Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Understanding the suffering of Jesus Christ

2 Corinthians 11:24 From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. (NKJ)
 On five occasions Paul was beaten by Jews with 39 stripes, and although it was harsh, it was survivable. The Jewish leadership set out to Kill Jesus!
 Isaiah 52:14 Just as many were astonished at you, so His visage was marred more than any man, and His form more than the sons of men; (NKJ)

Do you have any idea what’s this means?
The fact is that Jesus was beaten beyond all reason.  He was beaten beyond recognition.

Isaiah 53:6b and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. (NKJ)

The LORD laid on Him the iniquity of us ALL!

1 Peter 2:24 [Christ Jesus] who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness-- by whose stripes you were healed. (NKJ)

What was it like for a prisoner to be scourged in New Testament times?
From what materials was a scourge made?
How did it feel when the straps of a scourge whipped across a person’s back and body?
What effects did a scourging have on the human body

Scourging ….


Scourging, called verberatio by the Romans was possibly the worst kind of flogging administered by ancient courts. The offeders shivered when heard this word because of the terrible images   came to mind. Let me tell you a little about the process of scourging and what it did to the human body. I believe this explanation is important so you can understand more completely what Jesus endured before He was crucified.
The Jews whippings for the offenders in the synagogues for certain offenses were mild in comparison to scourging by Romans. Scourging was not normally a form of execution, but it certainly was brutal enough to be fatal in many cases. A person certainly could be beaten to death by the scourge if that was desired. Its purpose was not only to cause great pain, but to humiliate as well. To scourge a man was to beat him worse than one would beat a stupid animal. It was denigration, debasing, and demeaning. According to the Porcian (248 B.C.) and Sempronian (123 B.C.) laws, it was considered such a degrading form of punishment and Roman citizens were exempt from it. It was, therefore, the punishment appropriate only for non-Romans,   slaves and for those who were viewed as the lesser elements in Roman society. Scourging was carried out in public to make it as humiliating as possible.
Romans were experts at scourging; they took special amusement in the fact that they were the “best” at punishing a victim with this brutal act. The victim was first stripped completely naked and would be open to the beating action of the torturer’s whip. Then the victim was bound to a two-foot- high scourging post. His hands were tied over his head to a metal ring, and his wrists were securely shackled to the metal ring to restrain his body from movement. When in this locked position, the victim couldn’t waggle or move, trying to avoid or move away the lashes that were being laid across his back. Once the victim was harnessed to the post and stretched over it, the Roman soldier began to put him through unimaginable torture.
One historian notes that the mere expectancy of the first blow caused the victim’s body to grow inflexible, the muscles to knot in his stomach, the color to drain from his cheeks, and his lips to draw tight against his teeth as he waited for the first sadistic blow that would begin the tearing open of his body.

 The Roman Scourge

Roman scourge

The scourge itself consisted of a short, wooden handle with several 18- to 24-inch- leather (ox-hide) thongs or ropes connected to a handle as in the sketch above. The leather thongs were knotted with a number of small pieces of metal, usually zinc and iron, attached at various intervals. Sometimes the Roman scourge contained a hook at the end and was given the terrifying name "scorpion." The criminal was made to stoop which would make deeper lashes from the shoulders to the waist. This was considered to be one of the most feared and deadly weapons of the Roman world. It was so ghastly that the mere threat of scourging could calm a crowd or bend the will of the strongest rebel. Not even the most hardened criminal wanted to be submitted to the vicious beating of a Roman scourge.
Most often, two torturers were employed to perform this penalty, simultaneously lashing the victim from both sides. As these dual whips struck the victim, the leather straps with their pointy, sharp, cutting objects descended and extended over his entire back. Each piece of metal, wire, bone, or glass cut deeply through the victim’s skin and into his flesh, shredding his muscles and sinews. Every time the whip pounded across the victim, those straps of leather curled tortuously around his torso, biting agonizingly and deeply into the skin of his abdomen and upper chest. As each stroke lacerated the sufferer, he tried to thrash about but was unable to move because his wrists were held so firmly to the metal ring above his head. Helpless to escape the whip, he would scream for mercy that this anguish might come to an end. The victim’s back, buttocks, back of the legs, stomach, upper chest, and face would soon be disfigured by the slashing blows of the whip.
Historical records describe a victim’s back as being so mutilated after a Roman scourging that his spine would actually be exposed. Others recorded how the bowels of a victim would actually run over through the open wounds created by the whip. The Early Church historian Eusebius wrote: “The veins were laid bare, and the very muscles, sinews, and bowels of the victim were open to exposure.”
The Roman torturer would so aggressively strike his victim that he wouldn’t even take the time to untangle the bloody, flesh-filled straps as he lashed the whip across the victim’s mangled body over and over again. If the scourging wasn’t stopped, the slicing of the whip would eventually flay the victim’s flesh off his body.
With so many blood vessels sliced open by the whip, the victim would begin to experience a profuse loss of blood and bodily fluids. The heart would pump harder and harder, struggling to get blood to the parts of the body that were profusely bleeding. But it was like pumping water through an open water hydrant; there was nothing left to stop the blood from pouring through the victim’s open wounds.
This loss of blood caused the victim’s blood pressure to drop drastically. Because of the massive loss of bodily fluids, he would experience excruciating thirst, often fainting from the pain and eventually going into shock. Frequently the victim’s heartbeat would become so irregular that he would go into cardiac arrest.
This was a Roman scourging.

(To be continued............... )

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