The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine and saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” Luke 23:36
I can remember, as a young boy, being sensitive to the mocking of other boys. I didn’t understand how mean was funny and I remember being hurt by those who practiced this kind of humor. I learned quickly though, and despite the fact that I disliked the behavior when aimed at me, in turn, I used it on others to feel better about myself.
Mocking may be the ugliest form of pride. In it, I not only claim superiority over another, but I ridicule him in a way that is designed to be condescending and hurtful. Maybe I’m motivated by feelings of inferiority, or maybe I truly feel that I’m better. Either way, I use mean as funny in a way that denigrates another while elevating myself.
In the account of the crucifixion of Jesus in the gospel of Luke, several extreme examples of mocking are recorded for us. We’re told that Jesus was mocked as he was beaten before Herod. The religious rulers and soldiers mocked him as he was crucified. Even one of the criminals being crucified next to him, mocked him. Having profound disdain for Jesus, those around him elevated themselves, while hurling insults. Their hateful words were designed to be hurtful. It wasn’t enough that they were killing him. They had to let him know, until the end, how little they thought of him.
As painful as mocking is to the one being mocked, it is profoundly toxic to the soul of the one doing the mocking. As I deride another, I indulge in a hideous pride that exalts myself at the cost to someone else. In my ridicule, I follow myself above all else, which, by definition means that I’m not following God.
Pride is so destructive precisely because it turns us from God. We cannot follow God and ourselves at the same time. We may not be mocking Jesus directly, like the soldiers did, but when we mock, we place ourselves in opposition to him just the same. Jesus commands us to be humble, kind, and loving. In mocking, we choose the opposite of what Christ wants us to be. If we desire the life, joy, and peace that God intends, we must choose to live as he commanded.