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Mark 15:19

ESV And they were striking his head with a reed and spitting on him and kneeling down in homage to him.
NIV Again and again they struck him on the head with a staff and spit on him. Falling on their knees, they paid homage to him.
NASB And they repeatedly beat His head with a reed and spit on Him, and kneeling, they bowed down before Him.
CSB They were hitting him on the head with a stick and spitting on him. Getting down on their knees, they were paying him homage.
NLT And they struck him on the head with a reed stick, spit on him, and dropped to their knees in mock worship.
KJV And they smote him on the head with a reed, and did spit upon him, and bowing their knees worshipped him.

What does Mark 15:19 mean?

The irony of this moment is horrifying. The guards think Jesus is an itinerant teacher from a backwards people who has the misfortune of becoming their plaything. Paul will have a very different interpretation (Philippians 2:4–11). Jesus is not a victim; He is humbling Himself and His will to His Father-God. In part because of Jesus' submission to the guards' blows and His agreement to go to the cross, God will exalt Him above the world, "so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father" (Philippians 2:10–11). For many of the soldiers, the next time they kneel before Jesus will probably be on their way to hell (Revelation 20:11–15), though some might later be convinced (Mark 15:39).

We may not beat people with reeds or spit on them, but those of us reading this passage today are not entirely unlike these soldiers. When presented with evidence that someone else is evil or foolish, we are often quick to join in the ridicule: especially on social media. Generally speaking, we rarely take the time to check sources and uncover the truth. The chief priests and scribes know the Jewish Scriptures and their rejection of Jesus has no excuse. Their "fake news" about Jesus spreads quickly to the integrity-challenged crowd. It empowers the soldiers who happily indulge their less-honorable urges on a man they know nothing about.

Proverbs 18:17 says, "The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him." Granted, Jesus refuses to defend Himself; He deliberately neglects to present His side of the case. But the Sanhedrin's claims are so specious and full of holes, even Pilate knows they're lying (Mark 15:10). It may be standard operating procedure to flog a prisoner, even before crucifying him, but the mocking the soldiers inflict on Jesus reflects their own character. We should be careful not to follow their example.
What is the Gospel?
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