that the beating and the placement of the robe happened at Pilate's place. John also states Jesus was paraded in front of the Jewish leaders who had him arrested with the robe and crown, and after his scourging (flogging) before Pilate made a final decision.

We will never know all the minute details of what happened when and where and why. I will never understand why people in authority, like policemen and guards and soldiers, feel compelled to humiliate their captives. But like Betsy Ten Boom, I can honestly say that my Savior has suffered all the indignities that mankind could think of. He truly understands what I face. He knows the fear. He gets the shame. He comprehends the hurt, the loneliness, the anger...every emotion that we might possible face. He's felt it and more.

I can't comprehend the insult and the irony of stripping a prisoner, and then forcing him to semi-cover himself with royal garments. I wonder who the robe belonged to. Was it Pilate's,  Herod's, something from a costume party one of the soldiers had attended? Did it belong to Pilate's wife or Herod's wife? We will never know. But the cruelty of humiliating someone with a strip, and then forcing props on them for the sole purpose of mockery is something Christ endured, simply so I could exit the sacrifice system. That's mighty amazing love.

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