Mar. 11, 2012
The men who were guarding Jesus began mocking and beating him. They blindfolded him and demanded, “Prophesy! Who hit you?” and they said many other insulting things to him.
From here on out in the passion narratives, many specifics within the four gospel accounts (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) vary greatly. Matthew and Mark indicate the trial before the Sanhedrin happened during the night. Luke’s account times it closing towards morning, because of the cock crowing at Peter’s denial. Some accounts have Jesus attending two “trials” before the Jewish leaders. Luke only has one. John’s gospel says Jesus first went to Annas before going on trial with Caiaphas and the rest of the Jewish council.
How do we reconcile the four different accounts? Which is the “right” version? Maybe none of it happened because the authors can’t agree?
When this question comes up with folks at church, I often use this example. Let’s say that we were standing by the side of the road and witnessed a car accident. How many versions of the accident would we have? Exactly the same number as people who were present and witnessed the accident. Each person would remember slightly different details, maybe in a different order. Not everyone’s story may completely jive.
Let’s think this in terms of the Gospel accounts. Not every author is going to have exactly the same details. Rather than getting frustrated by this, I encourage us to examine each story for it’s own worth. It’s OK to compare and contrast and use all four accounts to help us see a richer story.
We are at the part of the story when the beating of Jesus begins. Be prepared: the mistreatment of Jesus gets worse and worse as the story proceeds. In Luke’s gospel, the soldiers play blind man’s bluff with Jesus, which only heightens his humiliation and loneliness. But as we continue to read this story, notice that Jesus gives the impression as the one in control of the story and the scenes. He tolerates what is happening to him because he is aware these things must happen. They are consequences of his Father’s will. This is part of the way a prophet meets his fate in Jerusalem.
Jesus mistreatment is not only physical. It was also verbal. Words hurt. The soldiers had to have said some awful things to Jesus. Despite the physical and verbal abuse, Jesus remains stoic, controlled and dignified. Somehow, he let those words bounce off of him. Somehow, he numbs himself from the beating. Somehow, he endures. The only way this could have happened was if Jesus was truly the Son of God.
Let us pray: See him at the judgment hall, beaten, bound, reviled, arraigned. O the wormwood and the gall! O the pangs his soul sustained! Shun not suffering, shame or loss. Learn of Christ to bear the cross. Amen.