For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. – Romans 5:6-8 NKJV
Christianity has a way of becoming routine sometimes. Wake up, pray, devotional, prayer meeting, Bible study, tweet about Jesus, go to church, read some of the Bible, repeat. Life happens, we have other things going on and we stop pondering what really happened on that old rugged cross.
But when we consider what Jesus went through, should the cross ever lose it’s meaning to us?
A friend recently shared “The Physical Death of Jesus,” which is a study by the Mayo Clinic about the physical strain on the body produced by Jesus’ death on the cross from a medical perspective. It included pictures, descriptions and explanations about what each aspect of crucifixion entailed for Jesus. When I read it, I felt sick to my stomach because I began to consider what my Savior went through.
“The Romans perfected it [crucifixion] as a method of execution which caused maximal pain and suffering over a period of time. Those crucified included slaves, provincials and the lowest types of criminals. – J. McDowell
A perfect human being was given the death of the lowest type of criminal. This makes me think, “what kind of death would I have earned if I lived in Bible times?” Before they put him on the cross, they beat him with the intention to weaken him and humiliate him.
The severity of the beating is not detailed in the gospels. However, in the book of Isaiah, it suggests that the Romans pulled out His beard.(Isaiah 50:8) . It is also mentions that Jesus was beaten so severely that His form did not look like that of ‘a son of a man’ i.e. that of a human being. The literal translation of the verse reads, ‘So marred from the form of man was His aspect, that His appearance was not as that of a son of a man.‘ – Mayo Clinic
This past school year, I taught my students about Emmett Till. They were shocked to learn that the 14-year old was beaten so severely that his face was disfigured by a racist mob in the Jim Crow South. I’ve talked about this before, but I never realized that Jesus underwent a beating like that before being placed on the cross. Experts say that Jesus was likely flogged with a weapon called a Roman flagrum that tore his skin like paper. One historical account says,
“Their bodies were frightfully lacerated. Christian martyrs in Smyrna were so torn by the scourges that their veins were laid bare, and the inner muscles, sinews, even entrails, were exposed.” -Eusabious of Caesare, Westminster Dictionary of the Bible
According to the experts, after the beating the Roman soldiers tried to make Jesus walk around 650 yards (1/3rd of a mile) with a cross that weighed between 80-110 pounds. But, the cross was too heavy for him to bear so Simon carried it for him. Next, they placed a crown of thorns on his head, nailed his hands and feet to the cross and mocked him. Look at these pictures…
When the cross was erected upright, there was tremendous strain put on the wrists, arms and shoulders, resulting in a dislocation of the shoulder and elbow joints. The arms, being held up and outward, held the rib cage in a fixed end inspiratory position which made it extremely difficult to exhale, and impossible to take a full breath. The victim would only be able to take very shallow breaths.(This may explain why Jesus made very short statements while on the cross). As time passed, the muscles, from the loss of blood, last of oxygen and the fixed position of the body, would undergo severe cramps and spasmodic contractions. – Dr. David Terasaka
After He said “it is finished,” He committed His spirit back to His father & died.
If this doesn’t blow you away, I don’t know what will. Death is one of the most real things in this life. It means that our living has ended. The fact that Jesus was willing to die a slow, painful death for you and me should always blow our minds and fill our hearts with gratitude.
I sin so easily. I do and say things, think wrong thoughts, willingly pass up opportunities to do what I know is right, but why? Have I forgotten what He went through to give me another opportunity? Like Romans 5 says, it’s rare that someone will die for a righteous man and someone might even die for someone who is good, but I am a sinner. I was born in sin, shaped in iniquity and sometimes, I even sin without thinking. Jesus was willing to take every ounce of this excruciating pain so that I wouldn’t have to. The strain on his lungs, on his bones and ligaments, the pain in his feet. The way that His body was torn, broken, beaten. To think that Jesus Christ, the son in the Godhead would leave Heaven to die the death of the worst of sinners to redeem me blows me away completely.
When I reflect on this, I want to thank Him continually.
Thank you for taking the beating that broke your flesh and caused your blood to be shed.
Thank you for every nail that pierced your veins and caused you to cry out in pain.
Thank you for staying on the cross and not giving up, even when it hurt the worst.
Thank you for taking the mocking and the humiliation from the religious people who should have celebrated your life.
Thank you for leaving Heaven, being perfect, setting an example and being selfless enough to die for me.
No one else in this life loves me enough to go through what He went through for me, and I refuse to take it lightly.
But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed. – Isaiah 53:5 NKJV