Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Rosary Meditations: The Third Sorrowful Mystery – The Crowning of Thorns

Scripture References

Matthew 27:27-31; Mark 15:16-20; John 19:2-5

The Story in Brief

Before Jesus was crucified, the Roman soldiers decided to have a bit of “fun” at His expense. They gathered around Him, stripped Him, and clothed Him in a reddish purple robe. They made a crown of thorns and forced it onto His head. Then they put a reed in His right hand. They knelt before Him in mockery, saying “Hail, King of the Jews.” They spat on Him and struck Him. When they had finished, they dressed Him in His own clothes and led Him away to be crucified.

Points to Ponder

1. Before the Roman soldiers crucified Jesus, they tortured Him by crowning Him with thorns and mocking Him as “King of the Jews!” Why would the soldiers do such a thing?

2. Matthew and Mark say that the soldiers, probably the leaders, gathered the whole cohort around Jesus. Try to picture the various soldiers. Do you think they all participated in this cruel mockery? Or were there some who were appalled?

3. The soldiers stripped Jesus. Remember that He was badly wounded from the scourging. Consider His pain as His wounds were torn open.

4. Think about the humiliation Jesus suffered when He was forcibly stripped. Remember that He could have stopped all of this at any point, but He chose not to.

5. The soldiers dressed Jesus in a robe. Matthew tells us that it was scarlet while Mark and John describe it as purple. The Greek words used by Mark and John both refer to a reddish purple that could easily resemble a faded scarlet. More to the point, ponder the significance of these colors. Why would Matthew tell us that the cloak was scarlet? What does the color scarlet make you think of? Why would Mark and John identify the color as purple? Why did they choose a different focus? What does purple signify? Recall that purple dye was generally quite expensive and used for clothing of the elite classes.

6. Ponder the crown of thorns. The thorns the soldiers used were not the small thorns we encounter on roses. They were long, tough, and sharp. Some authors have suggested that the soldiers may have pushed the thorns through an old basket and placed that on Jesus' head. In any case, these thorns would have caused Jesus great agony as they were forced into His scalp.

7. The soldiers placed a reed in Jesus' right hand. Why did they do so?

8. The soldiers then mocked Jesus, kneeling before Him in false veneration and saying “Hail, King of the Jews.” Picture the scene. Reflect on how much this mockery must have hurt Jesus. He loved these men. He came to save them, too.

9. Consider the irony here. Jesus is a King, the King of the entire universe. Those mocking Him didn't know that, of course. They didn't realize that they should have been falling on their faces before Jesus in adoration. Instead, they laughed at their cruel jokes.

10. The soldiers went even further than nasty words and false bows. They spat on Jesus. They snatched the reed from His hand and hit Him on the head with it. What is your response to this kind of violence?

11. After the soldiers had tired of their abhorrent game, they stripped Jesus of the robe and put His own clothes back on Him. Then they led Him away to be crucified. Ponder this final scene.

12. In John's Gospel, Pilate presented Jesus to the crowd one more time while He was still wearing the crown of thorns and the robe. This is not contradictory to the other Gospels. John simply chose to include an event that the others, for whatever reason, don't mention. The crowds rejected Jesus and called for His crucifixion. Meditate on Pilate's actions, Jesus' appearance, and the crowd's response.

13. What does the crowning of thorns reveal to us about Jesus? Consider His silence in the face of the soldiers' cruel mockery and physical abuse.

Application Questions

1. Have you ever seen or been part of a crowd that was being cruel to another person? What did it make you feel like? Did you do anything to stop it?
2. Have you ever been abused and mocked? How did you respond? Where did you turn for help?

3. Is Jesus Christ the King of your life? Why or why not? What difference does it make in your life when Jesus is in command?

4. Do people or things sometimes take Jesus' place as King of your life? Why? What are they? How might you put these people or things in their proper positions?

5. Is there any mental or physical pain that Jesus can't understand? Do you bring your mental and physical pain to Jesus? When you do so, is that pain easier to bear? How so?

6. Do you value silence in the face of abuse? Why or why not?

Prayer, Prayer, and More Prayer

Blessing and Adoration – Jesus, we bow our heads in silent adoration as we contemplate You wearing the crown of thorns and the robe of mockery. We know that You could have stopped the whole thing at any moment, but You didn't because You were doing it all for us. We love You, Jesus.

Praise – We praise You, Jesus, for Your great courage, patience, and love in the face of such cruelty as You experienced during the crowning of thorns. We praise You for loving us so much that You willingly suffered this kind of brutality.

Thanksgiving – And we thank You, Lord. We can never thank You enough for what You have done to save us. You experienced pain beyond telling, both physical and emotional. But You never complained. You love us that much, Lord, and we can never thank You enough.

Intercession – Jesus, we lift up to You all those who are experiencing physical and/or mental abuse. Please wrap them up in Your love, comfort them, and give them strength. We lift up their abusers. Touch their hearts, Lord, and change them. We lift up those who are too afraid to stand up for those they see being mocked and abused. Fill them with courage, Lord, so they may do what they know is right.

Petition – Jesus, please give us the strength to bear all of our sufferings and to unite our pain with Yours. Please help us to imitate You when we are mocked and abused and not lash out at our abusers but continue to love them and pray for them.

Quotes from the Saints

“He had been styled King of the Jews, and the Scribes and Priests had brought this charge against Him, that He claimed sovereignty over the Jewish nation; hence this mockery of the soldiers, taking away His own garments, they put on Him a scarlet cloak to represent that purple fringe which kings of old used to wear, for the diadem they put on Him a crown of thorns, and for the regal scepter give Him a reed, and perform adoration to Him as to a king.” - St. Jerome

“What should we henceforth care if any one insults us, after Christ has thus suffered? The utmost that cruel outrage could do was put in practice against Christ; and not one member only, but His whole body suffered injuries; His head from the crown, the reed, and the buffetings; His face which was spit upon; His cheeks which they smote with the palms of their hands; His whole body from the scourging, the stripping to put on the cloak, and the mockery of homage; His hands from the reed which they put into them in mimicry of a scepter; as though they were afraid of omitting aught of indignity.” - St. John Chrysostom

“The Lord having taken upon Him all the infirmities of our body, is then covered with the scarlet colored blood of all the martyrs, to whom is due the kingdom with Him; He is crowned with thorns, that is, with the sins of the Gentiles who once pierced Him, for there is a prick in thorns of which is woven the crown of victory for Christ. In the reed, He takes into His hand and supports the weakness and frailty of the Gentiles; and His head is smitten therewith that the weakness of the Gentiles sustained by Christ's hand may rest on God the Father, who is His head.” - St. Hilary

“But instead of the diadem, they put on Him a crown of thorns, wherefore it goes on, And platted a crown of thorns, and put it about his head. And for a royal scepter they give Him a reed, as Matthew writes, and they bow before Him as a king, wherefore there follows, And began to salute him, Hail, King of the Jews! And that the soldiers worshiped Him as one who falsely called Himself God, is clear from what is added: And bowing their knees, worshiped him, as though He pretended to be God.” St. Bede

“For instead of a diadem, they put upon Him a crown of thorns, and a purple robe to represent the purple robe which kings wear. Matthew says, a scarlet robe, but scarlet and purple are different names for the same color. And though the soldiers did this in mockery, yet to us their acts have a meaning. For by the crown of thorns is signified the taking of our sins upon Him, the thorns which the earth of our body brings forth. And the purple robe signifies the flesh crucified. For our Lord is robed in purple, wherever He is glorified by the triumphs of holy martyrs.” - St. Bede

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