Roman “Justice” on Display

Mark 15:1-20

Parallel Texts: Matthew 27:11-30; Luke 23:2-25; John 18:28-19:16

As usual, Mark is pithy, and a more complete version is available in the other accounts. The main thing that Mark conveys about this whole situation of Jesus before Pilate might just be the quality of the decision made by Pilate. In the other accounts, particularly in John’s, we can easily see that Pilate struggled with this issue, that he really didn’t want to have Jesus executed. While Mark certainly doesn’t dispute this, his brief account, his ‘just the facts’ version renders a clear picture of the bottom line: Pilate in the end, was concerned with his political best interests, and that meant sending a man he knew to be innocent to a terrible death.

There is an old word that describes the actions of Jesus’ accusers and judges, both Jewish and Gentile, that applies perfectly to this story, even though nobody uses it any more, that word is perfidy. Perfidy means treachery, untrustworthy and duplicitous, and that is exactly what has gone on here. The Pharisees, teachers of the law, high priest… and the Roman governor, all of them are guilty of perfidy. The question is why, and the soldiers give us the answer in their mocking of Jesus.

Read carefully verses 16-20.

At first glance, you might see a bored group of men in a very undesirable foreign post having a bit of rather sick and twisted sport with a condemned man. This man in their custody has obviously done something pretty bad; how often do the Jews and the Romans agree on anything? So here he is condemned to die… why not mess with him, he’s not a Roman, so they can do pretty much whatever they want as long as he doesn’t die just yet.

So they mock him; “hing of the Jews,” eh? Let’s have some fun…

They make him a crown of thorns and jam it on his head; that’s pretty funny. They find a purple robe, so they dress him up like a king with his new crown and beat him some more. Jesus must have made a hilarious sight for them, beaten, flogged, blood all over, blood running down his face dressed like some king!

King of the Jews!  Hilarious! They had no use for the Jews, they hated even being there, they wanted a posting somewhere civilized… they kneel before their “king” and have another laugh…

An officer tells them to quit fooling around and march the prisoner off to his execution… they hated this part.

That’s what you might see if you don’t read these verses with a more discerning eye, but look again.

This is done to Jesus every day, sometimes we even join in cursing His name, participating in jokes with others. The comments made by those who are ignorant of who and what Jesus is, the insults against His followers, the jabs at His word, the little cartoons and pictures with clever slogans on them that you see most days right here on WordPress that denigrate and demean Jesus. The people who do these things today are just as ignorant as those Roman soldiers were, and they are doing exactly the same thing, for all of them are acting in open and gross rebellion against Almighty God whether they comprehend it or not, just as the accusers and judges of Jesus were.

Solomon wrote that there is nothing new under the sun. He was right then, and nothing has changed now.

There has been perfidy on a grand scale, politics has won out over righteousness. There has been beating and torture, there has been open mocking of God, and Jesus is led to His death.  I’m sure the Sanhedrin was feeling relieved; in a short time this threat will be silenced once and for all and they can enjoy the holiday…

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About Don Merritt

A long time teacher and writer, Don hopes to share his varied life's experiences in a different way with a Christian perspective.
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10 Responses to Roman “Justice” on Display

  1. paulfg says:

    Don you have an exquisite love that outflows in every piece. An affection, a realness, a connection. Reading your words today and yesterday – it’s like you can’t help yourself. It is truly beautiful.

  2. jamabe12 says:

    Don,
    I enjoyed this post. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Tom says:

    The Roman soldiers saw Jesus as just another condemned man just like all the others they had crucified prior to Jesus. Today, sadly, many people still see Jesus that way…just a man. This makes it easy to mock Him. Excellent post.

  4. I glanced at your title and misread it; however it would be just as suitable to title this “Human Justice on Display.” We mortals rave over stars and athletes that represent what we’d like to be, but Jesus, who represented the truth, we rejected — and still reject, as you say, every day in many ways.

    I can’t help but feel the Roman soldiers saw Truth in Jesus’ eyes just as Pilate did. I don’t think they went to this length to mock Him just because He was a Jew but because, in His presence, they felt their own guilt.

    We are always a lot meaner to the people around us who remind us of our own guilt. A parent who feels like a failure; the child who’s most like him is the one he bashes the worst. When we see our own faults mirrored in theirs, we try much harder to put them down.

    So is our justice; we excuse ourselves for sins but hold our neighbor so much more guilty. I hear this a lot of times as non-religious family members make fun of “self-righteous religious hypocrites” for doing the same things they do. In effect they’re saying “I know this is wrong and I know you shouldn’t be doing this; because I do it openly I’m so much purer.”

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