Summary: Part 2 in series on the Resurrection - Christ’s pain and death. Based on Hank Hanegraaf’s FEAT acronym.
Isaiah 53:1-12 – The Fatal Torment
In April 1996, the entertainment world suffered a loss. Larry LaPrise, the Detroit native who wrote the song "The Hokey Pokey", died at age 83. That’s right, somebody actually wrote the song. He led a full, quiet and happy life, and he died peacefully in Boise, Idaho. Still it was a difficult time for the family and it was especially difficult for to get him in the casket. They put his left leg in and... well, that was when the trouble started.
We joke about it, but death is truly no laughing matter. Today, I want to look at the suffering and the death of Jesus Christ. Last week, I began a series on why we can believe the Resurrection really happened. I spoke of the importance of the Resurrection of Jesus. And I mentioned that some people, even though they believe that Jesus really existed, some believe that He really didn’t die on the cross. They believe what is called the Swoon Theory – that is, Jesus didn’t really die on the cross, but only swooned or fainted. Then, He was revived in the cool of the tomb, so that when He came up from the grave on Sunday, He was not resurrected but only resuscitated.
Today I continue on why we can believe in the Resurrection, using the word FEAT. The letter F stands for Jesus’ Fatal Torment – He really did die. I want to show you that the Swoon Theory is a flimsy theory. I want to walk you through the last stages of Jesus’ life for 2 reasons: 1) so that you can see more clearly what He went through for you and for your forgiveness – after all, Paul said he wanted to know Christ and the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings. And, 2) so that you can believe more strongly in what the Bible says, and not in what popular skeptics say. Let’s read words written 800 years before Christ was even born, from the prophet Isaiah, chapter 53. Isaiah 53:1-12.
Let’s walk through Jesus’ final hours on earth. Thursday night, the night before Passover, the night families would eat the Passover meal together before the ritual sacrifice the next day. This night would find Jesus and His disciples gathered for what we call the Last Supper. Judas left and arranged with the chief priests to be the formal witness in laying charges against Jesus. Jesus shared some teachings with His followers, and then led his closest friends to the Garden of Gethsemane. There He prayed that He would not have to go through what He was about to go through. However, He submitted His plans to God the Father – “Not what I want, but what You want.”
And as He prayed He experienced what is called hematidrosis – literally, sweating with blood. It’s a rare biological occurrence that happens under extreme pressure - because of hemorrhaging into the sweat glands, the skin becomes fragile and tender. This set the stage for what would happen within hours.
So, Judas came with the priests and Roman soldiers, and Jesus was arrested. During the next few hours, all during the night, Jesus went through legal trials. Illegal, rather. False witnesses, trumped up charges, and so on. There were 3 Jewish trials, and 3 Roman trials. The very last trial, before Pilate, was the beginning of the end.
Bowing to the whims of the crowd, Pilate condemned Jesus to death. Torture for Jesus was fairly elaborate. Pilate thought he could appear as a good leader before the influential people, so he went above and beyond torture for a regular prisoner. The soldiers made a crown of thorns, in mockery of his claims to be a king, and then struck Jesus in the head with a scepter, a short staff.
And the Bible says Jesus was flogged. This is a simple word to describe the punishment, of a multi-tipped whip, studded with small balls and fragments of glass and bone, lashed repeatedly across the back, often just up to the point of death. This caused massive blood loss and inflicted horrible pain. It reduced the skin on the back to ribbons. Once again to mock his claims of kingship, the soldiers put an old faded robe on Jesus, over the fresh wounds. Enough time passed that just before they led Him to the cross, they ripped the robe off Him, ripping off the freshly matted blood, opening all the wounds again. By this time Jesus has lost a lot of blood, and it’s not over yet.
Crucifixion was certainly a well-refined experiment in torture. Above all, it was a slow smothering, designed to be as painful along the way as possible. (DESCRIBE) When the body became too tired to lift up, when too much blood had been lost, when too much dehydration had happened, the victim died. And death became a welcome relief.