One of the amazing things is this, near the end of Jesus’ earthly life, we find Him named King more frequently than throughout the whole of the years of His ministry.
Then came Jesus forth wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe…. And Pilate said “Behold your King.”
They spat in His face. Spitting in ones face, the ultimate act of hostility and contempt, there is also a suggestion by some that it is an assault on one’s manhood. But further, it’s the passing on of deadly diseases. Then they smote Him on the head and they plucked His beard. And so He stood with the blood from the thorn wounds mingling with the spittle. Was our King cross? No, for His only prayer would be, “Father forgive them, they know not what they do.” But while He stands the taunts are flung at Him from every corner. Somehow the taunts seem to merge into truth and the sheer sovereignty of a King breaks through the insults, the shame and the humiliation – the King, the King. “Father forgive them……….”
It is interesting the number of Christians who nearing martyrdom have asked God to forgive those who have persecuted them. Alexander Smellie in his book ‘Men of the Covenant’ writes the amazing story about Robert Baillie. Here’s an excerpt:
Robert Baillie a great-grandson of John Knox was arrested in the summer of 1683 and trumped up charges were laid against him stating that he was involved in a plot to ‘cut off the King and the Duke of York.’ Before his trial he was visited by Sir George Mackenzie the Lord Advocate, who would be prosecuting Baillie, and during their meeting, Mackenzie told him that he didn’t believe the charges laid against him.
The following day at his trial, Baillie addressed the jury, “As to the witnesses who have appeared against me I forgive them, but there is one thing that where I am injured to the last degree, that is to be charged with a plot to cut off the King and the Duke of York. I am in all probability to appear in a few hours before the tribunal of the Great Judge. In His omniscient presence, I solemnly declare that never was I prompted or privy to any such thing, and that I abhor and detest all thoughts and principles that would lead to touching the life and blood of his majesty or his royal brother or of any person whatever etc etc.’ With a sudden movement, he forsook the jury and fixed his eyes on Sir George Mackenzie, ‘My Lord Advocate, I think it strange that you accuse me of such abominable things. When you came to me in the prison you told me such things were laid to my charge, but that you did not believe them. Are you convinced in your conscience that I am guiltier now than I was at the interview where you acquitted me of guilt?” Mackenzie rose, annoyed and embarrassed. He replied, ‘I admit what you say. My thoughts were then as a private man; but what I say here is by special direction of the Privy Council. He’ – pointing to a man called Sir William Paterson, the clerk of the Justices – ‘he knows my orders.’ “Well, my lord” came Baillie’s stinging and unanswerable response, “if your lordship has one conscience for yourself and another for the Council, I pray God forgive you: I do.” He was executed on 24th December 1683. His head went to one place and the rest of his limbs were to be scattered throughout Scotland.’
“Father forgive them, they know not what they do” The words from our King on His cross.
“He humbled Himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross, God highly exalted Him and gave Him a name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”