The soldiers led Jesus away into the palace (that is, the Praetorium) and called together the whole company of soldiers. They put a purple robe on him, then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on him. And they began to call out to him, "Hail, king of the Jews!" Again and again they struck him on the head with a staff and spat on him. Falling on their knees, they paid homage to him. And when they had mocked him, they took off the purple robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him out to crucify him.
In a Nutshell
The Roman soldiers mocked Jesus. They showed disrespect to the One who was suffering injustice.
Think about the women who were watching all this. How would they have felt? In a few hours their Rabbi is made into a hated, tortured criminal.
Don't ever hate. Jesus taught that hate is murder in God's eyes. Don't ever hate people of Jewish background. In fact don't hate anyone for their background. Come to think of it. Don't ever hate anyone.
You know how the Nazis and others tried to exterminate the Jews from Europe.
Jesus was a Jew. Don't hate the Jews. Don't hate the Arabs. Remember the fig tree and accept God's miracle in your life. Forgive. Even forgive Nazis, Zionists and terrorists whether they are Islamist, Hindu, Christian supremacists or atheists. Follow Jesus - give up hate - love!
That's what it means to pray for God's forgiveness. We ask God, "Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who have cheated us, hurt us, been mean to us, done us in, sinned against us."
But look! The Roman army - the representatives of the Caesar who were keeping his colonies under iron control - are here shown to all the world as a régime that not only tolerated injustice but promoted it. Gross injustice.
Once a Jewish student at university came to me and said he was worried. Why? I asked. Well, he thought that if some Christians knew he was Jewish they might mark him down unfairly. It was a very strange conversation. In the middle of it, he said, But you Christians believe that Jesus was killed by us, Jews! That's what you believe, don't you? I was flummoxed for a minute or two. As a teacher I had to be ready to have some answers. On this occasion I could only say, As a Christian I have come to understand it was my sins that killed Jesus!
I was unsure about this answer at the time but then later I thought about it and decided that that was the best reply I could have given. Remember, Jesus was a Jew. Some people with Jewish ancestry rejected the Messiah, their Messiah - the one who brought God's salvation to us. Many still reject Him. You can argue until you are blue in the face - you can put all the best arguments forward, and still people may not believe. There are many of Christian and Jewish background, and Muslims too, who ignore the teaching that God came to us in the way He did. Jesus shared the conditions of life that we live in. He lived our life.
And salvation is of the Jews, as Jesus said to the woman of Samaria. But it was a Jewish crowd, presumably including some Jews who lived outside of Israel in the lands of the Mediterranean, that called for Barabbas to be set free. Then Pilate, the Roman Governor, washed his hands.
Remember what this passage of Mark's gospel says. Jesus would not have been nailed to a cross without the failure of the Roman system of justice that ruled in His land at that time. You may say the Apostle's creed sometimes at church. It says many things that Christians believe. One of the statements it makes is:
I believe … in Jesus Christ …. crucified under Pontius Pilate
Remember that. Remember the fig tree. Remember Jesus telling His disciples that if they really want to stand before the Most Holy One and pray for His Blessing, then they must receive the gift of forgiveness, because if we do not forgive as we have been forgiven our prayers will not be heard. So we must forgive. That includes all those who devise religious fakery. It means forgiveness for all religious hypocrites. It means Jesus instructed His disciples to obey God's laws and love their neighbours, whether that neighbour was Herod or Herodias, Pontius Pilate or the person who held the water-basin as Pilate washed his hands. And it included the Roman soldiers who led him out on to the road to the place of execution after treating him like an animal. But who ever treats an animal like that?