Jesus is in agony in the Garden of Gethsemane – It’s not just about fearing the torture He knows He will undergo very soon. It is not just this dread of the pain and the degradation. It’s not even just about the false accusations that will lead to His arrest and all the terrible things that follow. The innocent and pure being subjected to the same sentence reserved for the most depraved criminals is always wrong and always an outrage to those who know. But no one knows. Or, sadly the few who do know at a basic level do nothing to try to stop the nightmare that’s about to unfold. When Good is seemingly overcome by evil, when what is right must submit to all that is obviously wrong, there is every motive to retaliate, to fight back, to protest, to struggle against the injustice. But Jesus does none of these. And as He waits for the guards to arrive to arrest Him, He takes on the sins of the world. That is where the true agony comes from. He will bear all of it for our sakes. He will be obedient to His Father out of love for Him and the Triune God’s unfathomable love for us.
Jesus is scourged at the pillar – He’s bound to a pillar and stripped so that the the whip will make full contact with His skin and tear through it and rip some of it out with each blow that lands upon his back. The whip used was called a flagellum which had weighted tips at the ends. It was weighted with stones or small bones. Some historic eye witness accounts from that era related that the veins and arteries and muscle were often exposed. The flesh of the body was literally brutally stripped away. That type of flogging was intended often be a sufficient punishment for crimes since it is excruciating and humiliating all on its own, performed publicly for anyone to see and jeer at the suffering one. The accused often died from this punishment alone and it was not connected with a subsequent crucifixion. But those who are angry and jealous of Jesus won’t stop there. That can never be enough.
Jesus is crowned with thorns – Why a crown of thorns? It is meant to mock the claim that He is King of the Jews. It is meant to once again humiliate Jesus. And it is a macabre idea that one of the guards has, to fashion the crown out of thorns. It is the antithesis of the gold, jewel encrusted crowns a regal personage would wear upon his head. It is ugly, and it is intended to cause pain, and the spiny thorns will puncture holes in the skin of the skull just as the burrs in the flagellum tore holes in the skin of His body. It is meant to be an absurd parody of what a king would look like. The blood from those wounds on His head will run down into the Lord’s eyes, mixed with tears, to be sure, and they make it almost impossible to see anything clearly. The crown this King of Kings should wear has been replaced by a crown that no one should be forced to wear, but Jesus least of all.
Jesus carries His cross – Given all He has endured already this day, it is remarkable that He can carry anything at all, let alone stand up and walk. If Simon of Cyrene was enlisted to help carry Jesus’ cross at some point on the way to Calvary it should surprise no one. How much can one man bear? How much more of the intense pain, loss of blood, continual mocking can He endure? Tradition says He falls, once, twice, and three times. But every time He rises and walks on toward His death.
Jesus is crucified – Such a simple statement. 3 words. But to truly comprehend what that means is horrifying. This death by torture that He did not deserve, at the hands of ignorant people, who seem to have enjoyed inflicting pain and many others who seemed to enjoy watching an innocent man suffer. But we know it’s Jesus, true God and true Man. The one without sin is suffering and dying for each of us. It is a horrible indignation for any human, no matter what He has done. But when Love is crucified, there is such remorse and sorrow on our part for causing this to have to pass. Jesus asks the Father to forgive them for “they know not what they do.” But we know what we do. And we should meditate on our sins and what Our Lord endured for us before we ever sin again. And know we are forgiven everything if we just ask.