Inside the Praetorium
Text: Matthew 27 : 1 - 31
The word “praetorium” was used in a number of ways. It could refer to the headquarters of a Roman general, or it could simply refer to a large common hall used by the soldiers. There was a praetorium in the governor’s official residence. It was there that the calloused Roman soldiers mocked and tortured Jesus.
Matthew painfully described the torture that Jesus had to endure. Let us humbly and lovingly read what Jesus had to endure for the sake of carrying out God’s plan of salvation. Let us continue to bear in mind what the prophet Isaiah wrote in his book concerning the suffering of the Messiah.
“For the transgression of My people He was stricken…
Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him;
He has put Him to grief.
For He shall bear their iniquities.
And He bore the sin of many…”
ISAIAH 53:8f, 10a, 11f, 12f
MOCKING JESUS AS THE KING OF THE JEWS
This was the official charge. Jesus was accused of committing treason because He was supposed to have made himself ‘King of the Jews’. The other charges like blasphemy etc were more of a religious nature, and Rome did not have laws that discriminated against the religious beliefs and practices of the subjects it ruled.
With this theme in mind, the Roman soldiers resorted to bullying games with Jesus as the target of their sick jokes!
1. Playing a Charade
a) ‘A scarlet robe’
Scarlet was not a colour common people wore. It was reserved for the rich, the powerful and the influential. The soldiers must have found an old scarlet robe somewhere and they thought that it would be fun to dress Jesus up.
b) ‘A crown of thorns’
A king deserved a crown. Where would they get a crown in short order? They would make one just for Jesus! They would make Him a special crown – of thorns!
c) “A reed in His right hand”
The charade would not be complete unless Jesus had a scepter as well. The soldiers decided that Jesus would have a reed as a scepter. The scepter of kings was usually ornate pieces made of gold and often studded with precious stones. A reed scepter was thrust into the right hand of Jesus.
d) “They bowed the knee before Him…”
A king must have subjects. He must have people to attend him. A king must have soldiers too. They would be His army. Proper respect must be shown to a king. The soldiers bowed their knees to Jesus in cruel mockery!
e) “Hail, King of the Jews”
A king must be addressed correctly. The Romans greeted their emperor with “Hail, Caesar.’ These soldiers now greeted Jesus with mocking words, ‘Hail, king of the Jews.’
2. Unnecessary Cruelty
How the Roman soldiers must have laughed at Jesus! What kind of a king was He if they could mock Him in this manner? Suddenly the game took on a more sinister note.
a) “They spat on Him”
Like the Jews, the Romans resorted to spitting to express their vehemence and their disgust! To spit on someone was to shame him publicly.
b) “They took the reed and struck Him on the head”
The reed-scepter was wrenched from the hand of Jesus and used to strike Him on the head. Though a reed may not be useful in battling someone who attacked you with a sword, nevertheless, a reed can be used to inflict great pain. To be struck on the head must have caused Jesus great pain indeed.
c) “They took the (scarlet) robe off Him, and put His own clothes on Him”
That signaled the end of the cruel game the soldiers planned to mock Jesus. The “fun” was over. The soldiers must now make their way to the crucifixion grounds.
A SHOCKING ILLUSTRATION OF THE POWER OF SIN
Let us try and fathom the significance of Jesus having to endure the suffering He did.
1. If Man was allowed free reign
If man was allowed to sin as he wished, how would he behave? The suffering that Jesus underwent well illustrated the extent to which man can degenerate if sin was not dealt with.
2. The Nature of Sin
If ever one needed to illustrate the nature of sin, the suffering of Jesus would be the most apt illustration! Sin can harden the heart, corrupt the soul, and produce the meanest streak in the human being.
Jesus came not only to forgive sins, but to destroy its deadly power over man! He must first endure all that sinful man can hurl against Him. He must defeat sin in its own home ground. Jesus silently bore all the pain with implicit trust in His Father.