1 Then therefore, Pilate took Jesus, and scourged him. 2 And the soldiers platting a crown of thorns, put it upon his head; and they put on him a purple garment. 3 And they came to him, and said: Hail, king of the Jews; and they gave him blows.
Chrysostom: Pilate having called Him the King of the Jews [John 18:39], they put the royal dress upon Him, in mockery.
Bede: Instead of a diadem, they put upon Him a crown of thorns, and a purple robe to represent the purple robe which kings wear. . . . Though the soldiers did this in mockery, yet to us their acts have a meaning. For by the crown of thorns is signified the taking of our sins upon Him, the thorns which the earth of our body brings forth. And the purple robe signifies the flesh crucified. For our Lord is robed in purple, wherever He is glorified by the triumphs of holy martyrs.
Augustine: Thus were fulfilled what Christ had prophesied of Himself; thus were martyrs taught to suffer all that the malice of persecutors could inflict; thus that kingdom which was not of this world conquers the proud world, not by fierce fighting, but by patient suffering.
4 Pilate therefore went forth again, and saith to them: Behold, I bring him forth unto you, that you may know that I find no cause in him. 5 (Jesus therefore came forth, bearing the crown of thorns and the purple garment.) . . .
Augustine: These things were not done without Pilate’s knowledge, whether he commanded, or only permitted them, for the reason we have mentioned, viz. that His enemies seeing the insults heaped upon Him, might not thirst any longer for His blood: Then came Jesus forth, wearing the crown of thorns, and the purple robe: not the insignia of empire, but the marks of ridicule.
5 . . . And he saith to them: Behold the Man.
Augustine: As if to say, If ye envy the King, spare the outcast. Ignominy overflows, let envy subside.
Scripture from the Douay-Rheims Bible. Commentary from St. Thomas Aquinas, Catena Aurea, Vol. IV (London: Rivington, 1845).