“So the soldiers took charge of Jesus.”
John 19:16 (NIV)
Like all grandparents I love to be with any of my grandchildren at any time possible. I am sure all of them have some idea that they can get me to do almost anything for them if they only ask. Sort of like the idea that they have me wrapped around their finger. There is no place that I would rather be I suppose than with one or another of them.
It is all good fun and I love driving them places, taking older ones to the Messiah with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, to plays, the Toronto Science Centre, or any other thing they want to do. When I am with my 2 year old grandson for example, he gets me down on the floor peering for alligators under his bed. We both know there aren’t any animals there but it is a game where he can get Grandpa doing his will.
The verse for today has a remarkable irony to it. It states something that is rather easy to understand. Roman soldiers roughly handled our Lord, flogging Him, mocking Him, and forcing Him to carry His cross to the place of execution. It was the soldiers who were in charge of the situation and not our Lord. That is the plain meaning of the statement in the verse.
Yet Who is it that the soldiers are bullying around? Who is the One they dominate? Who is the Man whose life they will soon terminate? Jesus is clearly seen in Scripture as the One who created matter (John 6:1-13), He spoke and the storm ceased (Mark 4:39), He is the one who gives eternal life to whomsoever He will (John 17:2).
If Jesus is really all powerful why is He a victim of anyone? Surely He could wipe them all out with a word. Well, it is true that Jesus was and is the all powerful God of creation. Yet He was humiliated and crucified by men who did not understand what they were doing. They thought they were merely getting rid of a troublemaker. Yet far more was happening than they realised.
No, the situation does not make sense from one point of view. It seems impossible to tie the hands of the eternal God. Yet Jesus, who claimed various times to be God (John 8:56-59; 10:30-33), was allowing Himself to be treated in this manner. The horrors Jesus endured are beyond imagination. Why did He allow this?
Jesus was suffering all of these things because He wished to substitute Himself for the sins of His people (Matthew 1:21). He took their place to satisfy the justice of God. The great hymn writer Isaac Watts puts it this way:
Was it for crimes that I have done, he groaned upon the tree?
Amazing pity! Grace unknown! And love beyond degree!
So then the Person who has suffered more than any other individual in history has done it for us. Can we not learn to endure when we are called to suffer in lesser ways in this life?