From Horae Homileticae (1832)
“He gave his back to the smiters.” Scourging was no part of the punishment of those who were crucified. The thieves who were crucified with our Lord, were not scourged. He was scourged in order to prevent his crucifixion. But a great variety of things which had no necessary connection with each other, yes, and some which could not, except by a miraculous interposition, combined together, were to meet in him. Though therefore he was to be crucified (which was not a Jewish, but a Roman punishment), he was also to be scourged: and most cruelly, as another prophecy declares, was this punishment inflicted on him, “the plowers plowing upon his back, and making long furrows there.”
“He gave his cheeks also to them that plucked off the hair.” When the ambassadors of David were, by the command of the king of Ammon, deprived of half their beards, they considered it as so great an indignity, that they were quite ashamed; and they were ordered to wait at Jericho till their beards were grown. But the indignity offered to our Lord was united with much cruelty: for they blindfolded him, and struck him with their hands, and plucked off the hair from his face, and insultingly asked, “Prophesy, O Christ: Who is it that struck you?”
But besides the scourging, and plucking off his hair, we are told, they spat in his face: “He hid not his face from shame and spitting.” Now in Eastern countries it is deemed an insult even to spit upon the ground in the presence of another: what then must it be to spit in his face? If a person would be so degraded by it as to be rendered fit to be excluded from the camp of Israel, what an inconceivable humiliation was it to the Son of God to be so treated! Yet thus he was treated, both in the palace of the high priest, and in Pilate’s judgment-hall, and that too by the lowest of the populace. How amazing it is, that, when Uzzah had been struck dead upon the spot for only touching the ark, which was a symbol of the Deity, such daring offenders as these, who so insulted the incarnate Deity himself, should escape, as it were, with impunity! But such were the sufferings which, as our surety, Jesus was ordained to bear; and they all came upon him in due season. But he willingly undertook to sustain them all…
In this view there is a peculiar importance in it, especially as introducing the account of all his sufferings; and it is exactly parallel to a passage in the Psalms, where the same subject is treated. David, beyond a doubt, refers to the appointment of God, that the slave, who, instead of claiming his liberty at the sabbatical year, should choose to continue in his master’s service, should have his ear bored to the doorpost with an awl by his master, and should never afterwards be free. Thus our blessed Lord undertook to execute all that was necessary for our redemption; and submitted, as it were, to have “his ear opened,” in token that he would never recede from his engagements. Accordingly we find, that, in the most trying circumstances, he “never turned back;” but, on the contrary, when the time for enduring them was arrived, “he steadfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem.”
It is true, he prayed for the removal of the bitter cup, if men could possibly be saved without his drinking it: but at the same time he submitted to drink it, saying, “Not my will, but thine, be done.” And again, when so oppressed in spirit that he knew not what to do, he said, “And now, Father, what shall I say? Save me from this hour? No: for this cause came I unto this hour: Father, glorify thy name.” At the time of his apprehension in the garden, he proved, by striking all his enemies to the ground with a word, that he could, if he chose, deliver himself from them: but he then meekly gave himself up into their hands, requiring only the peaceful dismission of his servants. Thus manifestly did he show that all his sufferings were voluntary, and that he endured them all in obedience to his Father’s will
Charles Simeon (1759-1836) was an English cleric, the most prominent evangelical Anglican leader of his time. He served Holy Trinity Church in Cambridge for 43 years, converting thousands of students, and inspiring many to ordained ministry, especially in the mission field. He helped to organize the Church Missionary Society and the British and Foreign Bible Society. His great work was the Horae Homileticae, a sermonical commentary on the whole Bible. He is commemorated on November 12 on the calendars of several Anglican churches.