It’s not really Good Friday anymore, but nonetheless I will reflect. I went to my church’s Moravian service today. What is a Moravian serivce. As service of readings from the gosepl interspersed with hymns, and nothing else. No sermon, no eucharist, no intercessory prayers. The lecter reads a scripture passage, we take a few minutes to contemplate on it, we sing a verse or two from a hymn, and then we move on to the next passage. Today’s readings, not surprisingly, were all those covering the arrest, trial, and crucifixion of Jesus.
One thing I paid attention to was the mentions of beatings and floggings, particularly how not special and noteworthy they were. Indeed, at that time it was just common sense that anyone who was arrested would be beaten. It would happen before, during, and after the trial, if they were lucky enough to get a trial. This type of torture was not considered a punishment or a part of the legal procedure as much as simply a means whereby the authorities demonstrated their absolute power. I noted how, even when Pilate was leanings towards releasing Jesus, he still offered to throw in a little bit of flogging, apparently because that’s what governors were supposed to do. [Luke 23:13-16]
Nowadays, in the United States, we have rules about how prisoners must be treated when they’re arrested. We don’t use beatings or other types of torture, we don’t mock them, we don’t spit on them, at least when we’re following the rules. This is certainly quite different from how it was done throughout most of history. It’s quite different from how it’s done in many countries today. So as we go through Holy Week, we should remember to see the face of Jesus in all victims of police abuse and humiliation at all times and places.