Seven Shocking Sins (2)
In the previous article we looked at (1) the scourging of Jesus, as well as his being (2) adorned with a scarlet robe and (3) a crown of thorns.
Although it may seem rather innocuous, the fourth of these seven shocking sins occurred when they placed a reed for a scepter in his hand (v. 29).
The reed was again an instrument of mockery, for the monarch's scepter was a symbol of his authority and power. Thus, the point of the robe, the crown, and the reed was to portray Jesus as a caricature of the kings with which they were familiar. After all, had not Jesus claimed to be a king? Knowing this, they scornfully and sarcastically decked him out as the king he claimed to be, and made him an object of ridicule. Clearly, then, the soldiers treated Jesus this way because he did not live up to their expectations of what a king should be.
Only Matthew tells us that they actually put the reed in his hand, again mocking his claim to be a king who rules with a rod of authority. They undoubtedly beat him on the head in order that with each blow the thorns might dig deeper and more painfully into his scalp.
Fifth, they knelt before him and mocked him (v. 29)
This was yet another illustration of human depravity as they pretend to recognize his regal claim. The cry, "Hail, King of the Jews!" corresponds formally to the Roman acclamation, "Hail, Caesar!" while the bending of the knee and paying homage parodied what was required of all in the presence of a ruler of Rome.
Their derisive mocking of this expression of submission to him, calls to mind what Paul says will quite literally occur on the day of final judgment (see Philippians 2:9-11). All will bend the knee and bow down and declare him truly to be Lord. Some will do so joyfully and with deep delight. Others will be forced to their knees and compelled to acknowledge what they, during this life, denied.
That Jesus was blindfolded, hit, and asked to identify his attacker (Matt. 26:67-68) was based on a Jewish test by which the Messiah was to be revealed (see Isaiah 11:2-4). Since it was believed that the Messiah will use neither eyes nor ears, he must judge by the sense of smell. Thus, this treatment of Jesus is but another taunt based on his claim to be the Messiah: "If you are truly who you claim to be, you should be able to identify your attacker without seeing him!"
And to all this he willingly yielded, out of love for his own!