Pauca Verba is Latin for A Few Words.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Jesus Scourged and Crowned With Thorns ~ The Sixth Station

Lucas Cranach ~ Christ Crowned with Thorns

Pilate then had Jesus taken away and scourged; and after this, the soldiers twisted some thorns into a crown and put it on his head and dressed him in a purple robe. They kept coming up to him and saying, Hail,king of the Jews! and slapping him in the face. (John 19: 1-3)

While ideally prisons are supposed to be  places of rehabilitation, too often they supply only punishment and revenge. The most terrible things happen in prisons.

The first thing that happens to prisoners is they are handcuffed and even shackled, rendering them dis-empowered. Jesus has entered that world of vulnerability and dis-empowerment. Anger is heaped on prisoners. A Roman cohort was six hundred soldiers and Saint John tells us that the whole cohort gathered around Jesus in the prison - perhaps a symbolic way of describing the enormity and brute power let loose on him. Luke's Gospel tells us that beyond the scourging and crowning with thorns, many other things were done.

Stripping, blindfolding, spitting, slapping, curses, whipping, mockery - it sounds like Abu Graib. Prisons are brutal places and ignorant, poorly trained, young, brute guards were and even are sometimes today, skilled in degrading cruelty. So yes, we can think the worst. The ancient world had no corner on cruelty.

Maybe someone will say, Why doesn't God do something about it? I would say rather, Why don't we do something about it? God has already. God has gone to the trouble of coming to us in Christ, to show us the most human way of kindness, mercy, justice and helpful, healing love. 


  1. Prison is a hard place with hardened people. The inmates and the guards are both exposed to the atrocities. Working in a prison is not easy. It is hard to separate the bad from the very bad. I find it hard to relate the prisons of today with the torture endured by Jesus. Jesus wasn't a hardened criminal.

  2. One doesn't have to be hardened prisoner to experience the horror of prison. Indeed, sometimes the little guy, the simple-minded or weak offender may suffer the greatest abuse. These prison shows on TV like Lockdown - give us a window into the depravity. Prisons in other parts of the world are even more "insane".