Matthew 26:65-68. Then the high priest rent his clothes, saying, He hath spoken blasphemy; what further need have we of witnesses? behold, now ye have heard His blasphemy. What think ye? They answered and said, He is guilty of death. Then did they spit in His face, and buffeted Him; and others smote Him with the palms of their hands, saying, Prophesy unto us, thou Christ. Who is he that smote Thee?”
The only problem I have with the painting above is that as far as we are told in scripture, there were no Roman soldiers involved yet. At this point, it was strictly a Jewish affair, and the Romans weren’t terribly concerned until it became clear that there could be insurrection over this “prophet” from Galilee.
In any case, the trek toward Calvary had now begun in earnest. Finally, Caiaphas and his cohorts had it from Jesus’ own lips that He was the Christ; furthermore, that He prophesied His own return with great power.
Enough! As the Law dictated, Caiaphas tore both his outer and inner garments in a sign of grief and rejection over the “blasphemy” that Jesus had spoken, as if he, Caiaphas, was a holy, godly man who had no ulterior motives in this kangaroo court but to get rid of a heretic. He then turned to the Sanhedrin, asking them what they thought.
“He is guilty of death!” was the unanimous decision of this biased jury, and their decision led to the beginning of the horrible abuse Jesus would suffer over the next several hours.
To spit in one’s face is still the deepest insult, showing an utter disregard for the value of the person who was so treated.
To buffet was to strike heavily with their fists; others slapped His face with open palms, another deep insult. As they ganged up on Him, slapping, beating, spitting, they also mocked Him. It would seem the blows were coming from all directions, because they jeered at Him, say, “Tell us who hit You, Oh Christ!”
I imagine these men gleefully shoving Jesus from one person to another while He was attacked from every side. There was no gentleness in the treatment He received. Today, it would be considered akin to police brutality, and a dozen lawyers would be johnny-on-the-spot to defend Him. Not then, not there. Those who hated him were finally seeing an end to His power with the people.
I suppose there were also those involved who were just there to be a part of events, so they’d have a story to tell. Just as we always have looky-loos today, filming horrendous events with their celll phones without lending any aid to the victim, there were certainly those at Jesus’ trial who cared nothing for the proceedings except to claim they’d been there.
Human nature doesn’t change much.