Bearing the Shame
Shaper of my life, to You be the glory and the praise. You make all things new.
Consider: "Bearing shame and scoffing rude, in my place condemned he stood, sealed my pardon with his blood. Hallelujah! What a Savior" (Philip Bliss, 1838-76).
Anyone who has seen the film The Passion of the Christ will be aware of the physical cruelty of a Roman flogging and crucifixion. The physical suffering of Jesus should not be underestimated. As a result of it, he was physically incapable of carrying his cross. But the text of the Gospel does not emphasize this. The purpose of the physical cruelty was humiliation and shame, in a culture where honor was paramount. So Matthew describes the soldiers' cruel mock coronation. Mockery is the consistent feature of these verses, both before and after Jesus was nailed to the cross.
The one who would be worshiped by his disciples a few weeks later (Matt. 28:17) and by all his disciples down through the ages since then is subjected to sustained mockery: by the soldiers, the passersby, the chief priests, and even the ones crucified with him. The irony, which has been a feature of this whole Passion narrative, reaches its peak here, with the title nailed above Jesus' head. He is the King, but to establish his kingdom he must die for his future subjects. The soldiers were right. This was a coronation--on a cross! The mockery that he can't save himself is also ironically correct. If he were to save himself, he could not save us. It was not the Father's purpose to rescue him, but it was the purpose of Father and Son to rescue us through him. Faith is in Christ crucified, not Christ who escaped the cross. The chief priests claimed they would believe if he escaped the cross. We believe because he endured it for us.
Our shame is that our sin required the cross. His dishonor was the price of our pardon. Our honor is the extraordinary fact that he would do this for us.
Apply: In what ways does the agony of these insults deepen your appreciation for what Christ has done for you in his death?
Gracious Lord Jesus, You died that I might live. You were broken that I might be made whole. Your wondrous love amazes me.