Friday, April 22, 2011

The Darling of Heaven Crucified

"His appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any man and His form marred beyond human likeness."  (Isaiah 52:14)

Isaiah's prophesy concerning Jesus is chilling.  I cannot imagine anyone being beaten so badly that he wouldn't even look human, but that's what happened to Jesus. 

Jesus suffered many indignaties from the time of His arrest until He drew His last breath on the cross.  After His trials, He was spit upon by the Roman guards.  To be spit upon is degrading.  A person feels violated and dirty.  I know because I had a street person spit on me a few years ago while I was walking back to my office.  I felt demeaned by this stranger who singled me out as the victim of a disgusting and hurtful act. 

Jesus was mocked and taunted about His diety.  He knew who He was, but He also knew He couldn't persuade those who tormented Him that He was the Messiah, the very Son of God.

Jesus was scourged by the Romans, who had perfected this torturous act.  They carried out the punishment using a whip with leather strips, which had bones and other sharp objects sewn to it with one purpose - to rip flesh and muscle from the victim's body.  As the barbs and hooks pounded the body, they dug deep within the flesh and when the lictor drew the whip back, the flesh was ripped in chunks from the victim's back.  There was massive blood loss during a scourging.  Bare, torn muscles would quiver uncontrollably from the trauma.  The Roman lictor stopped just before death, and many people went into shock from the trauma and blood loss.

After being scourged, Jesus was beaten about the head with a wooden stick until He was unrecognizable.  Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ probably comes the closest to depicting the scourging, but even it could not capture what Jesus endured.  We could still recognize the Christ in his movie as human.  Jesus, we would not have known.

After all this, Jesus was made to carry His own cross.  Most scholars will say He carried only a portion of the cross, but the portion He carried probably weighed 75 pounds.  And because He was strapped to it, the weight and the roughness would most certainly have further damaged His already hideous back.  He would have bled the entire route, growing weaker and weaker with each step.  "Oh to see the dawn of the darkest day, Christ on the road to Calvary."

At Golgotha, the Roman guards would have thrown Him to the ground.  Dirt and small stones would have been embedded in His back causing even more pain.  Next, He would endure the excruciating pain of having His hands and feet nailed to the cross.  The nails through His hands would have damaged nerves, which would have sent unbearable, fiery waves of pain searing up His arms. 

Finally, Jesus would have been raised up, suspended by His hands and feet.  If He moved to try to breathe, He would have aggravated the damaged nerves in His hands causing more horrific pain.  In crucifixion the body is in a position so the person cannot exhale.  And the very act of trying to breathe would be exhausting for a person who had just been nailed to the cross.  Imagine the agony if you had been scourged and beaten before the cross.  "Oh to see the pain written on Your face bearing the awesome weight of sin."

But, Jesus didn't just suffer physically.  He suffered mentally and spiritually, which for Him was more terrible than the physical suffering.  In His final moments on this earth as mortal man, Jesus had to endure the loss of His Father's presence.  In His final moments, God had left Him, and He faced death alone and condemned.  "Shameful sin, placed on Him.  The Hope of every man."

In the end, unable to exhale and too tired to inhale Jesus asphyxiated.  "Savior, Son, Holy One, slain so I can live.  See the Lamb, the Great I Am, who takes away my sin." 

Jesus, the darling of heaven, crucified. 

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