In us dealing with the part of the Apostles Creed that says … “Suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, He died and was buried” … we have started to see Isaiah’s prophecy (Chapter 53) come true. “Appearance disfigured, form marred beyond human likeness, pierced, crushed, punishment, wounds, oppressed, afflicted, to the slaughter, by oppression and judgment, cut off from the land of the living and stricken” … what alarming terms to describe what our Lord endured for us wicked, sinful people! He was guiltless and sinless, yet he was treated as the worst type of criminal. Before we get to angry, remember He endure this for you and me! Picking it up from yesterday …
(4) His flogging. Jesus was disrobed, His hands tied behind above His head onto a flogging post. The whip used was called a flagellum and designed to cause the most devastating punishment. Each length of leather contained two small balls of lead or iron near the end. Some whips had bones and pieces of metal imbedded into the leather. The soldier doing the flogging was well trained … he would whip across the shoulders, back, buttocks, thighs and legs bringing the victim close to death. Medical research shows that these lengths of embedded leather that struck the victim’s body, first produced superficial cuts … each time going deeper into the underlying tissue. Bleeding increased to flowing because not only were the capillaries and veins damaged, the arteries in the muscles where cut too. As horrific as it is, picture those balls at the end of the leather strips bruising skin and eventually breaking it open, then as the whip was withdrawn to hit again, the embedded bone ripped open more flesh each time. By the time the punished was completed, the skin on the back in particular hung in ribbons … with shoulders, sides, buttocks and legs bleeding profusely. Jesus would have fallen down after the rope tying his hands to the flogging post was cut. Oh no … you would not want this maniac, barbaric treatment imposed on your worst enemy.
5) Jesus being mocking. The Roman Military had perfected the art of pain and punishment … they would not have allowed Jesus time to recover from the whipping ordeal. They made Him stand, dressed Him in a robe as soldiers mocked Him. They took twigs of thorn and twisted it into a “crown”, forcing it onto His head … thorns piecing into his head, forehead and sides of His head. They put a wooden staff into His hand … and mocked Him, for now with robe and staff He resembled a king … and kneeling before Him they shouted:
Mat 27:29 “Hail, king of the Jews!” they said.
Then wickedly they spat in His face and taking the staff, repeatedly hit Him over the head. The mocking continued as they removed His robe, causing the dried blood on His back and sides to tear soft scabs away causing profuse bleeding. They dressed Him in His own clothing and marched Him off to be crucified. We can only imagine how physically and emotionally weak He was.
6) Jesus’ crucifixion. The horizontal log called the balibulum was extremely heavy and in Jesus’ condition He buckled trying to carry it. The weight was around 35 to 55 kilograms. As he collapsed, Simon of Cyrene was forced to carry this weigh. (As matter of information, but of interest for us in Africa … Cyrene was an ancient Greek city on the North African Coast, close to present day Shahhat, in northeast Libya.) Our Lord refused the wine mixed with myrrh He was offered to drink. Its intent was to dull the pain for what was to follow … the 6 inch by 3/8 inch thick (15.24cm x .95cm) nails in either wrist. He was thrown to the ground with the balibulum under his lacerated back, one arm at a time was lifted so that the nail could be hammered through his wrist (lower arm) between the bones and ligament, cutting the large sensorimotor median nerve. In that area it would carry Jesus’ weight. If nailed through the hands the weigh would have caused the hands to rip open. Once both arms were secure, Jesus was lift up, with the balibulum secured in place. His legs were bent at the knee with a large nail driven through both ankles to the upright (vertical – stipes), securing the body. Additional excruciating pain came from further nerve damage. Now the victim is crucified. The methods used to secure the hands and feet to the cross did not rupture any major arteries so that death would be slower and suffering and agony longer. It is now that the real gruesome experience of the cross started. The arms were slightly bent with the arms higher than the head. The body weight was taken by these nails through the wrists. The victim needed to breathe, so he would push the body upwards to inhale, causing excruciating pain in the feet. This was repetitive … exhale, the body hanging onto the wrist nails … inhaling, the body pressing on the feet nail. The pain was horrific … repeated and repeated … then slowing down as the body slumped trying to grasp for oxygen, then the pain again and again. Remember Jesus’ lacerated back? This was rubbing up and down the vertical part (stripes). Flesh and meat and bone … too terrible to contemplate! The lack of oxygen to the blood caused terrible fatigue. The chaffing of the body’s up and down movements caused liquid to fill his chest cavity. (Drowning might have been the cause of death.) Muscles cramped and after several hours we read in John’s Gospel of Jesus’ final moments:
Jn 19:30 When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
We say in the Creed that Jesus … “suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, He died …” The intent of crucifixion was a slow, painful, agonizing, sadistical death. As said, the Roman Military perfected this terrible manner of murder. We will come to the “death and burial” tomorrow. My friends I apologize for the graphic details leading up to and of our Lord’s Crucifixion. Yet you need to know what He went through for you personally. To ignore these facts you will never grasp the value of your soul and the Lord’s extreme jealousy over your soul. As you reflect upon this for a moment, His death and the reason for it ought to spur us on towards godly living.
Father, grace and mercy are known words to us, but seldom understood. Thank You. Amen.