Week of March 8

God’s Whisper When We Suffer Unjustly

Read: Deuteronomy 7-9; Mark 15

“And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the purple cloak and put his own clothes on him. And they led him out to crucify him.”
Mark 15:20, ESV


Brother Lawrence once said, “You need not cry very loud; he is nearer to us than we think.” This man of God has reminded me of the power of Christ’s silence when He suffered for our sins (1 Peter 2:23-25). These were the darkest hours of the Savior’s walk on earth, and we often claim that it was during this time that God was far removed from him. I feel confident however that the word of God was whispering to his soul throughout this ordeal. We have much to learn today about how to share the message of love and peace even when we are mocked.

A Biblical Lens

“God had one Son on earth without sin, but never one without suffering.” 
Jesus was scourged in front of the palace of Herod and in the presence of all the people (15:16). Keep in mind that he was not guilty of any offense, but he was whipped until his body was in shreds. Bloodied and likely near collapse, he was taken inside the soldier’s barracks where the mistreatment was to continue. His rights were totally disregarded, but we need to be reminded that He was fulfilling His God-given duty as the sacrifice for our sins!

Take some time to consider the multiple levels of abuse encountered by the Savior. First, a gathered battalion of Roman soldiers parodied Christ (15:16-17). They would number anywhere from 200-600 troops. These were not regular army but were auxiliaries stationed around Jerusalem. They were recruited from non-Jews in Palestine and from the eastern part of the empire (NAC; EBC). These soldiers lampooned the Savior who loved all humanity.
“They gave our Master a crown of thorns. Why do we hope for a crown of roses?”
Martin Luther

Next, they clothed him with a purple cloak which was very expensive and was associated with royalty (15:17). The crown of thorns was probably not intended to inflict pain on Jesus but was made to resemble the laurel crown worn by the emperor. They heralded him with “Hail, king of the Jews!” This demonstration was to imitate the customary greeting for the Caesar (15:18). All of these actions were meant to mock the Lord, but we see how Jesus embraced his suffering and was clothed with royal dignity (HCBC).

Finally, the soldiers beat Jesus with a staff striking him on the head, spitting on him, and bowed before him (15:19; See HNTC). Like encircling sharks that become frenzied by the scent of blood, these soldiers abused the Lord in ways that we cannot even begin to imagine. At last, they tore away the bloodied robe that no doubt stuck to his body which would cause excruciating pain. They put his clothes on him again, and they took him back to Pilate where one final appeal was made to the crowd (John 19:4-16). The crowd roared, “Crucify him!” and they led him out to be crucified. Harry Emerson Fosdick once said, “No character is ultimately tested until it has suffered.” Jesus’ character was shown to be spotless in his suffering. Let’s consider how our own testimony may shine in suffering?

A Moral Pathway

“He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:32). Give us “all things?” There is much good that comes from suffering for the Lord in silence! Thomas Brooks reminds Christians that they should be “mute” or quiet under the smiting of God’s rod! [1] There are several reasons for doing so, which includes Christ’s example, but also because we simply choose to follow the footsteps of a great host of other Christians through the ages who have given witness to the power of Christ in their sufferings (Hebrews 12:1 ff). We, too, may know the comfort of God’s inward peace in such trials. Does anyone do such a thing today?

I’ll never forget the lesson learned from a mentor who endured a great amount of verbal mistreatment and written abuse in hate-filled missives during an especially contentious time in Baptist history. The lesson I learned was brought powerfully home to me well after the fact. You see, I never knew that he was bearing such a heavy cross because he never complained! He only had words of thanksgiving for God’s goodness. “Suffering can refine us rather than destroy us because God himself walks with us in the fire” (Timothy Keller).

For Your Journaling

1. Have you encountered some mocking or verbal harassment for your faith in Christ? How did you respond? Consider the power of silence when you suffer unjustly. How might it have been of benefit in your trial?

2. Our silence in a trial very often allows God’s whisper of love and hope to be spoken into the hearts of those who oppose us? (See Matthew 27:54). Write down ways that your silence in a time of harassment may be used as a testimony to God’s power over suffering.

May all your paths be straight,
Larry C. Ashlock

1. Thomas Brooks, “The Mute Christian under the Smarting Rod,” in The Works of Thomas Brooks, ed. 3. Alexander B. Grosart (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 2001), 1:312-19. Accessed at https://bit.ly/2I9CInQ.