These are the words that Jesus used to describe to the apostles what would happen to Him: “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and to the scribes; and they will condemn Him to death and deliver Him to the Gentiles; and they will mock Him, and scourge Him, and spit on Him, and kill Him. And the third day He will rise again.” (Mark 10:33-34)
Knowing this terrible fate awaited Him, He still bravely faced and endured it. Typically, we try to avoid discomfort of every kind. He did not shrink back. He did not run away. He did not exert His unlimited power to defeat the weaklings who would inflict this mistreatment on Him. He knew what He would have to do to be our Savior. He knew victory would ultimately be His and only through Him could victory be ours. Yet, it still knocks me to my knees to read how they abused my Lord. Look at just the four types of cruelty inflicted upon Him according to verse 34.
They mocked Him. Remember in school when someone made fun of your shirt, hair, or something else about you. The scars of such mental taunting remain with some people for a lifetime. Children on the playground are cruel, but what Jesus endured was so much worse. The original word is the word from which our English word ‘emphasis’ originates. It means to lay particular stress or importance on something. This emphasis can be done by pointing out a good quality, but it is used negatively in this passage to describe how they sought to insult Jesus and question His identity and deny His power. One of the most striking examples of this mockery is recorded in Matthew 27:42: “He saved others; Himself He cannot save. If He is the King of Israel, let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe Him.” Jesus had saved others from death and disease. Had he come down from the cross, He could not have saved us! His enemies would not believe even if Jesus rescued Himself from the cross, and we would not have the opportunity to be saved. He endured the mockery to save us!
They spit upon Him. Spitting on others is regarded as a sign of disrespect since ancient times. Job noted his deplorable condition made him liable to such ill-treatment in 17:6 and 30:10. If someone attempted to spit upon us, we would retaliate with similar or worse action in response. In a striking prophecy given more than seven centuries before the birth of Christ, Isaiah records: “I gave My back to those who struck Me, and My cheeks to those who plucked out the beard; I did not hide My face from shame and spitting.” (Isaiah 50:6) Jesus had used His saliva to heal a blind man in Mark 8:22-26, but His enemies used theirs to denigrate and scorn the Sinless Savior.
They scourged Him. The prophetic passage cited above from Isaiah 50:6 alludes to how Jesus gave His back to those that would strike Him. The details of scourging are so horrific and the effects so damaging that many men could not survive the ordeal. Jesus endured this and finally was crucified and experienced the agonies of the cross.
Who are the “they” that did this? Some answer this question by pointing at the envious Jewish leaders and/or others at the oppressive Roman government, but Scripture provides this answer. “Who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed.” (1 Peter 2:24) This is what you and I did to Jesus – are we thankful for what He endured for us? Do we show our gratitude by living lives of obedience and faithful service? Remember what both they and we did to Him!