Every Good Friday, I tend to watch the very controversial, Passion of the Christ. Every time, my heart races, I flinch and I close my eyes to every bashing, every flagellation.. Whether you are a Christian or not, a believer or not, if you see this movie, the heart wonders “Was there ever suffering and sorrow like that endured by Jesus Christ?”
So today, on Good Friday, I will not talk about details if whether or not it was really a Friday that He died, or whether this was true or not, or trying to convince anyone about faith. I just want to talk about the many horrifying things one had to go through, for love, for faith and for obedience. Most of us may forget or may be so lax about this but being a history-lover that I am, I always want to re-live that part of history and wonder what it must have been.
Historians, medical experts and archaeologists have tried to examine in detail the execution of Jesus, one that he VOLUNTARILY endured. Again, if you look at the Passion of Christ, you must agree that he suffered one of the most painful and most inhuman forms of capital punishments ever devised by humankind. So here is a summary of his suffering and death (www.christiananswers.net)
1. Even before the abuse, Jesus experienced SEVERE stress.
Even before the crucifixion, he had manifested symptoms associated with severe stress. The disciples reported seeing Jesus in “agony” on the Mt. of Olives. He didn’t sleep at night and he was sweating a lot, to the point that tiny blood vessels ruptured in his sweat glands, which was then seen as bloody sweat dropping to the ground.
Medical practitioners have termed this very rare condition as “hematohidrosis” where under the pressure of stress so great, blood vessels will constrict. When the anxiety passes, the vessels dilate to a point of rupture and the blood goes into the sweat glands, and when one sweats, it comes out as droplets of blood mixed with sweat.
What could Jesus be stressed about, you ask? Being God’s Son, He would have known what would befall Him. Although He was God, his body was human so whatever suffering He would go through, He would feel it as intensely as any human would. And of course, who would not be stressed with the knowledge that you would bear the terrible trauma of taking guilt for all our sins—mine and yours. As powerful as He was, He could have avoided all this, said no, ask a bunch of angels to protect Him or made His skin not feel the pain. But He willingly chose to be genuinely “wounded for our transgressions” and “bruised for iniquities” so that he could truly pay for our sins and suffer human death.
2. Scourging at the Pillar
Jesus was beaten by the Jews and if that wasn’t enough, He was also beaten by the Roman Soldiers. It was a bloody beating, not just your usual disciplinary hazing. It left lacerations all over Christ’s body. The whips of the Romans were designed to CUT the flesh from the victims’ bodies. You can just imagine the extreme pain with every blow.
The Roman legionnaire steps forward with the flagrum (or flagellum) in his hand. This is a short whip consisting of several heavy, leather thongs with two small balls of lead attached near the ends of each. The heavy whip is brought down with full force again and again across Jesus' shoulders, back, and legs. At first the thongs cut through the skin only. Then, as the blows continue, they cut deeper into the subcutaneous tissues, producing first an oozing of blood from the capillaries and veins of the skin, and finally spurting arterial bleeding from vessels in the underlying muscles.
The small balls of lead first produce large, deep bruises which are broken open by subsequent blows. Finally the skin of the back is hanging in long ribbons and the entire area is an unrecognizable mass of torn, bleeding tissue. When it is determined by the centurion in charge that the prisoner is near death, the beating is finally stopped. (www.konnections.com)
3. Crowning with Thorns
The half-fainting Jesus is then untied and allowed to slump to the stone pavement, wet with His own blood. The Roman soldiers see a great joke in this provincial Jew claiming to be king. They throw a robe across His shoulders and place a stick in His hand for a scepter. They still need a crown to make their travesty complete. Flexible branches covered with long thorns (commonly used in bundles for firewood) are plaited into the shape of a crown and this is pressed into His scalp. Again there is copious bleeding, the scalp being one of the most vascular areas of the body.
After mocking Him and striking Him across the face, the soldiers take the stick from His hand and strike Him across the head, driving the thorns deeper into His scalp. Finally, they tire of their sadistic sport and the robe is torn from His back. Already having adhered to the clots of blood and serum in the wounds, its removal causes excruciating pain just as in the careless removal of a surgical bandage, and almost as though He were again being whipped the wounds once more begin to bleed. (www.konnections.com)
4. Carrying of the Cross
In deference to Jewish custom, the Romans return His garments. The heavy patibulum of the cross is tied across His shoulders, and the procession of the condemned Christ, two thieves, and the execution detail of Roman soldiers headed by a centurion begins its slow journey along the Via Dolorosa. In spite of His efforts to walk erect, the weight of the heavy wooden beam, together with the shock produced by copious blood loss, is too much. He stumbles and falls. The rough wood of the beam gouges into the lacerated skin and muscles of the shoulders. He tries to rise, but human muscles have been pushed beyond their endurance.
SOME HARD CORE FACTS OF THE CRUCIFIXION (click page 2) (Warning: Not for the faint-hearted… please don’t click if you don’t want to know)