Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the governor’s headquarters, and they gathered the whole cohort around him. They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and after twisting some thorns into a crown, they put it on his head. They put a reed in his right hand and knelt before him and mocked him, saying, ‘Hail, King of the Jews!’ They spat on him, and took the reed and struck him on the head. After mocking him, they stripped him of the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him. (Matthew 27.27-31)
I remember when I was at school reading ‘The Lord of the Flies’ by William Golding and being shocked by the realisation of how dreadful we can so easily be when we allow ourselves to respond to our baser instincts. If we do, terrible things can happen. In the book Golding writes
Ralph wept for the end of innocence, the darkness of man’s heart, and the fall through the air of the true, wise friend called Piggy.
As the soldiers abuse, mock, torture Jesus we see the beast that is within us, unleashed and we weep for the end of innocence. And ‘the beast’ as Golding describes it still roams the earth as other prisoners are abused, mocked, ill-treated, as women are routinely raped in times of war, as people are trafficked, as children are abused.
Jesus wears the crown of thorns and the thorns still dig deep into humanity’s brow.
O sacred head, sore wounded,
defiled and put to scorn;
O kingly head surrounded
with mocking crown of thorn:
What sorrow mars thy grandeur?
Can death thy bloom deflower?
O countenance whose splendour
the hosts of heaven adore!