Scourging and Crucifixion

passion of Christ 2

Then he released Barabbas for them; but after having Jesus scourged, he handed Him over to be crucified. (Matthew 27:26)

Then he released Barabbas for them; but after having Jesus scourged, he handed Him over to be crucified. (Mark 15:15)

Pilate then took Jesus and scourged Him. (John 19:1)

So he then handed Him over to them to be crucified. (John 19:16)

Easter season is upon us, and the most glorious part is Easter Sunday itself and the resurrection of Jesus Christ, but today we will look at what happened on that Friday which today we call Good Friday.

The details of what scourging and crucifixion truly entails seems to be overlooked most of the time. Even though crucifixion is referenced as one of the most horrific forms of death imaginable most of the pictures and figurines we see of Jesus on the cross basically show him in a rather peaceful demeaner and show no evidence of the scourging.

But if we can look at the details of what scourging and crucifixion truly mean maybe we can have a deeper revelation of Jesus and what he did to take all our sins upon himself.

Scourged comes from the Greek work phragello, a word that was one of the most horrific, because of the terrible images that came to mind, and all it entailed.

The mere threat of being scourged would:

  • Calm a crowd
  • Bend the will of the strongest rebel

The scourge consisted of:

  • A short wooden handle
  • Several 18 – 24 inch long straps of leather equipped with
    • Sharp, rugged pieces of metal, wire and glass
    • Jagged fragments of bone

The offender/victim was:

  • Stripped completely naked so his entire flesh would be open and uncovered
  • Bound to a two-foot-high scoring post
    • Hands were tied over his head to a metal ring
    • He was stretched over the post
    • Wrists were securely shackled to the meatal ring to restrain his body movement
    • In this position he couldn’t wiggle or move
  • Just the anticipation of the first blow caused the:
    • Body to grow rigid
    • Muscles to knot
    • Color to drain from his cheeks
    • Lips to draw tight against his teeth
  • The leather straps with the jagged objects extended over the entire back or curled around his torso
  • Each piece of the metal, wire, bone or glass cut deeply into the flesh shredding the muscles
  • The torturers would jerk it back tearing whole pieces of human flesh from the body
  • This was done by more than one person; over and over
  • The back, buttocks, back of the leg, stomach, upper chest and face would be disfigured
  • If not stopped the whip would eventually flay the flesh off his body
  • Experiencing a profuse loss of blood and bodily fluids leads to shock and cardiac arrest.

It is often reference that Jesus suffered 39 lashes since the fortieth usually proved fatal but that was a Jewish law. It was the Romans that did the scourging and they had no limit so it is possible the torturers went well over the forty lashes.

Isaiah prophesied this

… So His appearance was marred more than any man and His form more than the sons of men. (Isaiah 52:14)

It is only after this that Jesus was handed over to be crucified.  The word crucified is the Greek work staurato, it was used to describe those hung up, impaled, or beheaded and then publicly displayed. For the Romans this was reserved for the most serious offenders, including treason and terrorism.

After reaching the place of the crucifixion the following is what happened to the offender/victim:

  • He was laid on the cross beam he carried with his arms outstretched
  • The soldier would drive a five-inch iron nail through each of his wrists into the crossbeam
  • The Romans were so good at this that they were able to strike the nerves in the wrist in such a way that intensified the pain
  • He was then hoisted up by rope until the crossbeam dropped into the upright post.
  • This caused excruciating pain as the hands and wrists were wrenched by the sudden jerking motion
  • This also can cause his arms to be pulled out their sockets.
  • Once he was in place his legs would be positioned so the feet were pointing downward with the soles pressed against the post
  • A long nail what then driven between the bones of the feet firmly enough to prevent it from tearing through the feet
  • In order to breath he had to push himself up by his feet but because of the pain he would eventually collapse back into the hanging position.
  • Added to this for Jesus, was the constant grating of his scourged back as he moved up and down
  • As he pushed up and collapsed eventually his shoulder dislocated and popped out of joint followed by elbow and wrists
  • This caused the arms to be extended up to nine inches longer than normal making it impossible to bring himself upward to breathe
  • The process of asphyxiation began, his heart began to fail, his lungs would collapse and excess fluids would fill the lining of his heart and lungs
  • This is where the blood and water mix that came pouring out Jesus side comes from

Jesus’ totally naked body was humiliating before those watching. His flesh was ripped to shreds; His body was bruised from head to toe; He had to heave His body upward for every breath He breathed; and His nervous system sent constant signals of excruciating pain through His body. Blood drenched Jesus’ face and streamed from His hands, His feet, and from the countless cuts and gaping wounds the scourging had left upon His body.

This was prophesied in Psalm 22

I am poured out like water. And my bones are out of joint; (Psalm 22:14)

                … A band of evildoers has encompassed me; They pierced my hands and feet. (Psalm 22:16)

Both the scourging and the crucifixion, in and of themselves, were horrendous forms of punishment and death so to go through both of them is beyond what most of us can comprehend. But that was the price of our sin.

Surely our griefs He Himself bore, and our sorrows He carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.  But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed.  All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; But the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him.  He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He did not open His mouth; Like a lamb that is led to slaughter, and like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, so He did not open His mouth.  But the Lord was pleased to crush Him, putting Him to grief; If He would render Himself as a guilt offering, He will see His offspring, He will prolong His days, and the good pleasure of the Lord will prosper in His hand.  As a result of the anguish of His soul, He will see it and be satisfied; By His knowledge the Righteous One, My Servant, will justify the many, as He will bear their iniquities.  Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great, and He will divide the booty with the strong; Because He poured out Himself to death, and was numbered with the transgressors; Yet He Himself bore the sin of many, and interceded for the transgressors. (Isaiah 53:4-12)

When Jesus died, he took all our sins with him and when He rose all of that sin was washed away. Hopefully this can enlighten you to what Jesus went through for each one of us. Because of that when God looks at us, He doesn’t see us through the blood of Christ, He sees us – cleansed!

(Most of this information can be found on Sparkling Gems by Rick Renner)

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