Being Mocked – Mark 15: 16-32
There was a lot going on in that passage and a lot of it happening in quick succession. First the soldiers mock and beat Jesus, then he is crucified and both during his crucifixion and as he lies dying on the cross He is continually ridiculed and mocked. The passage then ends with not only the religious leaders ridiculing him but random people and even the other people crucified beside him also mocking Him. At almost every interaction Jesus has with people through these last tragic events involves people mocking him and this seems to me one of the main points that Mark wants to make in his account of these events. It seem to me that God, through this passage, Mark wants us to know something about the consequences of mocking people.
Other parts of the New Testament focus on this area also. We are warned against it by Jesus whilst during his Mount of Olives message. Peter in his 2 Epistle warns us that mockers will come in the last days and people continue to mock today, they mock both Christ and Christianity, and they mock Christians. I don’t mean they just question our faith, yes, some do that, but I mean people sometimes ridicule the Christian faith and they mock the Lord and sometimes they even make fun of us. I want to ask some questions of this text this morning. Like who is doing the mocking? Why are they doing it, and what does it mean. I also want to ask is if we too are mocked then how should we handle it?
In verse 16 soldiers led Jesus away into the palace and called together the whole company of soldiers. They take him to the courtyard of the Roman fortress that is built at the side of the temple grounds and they call out the whole garrison of soldiers. At this point he is surrounded by a very large number of Roman soldiers and Verse 17 then tells us; They put a purple robe on him, then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on him and they began to mockingly call out to him, “Hail, king of the Jews!”. They also put a crown of thorns on His head combining mockery with brutality in one action. Interestingly the focus of their mockery is the claim that He is “King of the Jews”; Jesus is so physically weakened by His scourging and His beatings he crumples beneath the load and the soldiers force somebody on the spot to carry the cross for him.
Then they bring Jesus to a hill called Golgotha and they crucify him. There was a tradition among the woman of Jerusalem that they would offer victims of crucifixion wine mixed with myrrh to help deaden the pain slightly of what was to come. But in this case, Jesus refused it. One commentator I read said Jesus did this not because he desired to suffer any more than necessary, but because He wanted to go into the presence of His father with his eyes wide open. Then we are told they separated His garments and hang Him on a cross, and from there He would have watched as they cast lots for the only thing he owned, a cloak. Then they put a written notice of the charge against him reading: the king of the Jews.
People make fun of Christians and say things like we use God as a crutch. In other words, they mock us for relying upon and being upheld by the Lord. They are of course absolutely correct in what they say. The next time someone says, your faith is a crutch. Try saying, yes. Perhaps then ask what they use for a crutch, is it a bottle, drugs, shopping, an affair. You might want to add, you know what, I like my crutch, better than you’re crutch. We are then told, they crucified him between two rebels, and the mocking continues, this time it is the passers-by who mock him. They say, save yourself and come down, and He choose to save us and stay up there. William Booth the founder of the salvation Army said; “It’s the fact that He stayed on the cross that makes me believe in Him”. The mockers wanted evidence He was the Messiah by coming down from the cross. Those who know Him as Lord recognise that it was His staying up there that made Him our saviour.
The Chief Priests mock Him. The Religious teachers mock Him, and even those crucified alongside Him mocked Him. Saying “He saved others”. Again, in the very mocking they mock him by saying exactly what He did. Even the soldiers who nailed Him to that cross heaped insults on Him as well. They all get in on the act, almost everyone in this passage in one way or another is seen to mock, make fun or insult Jesus.
Why does Mark draw attention to all this Mocking and abuse al this insulting? I believe is the main point is to show Jesus endured the mocking in order to continue doing the will of God. In simple terms, he endured the ridicule and he didn’t come down from the cross even though He had the power to do so, in order that he might continue to follow the will of the father. Jesus was mocked by religious sinners, Jesus was mocked by ignorant sinners and, Jesus was mocked by condemned sinners. So, here is the lesson. When you are mocked for being a believer, consider the source of the ridicule. Are they mocking because they are jealous, or are they mocking because they are frightened. Or are they mocking because underneath they feel convicted and want to project their feeling onto someone else. Are they in fact ridiculing you for something that is actually true. Are they mocking you because you love the Lord, because you rely on the Lord. Are they by ridiculing you, really just ridiculing the Lord. Like so many before them have done for over 2000 years.
Sometimes when we are mocked or mistreated or misunderstood, we naturally get upset. Jesus never respond to such verbal abuse. He did not listen to their demands that he come down from the cross. Jesus didn’t respond in the way they wanted, because they weren’t asking in a genuine way, and even if he had responded in the way they asked it would not have taught them anything. One of the lessons I believe this passage teaches is that we are not to listen to or respond to those who make fun of what we believe or who we believe in. Their ridiculing of the Lord should remain their problem, not something that become our problem or at worse something that influences what we believe. So, accept that, and don’t get discouraged, however, don’t get distracted. If you start living your Christian life as a reaction to them, you will not only get discouraged but you may get distracted from doing the work of the Lord. As believers it may be a hard message to hear but in a spiritual sense we need to stay on the cross. Imagine Jesus had listened to His mockers, and Jesus has responded to His mockers and done what they said. Imagine he had saved himself, and not us. If He had come down off that cross none of us would be sitting in this church here this morning. This room and this community of people would not even exist…. worldwide.
The lesson to learn from all this is that if you pay attention to, or listen to the wrong message, then great damage can be done, not only to you but to other believers. So, don’t get distracted, don’t listen to the mockers, just remain committed to doing the work of God regardless of what other say or do. Continue to follow Jesus in your work life, in your home life and in your personal life