Then Pilate therefore took Jesus, and scourged Him.
And the soldiers platted a crown of thorns, and put it on His head, and they put on Him a purple robe,
And said, Hail, King of the Jews! and they smote Him with their hands.
The introductory verses to this chapter are a very abbreviated description of the scourging, the crown of thorns, and the mistreatment by the Roman soldiers. Rome had mastered the fine art of inflicting indescribable pain, and seemed to enjoy mocking their victims beyond all things.
Scourging was used to weaken the victim, so that his death on the cross would be quicker; it was sometimes used as an interrogation technique; sometimes it was used as a punishment for unruly prisoners. It wasn’t unusual for the victim to die under the lash. Most fainted, which one might consider a blessing, except for the fact that the beating was halted until the prisoner revived. They wanted him to suffer every stroke.
The prisoner was fastened to a post or block in a partially stooped position, thus stretching the skin of his back. The weapon was many lashes tied together, with bits of metal, glass, stone, or bone tied onto the lashes. The process tore the back into pieces, exposing internal organs, and encircling the entire body. The pain as the lash was pulled away was horrific.
The thorn bushes of the area had long, hard, sharp thorns that tortured the head, forehead, cheeks, and neck of Jesus. Some have suggested that He probably suffered the terrible pain of the trigeminal nerve as the thorns penetrated into His face. The crown of thorns, of course, was a mockery of Jesus’ claim to be the King of the Jews. They laughed, and hit Him with their fists and open hands as they threw a purple robe over His shoulders, mocking Him again as a king. Purple was a very expensive dye, reserved for royalty or the very wealthy. I’ve often wondered where they got that robe.
Continuing their mockery, they bowed the knee, hailing Him as King of the Jews, and even putting a broken reed into His hands as His royal “sceptre.”
When this part of the process was complete, the soldiers took the broken, bloody Christ back to Pilate.