Summary: To better understand what Jesus endured for us....
Pathway To The Passion
Part 5- Scourging & Crucifixion
So far in this series we have looked at Jesus at the Last Supper, in the Garden at Gethsemane, Peters denial, and how his arrest and trials were illegal.
Though the Gospels give us a good picture of the events of the last day of Christ, they do not give great details as to the amount of suffering he endured shortly before and during the Crucifixion.
We are going to begin a walk down the same path Jesus walked. It was not a pleasant path but must be understood to better understand what God has done for us.
26 So Pilate released Barabbas to them. He ordered Jesus flogged with a lead-tipped whip, then turned him over to the Roman soldiers to crucify him.
There were 2 types of flogging or scourging in Jesus’ time. Jewish and Roman.
2 If the person in the wrong is sentenced to be flogged, the judge will command him to lie down and be beaten in his presence with the number of lashes appropriate to the crime. 3 No more than forty lashes may ever be given; more than forty lashes would publicly humiliate your neighbor.
Jews were afraid of breaking the law so typically they would give only 39 lashes and be very careful to count. The lash was a regular lash.
Roman scourging was very different.
There was no set amount of lashes to be given. It was not uncommon for people to die during this punishment. Victims were stripped naked, bent over a stump with hands and ankles shackled to the stump. If someone became unconscious during it, they were revived and the punishment continued. The Romans usually called their flogging “halfway death”
The instrument used was called a flagellum. It was about 18’ long with leather thongs at the end of it. In these thongs were pieces of glass, bone, and sharp metal. The purpose of the flagellum was to reduce the body to strips of raw flesh and massive bleeding wounds.
The purpose of the scourging was to inflict as much pain as possible.
Most Hollywood movies do not give an accurate depiction of this. The closest was probably Mel Gibson’s “The Passion”, but even as graphic as it was probably does not compare to the real thing.
Jesus was then led away to be crucified. He would have been paraded through the streets of Jerusalem out to Golgotha. Crucifixion was meant to be public. Most artist paintings depict Jesus carrying the entire cross through the streets of Jerusalem. Jesus physically would not have been able to carry the entire cross. No doubt he would have been severely weakened by the scourging and probably dehydration from blood loss. The upright beam itself would have been about eight feet long. It was probably taken in advance to the crucifixion site by Roman soldiers. Jesus would have carried the smaller cross-beam section.
32 As they were on the way, they came across a man named Simon, who was from Cyrene, and they forced him to carry Jesus’ cross. 33 Then they went out to a place called Golgotha (which means Skull Hill).
Just as Simon helped carry Jesus’ cross, we to are to carry a cross for Jesus. We are to spread the message of the Gospels.
In the modern world we have come to look at the cross as a thing of beauty. In artwork, jewelry, and as a symbol of what Jesus did for us. People in Jesus’ time had a totally different view of what the cross meant. To them the cross was a symbol of Roman oppression, of pain and suffering, and of death. I think they might be puzzled at our modern view of the cross.
Meaning of crucifixion
Death by crucifixion was meant as a slow, humiliating and agonizing way to die. Some records indicate people living for as long as 9 days.
Crucifixions were meant to serve as a warning to anyone who witnessed them
“This is what happens when you challenge Roman”
“This is what happens when you break the law”
This is what happens when you make trouble for us”
Much in the same way in the age of pirates that bodies were hung at the entrance of a towns harbor to serve as a warning.
Where did crucifixion come from?
Crucifixion was not invented by the Romans. It actually predates them by several hundred years.
Most likely developed by the Persians who thought nothing should contaminate the ground from a criminal. Crucifixion was developed so they could be executed without ever having to touch the ground.
The method was passed from the Persians, to the Egyptians, and eventually to the Romans.
Method of crucifixion