This blog is follow up of Part I on Jesus’ suffering before and during the crucifixion.
After Jesus’ arrest– when He was brought before Caiphus, the High Priest, a soldier struck Jesus in the face for remaining silent. The guards then blindfolded Him and mockingly taunted Him, insulted Him, spat on Him, and repeatedly beat Him (Luke 22:63).
Jesus stands trial before Pontius Pilate– in the early morning, Jesus, who is battered, bruised, dehydrated, and exhausted from a sleepless night, is taken across Jerusalem to see Pilate, and then Herod Antipas. Pilate tried to release Jesus after his scourging and flogging (Matthew 27:26, Mark 10:34), but the unruly crowd wouldn’t accept that. They wanted to crucify Jesus.
Pilate finally releases the prisoner Bar-Abbas and condemns Jesus to the death sentence crucifixion. Jesus predicted His own flogging and crucifixion in Matthew 16:21 and Matthew 20:17-19. What was flogging or scourging? Jesus was stripped of His clothes and
then the Roman legionnaire (a professional soldier) steps forward with the flagrum in his hand. This is a short whip consisting of several heavy, leather thongs with two small lead balls attached near the ends of each. The whip is brought down with full force again and again across Jesus’ shoulders, back and legs (probably at least 39 blows). The blows cut deeper and deeper into the subcutaneous tissues causing spurting of arterial bleeding from vessels in the underlying muscles. The skin of the back is hanging in long ribbons and the entire area is a mass of torn, unrecognizable, bleeding tissue.
Jesus is given a crown of thorns– as Jesus is slumped to the stone pavement, the Roman soldiers throw a robe across His shoulders and place a crown made of flexible, thorny branches, which is pressed into His scalp. This causes copious bleeding (Mark 15:17, John 19:2). After more verbal mocking and blows to the face, they drive the thorns deeper into His scalp.
Along the path of the Via Dolorosa (Latin for “Way of Grief”) – as Jesus walked on the street or 650 yard (6 and ½ football fields) path to Golgotha, the hill where He would be crucified, the weight of the patibulum was too much. A stalwart North African onlooker, Simon of Cyrene, was forced
to carry the heavy cross-piece behind Jesus. Once at Golgotha, Jesus is stripped of His clothes, except for a loin cloth which is allowed for Jews. He was simply exhausted and in severe pain.
Next blog, in Part III, we will explore the crucifixion itself, and the pain it brought to Jesus.