I’ve written about it before, we’ve all read it plenty of times: in the Bible, in an article, in Sunday School, in a story–we know it’s there and it’s true. But what is it that makes us doubt it sometimes? Even when we know and believe it, do we really know how much God loves us?
The other day I watched The Case for Christ, (you can also read the book) a story that tells the journey about an atheist who sets out to prove the myth of Jesus. I really liked the movie, yet while this man tried his hardest to prove that Jesus never rose after he died, I realized something else. This man dug deep into the death of Jesus, he turned over every stone, he searched everything he could think of to prove Jesus never rose and therefore, doesn’t exist. While I was watching all this evidence unfold of something I already knew and believed, I really begun to realize what Jesus did for us.
All four, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John write of Jesus’ suffering. Luke starts Jesus’ story in Luke 22:39 when he writes of Jesus’s prayer on the Mount of Olives. Jesus prayed earnestly for God’s will to be done. Yet at the reality of the future, His sweat fell like drops of blood. Roman soldiers led Jesus into the palace and called together all the soldiers. They put a purple robe on Him, then twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on His head. They mocked Him, saying, “Hail, king of Jews.” Then they struck His head with a staff repeatedly, spitting on Him (Mark 15:16). Now let’s remember that Jesus lived and breathed like you and I. He is the Son of God, yet was made with flesh and bones. He felt hurt when people mocked Him, like you and I do. When those thorns jabbed into His flesh, He bled red, like you and I.
In Luke 23:15 Pilate says he sees no fault in Jesus, therefore he will punish Him and release Him. John writes in chapter 19 verse 1, that Pilate took Jesus and had Him flogged. Flogging is most likely the punishment Pilate was talking about. In fact, Matthew states that he did have Jesus scourged. (Matt. 27:26) In Jesus’ time it was lawful to flog Roman slaves or non-Romans forty times, less one (2 Cor. 11:24) as punishment. Not like a bull whip, the whip the Roman soldiers used had three thongs measuring 11″ to 13″ long, with two lead balls at the end. The flagrum, also known as the scourging whip, had multiple designs. As far as I’ve searched I can’t figure out which one they used to scourge Jesus. I do however know that most scourging whips were designed so every time the thongs hit the man’s back the heavy iron would claw into the man’s flesh from his shoulders to his hip. These lashes tore not only flesh, but also the veins. After this was done 39 times we can imagine the results. Scourging happened in public, with the man’s hands tied around a pole, to cause not only pain, but embarrassment also. Can you imagine the terrible experienced Jesus went through?
After this, when Pilate released Barabbas and gave the responsibility of Jesus to the soldiers, they made Jesus carry His own cross to Golgotha, which means the place of the skull (Mark 15:22). Weakened from the beatings He’d received, Jesus was unable to carry His cross any further. Simon, a bystander carried it for Him. Now we’ve all seen pictures somewhere, and we all know that in order for a man to die on a standing cross, He had to be nailed on to it. Medically it’s impossible that nails driven through His palms could have held Him. The weight of His body would have ripped his hands, therefore He was nailed onto the cross through His wrist. His feet had to be place outward so that the third nail could go through both feet. (https://www.allaboutjesuschrist.org/jesus-nails-faq.htm) These nails that held up a full grown man had to be long and thick. To first pierce through a man’s wrist, then into the wooden cross yet, approximately 7-9 inches long. When the cross was lifted from the ground and Jesus hung on the cross, His body had to sag. We know that for a human body to stay straight while hanging on his hands is nearly impossible. In order to breath He had to pull himself up to relax His lungs and let air out. Breathing in would occur when He let himself down. So in order to continue breathing, He had to pull himself up and down every time He had to breath. (http://causeofjesusdeath.com/asphyxiation)/
Even when these men who hated Jesus and had no mercy on any man, Jesus prayed to His Father, asking Him to forgive these men (Luke 23:34). When Jesus was near death He called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” John writes in chapter 19 that when Jesus knew all was finished He asked for something to drink, then He said, “It is finished.” After that he goes on to write, ‘with that, He bowed and gave up His spirit’. In John 19:34 it states that men pierced Jesus’ side instead of breaking His legs, when blood and water gushed out. Others have stated that Jesus’ side was stabbed while He lived, yet John states otherwise. The mystery remains unknown to me.
Now the question is, why? Why would a living man give himself to die on a cross. To face crucifixion, when He was guilty of nothing. For Jesus was a man without sin. Why would He go through such a horrifying death with no protest against it? For you and I. What caused Him to do so? Love. Jesus says in John 15:13, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” He says we are no longer His servants, but His friends. We love our friends and we are only humans, Jesus is a King, the Son of God and He calls us His friends. If we as normal humans love our friends, think of the love that Jesus would feel. Of course as we know and just read, He died for us. Not in a car crash, not in His warm bed, but on a cross. First mocked, then jabbed with thorns, then scourged, then nails hammered through His flesh into a cross. Where He struggled to breath, until His body gave up and He breathed His last.
Take a moment and just think, think of the pain, the sadness–think, of the love that He had to have to do that. That’s not an ordinary love, that’s the love of a Father for His Children. This love is so incredible, so remarkable that it can get us through anything. It’s so amazing that it automatically fills our soul and body–if we let it. This love is so phenomenal; what on earth would cause us to keep it to ourselves? Why would we keep something so unique, so AWESOME to ourselves. Jesus showed and gave His love there on the cross, take advantage of it and live by it. Share it!
To be Continued . . .