“Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the governor’s headquarters, and they gathered the whole cohort around him. They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and after twisting some thorns into a crown, they put it on his head. They put a reed in his right hand and knelt before him and mocked him, saying, ‘Hail, King of the Jews!’ They spat on him, and took the reed and struck him on the head. After mocking him, they stripped him of the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him.” (Mt 27: 27-31)
Right after Pilate makes his final decision, “handing over” Jesus to be crucified (Mt 27: 26), the Roman soldiers do not immediately proceed to the task at hand. No, they take “time out” for this horrible, sadistic, and even ritualized scene of… bullying. Tragically, this scene plays out every day in our school courtyards. This “need” to take time out and hurt another, to mock another, is also on display in the internet, in the pointless yet very hurtful comments certain people take the time to make.
So this, too, was absorbed and carried by my Lord, in His life-giving journey of the Cross. He let Himself be undressed, “stripped,” then dressed and undressed again, by bullies. And He walks through it all; He descends into our darkness, even unto our death and our hell, in order to bring it out, in His resurrected Body. He says, Look, you have shamed Me, you have stripped Me, you have bullied Me, and yet I have come back to you in light and peace. Now stop doing it to yourselves. I have nailed your frustrations, your anger, your self-loathing, and your bullying to the cross. Let all of us, the bullies and the bullied, take pause, and hear Him today, saying, “Come to me, all you that are weary and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Mt 11: 28-29)