In our current series we’ve been going through an old list of questions and answers contained in the Westminster Larger Catechism published in 1648. In previous weeks we’ve been looking at how Christ was humbled in order to bring us eternal life. We’ve seen that Christ was humiliated throughout his life on earth and also by his death which involved Judas’ betrayal, the disciples’ desertion, the world’s rejection and condemnation by Pilate. This week I want to show that Jesus was also humiliated by the torment of his persecutors.
To be condemned by a court is something we would all find to be a humbling experience. But to be tormented before being executed is yet another level of degradation that none of us would want to experience. Yet that is what happened to Jesus Christ.
After his trial before Pilate, he was handed over to the soldiers for torment and then execution: ‘…he [Pilate] had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified. Then the governor’s soldiers took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole company of soldiers around him. They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head. They put a staff in his right hand and knelt in front of him and mocked him. “Hail, king of the Jews!” they said. They spit on him, and took the staff and struck him on the head again and again. After they had mocked him, they took off the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him’ (Matthew 27:26-31). What a humiliating time for Jesus. Flogged, stripped, dressed in mockery, spat on and struck on the head. All for no good reason.
Then even while Jesus was dying on the cross, the torment from his enemies continued. Whilst people passed the cross, they insulted him. We read: ‘Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, “You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!” In the same way the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders mocked him. “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! He’s the King of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. He trusts in God. Let God rescue him now if he wants him, for he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’ ” In the same way the robbers who were crucified with him also heaped insults on him’ (Matthew 27:39-44). As you can see, they even quoted his teachings and ridiculed them to his dying face.
So why would Jesus humble himself by allowing this to happen? Because of our sin we deserve to be humiliated for eternity in hell. But thankfully Jesus takes the eternal humility we deserve so we can have eternal glory instead. This eternal glory comes by trusting that Jesus was humiliated for you, even by the torment of his persecutors.
Do you trust in Christ’s humiliation for you so that you will have eternal glory in heaven?