Friday, March 08, 2019

The Vision (3.8.19): The Scourging of Christ

Image: Romans weapons

Note: Devotion taken from sermon on John 19:1-12 on 2.24.19.

Then Pilate therefore took Jesus, and scourged him (John 19:1).

On the heels of the release of Barabbas (18:38-40), comes the scourging of Christ. The Lord Jesus takes upon him the stripes that Barabbas deserved. The verb for to scourge is mastigao. It can also mean to flog, whip, or beat.

J. C. Ryle observed: “The cruel injury inflicted on our Lord’s body, in this verse, was probably far more severe than an English reader might suppose. It was a punishment which among the Romans generally preceded crucifixion, and was sometimes so painful and violent that the sufferer died under it. It was a scourging with rods, not always with cords, as painters and sculptors represent.”

Another source, however, says that scourging was “a severe punishment using a whip that had bits of bone or metal imbedded at the tip” (Orthodox Study Bible).

In his book Crucifixion, the historian Martin Hengel describes flogging as “a stereotyped part of the punishment” of crucifixion, which “would make the blood flow in streams” (32). He notes that Christ’s loss of blood due to the scourging is what caused him to be so weakened so as not to be able to carry the cross and best explains “his relatively speedy death” when he was crucified (32).

J. C. Ryle continues: “As to Pilate’s reason for inflicting this punishment on our Lord, there seems little doubt. He secretly hoped that this tremendous scourging, in the Roman fashion, with satisfy the Jews; and that after seeing Jesus beaten, bleeding, and torn with rods, they would be content to let him go free.”

Scourging was a graphic and violent punishment, but note that it is relayed discreetly in Scripture. There is none of the gritty detail of Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ. These simple words are sufficient.

Here is the fulfilment of prophecy: Isaiah 53:5: “But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.”

Today we look with admiration at the one who stood in our place, suffered, bled and died for us.

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle


Lyndon said...

Thanks for the post. Encouraging and humbling. Blessings.

Jeffrey T. Riddle said...

Yes, every time I preach through the passion narratives I am struck again by how powerful they are and how powerful is that which they so reverently describe.