Glorious Cross March 1
How many blows inflicted on the naked body of Jesus in the Pretorium! How many drops of blood fell from his flesh! (Proper liturgy of the Crosiers, fourth Friday of Lent).
The whip is an instrument of punishment used often with the intention to reform someone. The hope is that with the lashes of the whip, the transgressor would be saved from his bad behavior and begin acting in a more acceptable way. Perhaps this was Pontius Pilate’s strategy with Jesus: having had him scourged, Pilate was hoping to control the growing threat to his sovereignty posed by this troublemaker. Or, at least, it was an attempt on his part to appease the Jewish leaders and to get them to retract their demand for capital punishment. In any case, scourging Jesus to shape him up was a promising punishment in Pilate’s eyes. But this is the question: to shape him up about what? Did he show himself a rebel against the occupying Roman regime? Then he would be punished as a political collaborator. Or, was he an apostate to the Jewish faith? In that case, he would be punished as a penitent. In fact, thanks to the whip, Jesus was very much revealed as the liberator of every regime in the world and the founder of a new, holy people. The whip accomplished its goal!
If you don’t crush the lemon, you will think it’s a bad herb. (African Proverb)