The book of John has consumed my Bible study time for the past few months and now I’ve arrived at the Gospel writer’s description of the Lord’s Passion.
It’s not an easy read. After sixteen years of Christianity, it has never been and will never be an easy read.
And said, Hail, King of the Jews! and they smote him with their hands.
With His back in shreds and with blood pouring down his face, the soldiers drop to a mocking knee and cry “Hail King of the Jews!” Then they slapped Him across the face. There’s nothing physically painful about being slapped in the face that at all compares to the pain felt from the thorny crown or the scourging.
Getting slapped in the face a minor thing in comparison to what He’d already experienced. Instead this is done, not to bruise, but to deride. This is an act of pure contempt and bullying. They call Him a King, mockingly, and to prove their mockery and their superiority over Him they smote Him with their hands.
Matthew further records that they spat on Him and took a reed (basically a long stick) and put it in His hand to symbolize, mockingly, the scepter of a King. Jesus held it, limp and undignified, for a moment before they snatched it away from Him and struck Him over the head with it (Matthew 27:2-30).
He does not speak out. He does not fight back. He does not resist and He does not recoil. They mock His Kingship, His Kingdom, His power and authority. And He lets them. He never thinks “If I say nothing then they’ll think they’ve won.” He never thinks “If I do nothing, then I’m just letting them think they’re right.” He doesn’t do that, because that’s not what meekness and humility are all about.
Jesus suffered more than we ever could, but as an object lesson for us, He taught us how to suffer: He suffered silently.