My children often chide me about teasing because apparently I do not appreciate it as much as they do. They enjoy “teasing” and mimicking one another and sometimes I even get drawn into their jesting. One day my grown son repeated, in a playful “mom” voice, something I said to which I replied, “Don’t mock me!” He immediately repeated “Don’t mock me!” in an exaggerated, mocking voice to which everyone except me found themselves laughing hysterically. Of course it would have been more appropriate for me to say, “Don’t mimic me like that”. I have since discovered mocking usually carries a negative connotation and is intended to make someone feel silly which is why I dislike mocking so much. Ever since that day, whenever my children want to “loosen” mom up, they pull out the “Don’t mock me!” with the expressive “mom” voice and we all have a good laugh. Then reading through the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ betrayal and His appearance before Pilate, the mockery of Jesus as King became vivid, and I truly realized my son was not mocking me, not in the truest sense of the word.
The mocking Jesus endured gives vivid and dramatic account of the cruelty and viciousness behind mockery and the pain associated with it, for the person enduring it and those exposed to it (Matthew 27:27-31 and Mark 15:27-31). Unlike the humor our family enjoys in our misuse of the word “mock”, true mocking is not a laughing matter but is in fact very destructive. It means to ridicule, tease, laugh at, make fun of, scorn, etc. When a person is mocked they feel silly, humiliated, wounded, and their self-esteem and self-confidence plummet.
As the entire drama unfolds before Jesus’ crucifixion we are able to see the contagious effects of mockery. Jesus endured insult upon insult including being passed over as the released prisoner at the feast of Passover. Even though Pilate tried to convince the people to release Jesus because He was only handed over out of envy, and because his wife gave him a warning to have nothing to do with Jesus (she had been suffering in her dreams because of Him), the chief priests and elders persuaded the multitude to choose Barabbas instead. Pilate found Jesus to be a just person doing nothing deserving of death. However, his opinion of Jesus was not contagious. As the multitude continued to cry out “Crucify Him!” the opinion of the haters was very contagious. This is a good lesson for us. We may be a lone voice when it comes to supporting a just cause or person, but it matters not if people come along side us as long as we know the Truth. Following the crowd is usually a mistake especially if we do not know the whole truth.
When Jesus was brought to the Praetorium, the “common hall” or “headquarters” for the Roman camp, we continue to witness extreme cruelty. It is interesting to note the common hall was located in the governor’s house which should have been a place of shelter for those accused of crime, but in the case of Jesus, it turned out to be a theatre for violence. Somehow, though Pilate was opposed to the killing of Jesus, he still allowed the barbaric mistreatment of Jesus in his own home on his property. The entire band of soldiers attended this excessive display of abuse. It is estimated that between five and thirteen hundred men were either watching or involved in stripping Jesus of His clothes, dressing Him in a scarlet robe, twisting a crown of thorns and placing it on His head, and placing a reed in His right hand to symbolize a scepter in order to make sport of Him. The lunacy in this treatment is evident, yet those caught in the exhilaration of the moment were energized the longer it continued.
The soldiers completely misunderstood kingship, and Jesus’ purpose in life so they dressed Him in mock “kingly” clothing, then bowed down, saluted, and cruelly taunted Him saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” They laughed and scorned Jesus in fake subservience in order to humiliate and discredit Him. They did not know or see who He really was, therefore in their discomfort and hatred, they tried to make Him lower than themselves.
That is the whole point of mocking: Make an attempt to damage a person’s confidence, make them feel insecure about who they are, bring them down from a lofty place we perceive them to be in. We mock and cruelly tease people because there is something about a person we do not like or understand so we try to make them feel foolish in an attempt to squash any confidence they may have.
We observe another characteristic about human nature through this ruthless onslaught of abuse through mockery towards Jesus. The more people we can get to agree with us, the more we are allowed to attack without any hindrances, then the more empowered and righteous we feel in continuing our barrage of ridicule. If left unchecked, we lose all sense of decency or integrity as we completely give ourselves over to “mob mentality”.
Any time we are tempted to mock or spitefully belittle or abuse someone, we should allow Holy Spirit to search our hearts to discover what is going on inside which has created such disdain for another person. We do not want to allow mockery to have its way because it leads to even more destructive attitudes and actions. If we continue long enough to feed our appetite for ridicule it escalates.
In the case of Jesus of course we see the extreme, as mocking led to more hatred and abuse by the soldiers. I suppose we could all read this account and say “Not me! I would never do anything like they did!” If we find ourselves saying this, we need to immediately humble ourselves under the hand of Almighty God, for we are on the verge of deception, if not already there! Read the blog “What? Could You Not Watch With Me One Hour?” to see how Peter too thought “Not me!” and he was wrong.
If we can imagine this scene with Jesus in the Roman camp, grown men all around “toying” with Him, it is appalling to our natural minds, and was certainly repugnant to all those who loved Jesus at that time. But today we hear stories or see videos of nursing home aides abusing elderly people, groups of teenagers beating people with learning disabilities, riots initiated over someone’s perception of injustice, and the list goes on. The cruelty and abuse people carry out in the heat of the moment is incomprehensible. Yet this is exactly what we know Jesus experienced at the hands of these soldiers, whose vicious mocking developed into violent physical abuse. They spit, scourged, struck, and slapped as they continued to spew hatred upon our Savior. It all began with mocking then escalated to murder.
What may seem innocent at any given moment in time can have eternal ramifications! Most certainly the mocking of these soldiers towards our Savior had eternal ramifications for them and for us! Oh! Some good healthy teasing is refreshing and we definitely need to laugh at ourselves more. But mocking? Not in the truest sense of the word.
Thank You Jesus for the great sacrifice You made UPON the cross that day over two thousand years ago. Thank You for what You endured BEFORE going to the cross. Thank You for going TO the cross. Thank You for life today because OF the cross. We love YOU Jesus!