Briefing: I have seen my share of brutality and horrible violence in my twenty-two years as a police officer. With all that I have seen and been witness to, I have never seen anything that comes close to what Jesus had to endure.
Dispatch (Assignment): Read Matthew 27:27-31 and watch the movie, the Passion (if possible).
On the Street: What Jesus is about to endure in this passage is called scourging. It was a cruel punishment that usually preceded crucifixion. This task was carried out by one to six Roman officers called lictors. They were specially trained in the area of knowing how to beat someone to the point of death without actually killing them, thereby getting the most suffering possible from the victim. They were also trained with the whips. They knew where to strike the body for the maximum pain effect and destruction to the body. These whips were called flagellum. They were short whips with knots tied in the ends of each thong. Bone, metal and glass fragments would be inserted into the knots.
When a person was scourged, their clothes were stripped off and they would be tied to a post. The soldiers would repeatedly strike the victim’s back, buttocks and legs with their full force causing deep contusions. Lacerations from repeated blows cut into the underlying muscles and ripped the overlaying skin of the back to the point where it hangs off like ribbons of bleeding flesh. Veins were often torn open causing intense bleeding. If the victim fell unconscious, the lictor would check for a pulse to see if they were still alive. If they were alive, the beatings would continue unless the centurion in charge thought the victim was near death. The Roman soldiers gave this practice the name “half death”. The extent of blood loss may have determined how long the victim would have survived on the cross.
Another devastating injury we don’t hear much about is when the soldiers, “took off the robe”. This sounds innocent enough until you realize Jesus was bleeding profusely under the scarlet robe. The robe would have been sticking to the open wounds and pulling it off would have re-opened the wounds and been very painful.
Highlights from this Read: This occurred from about 8:30 – 9:30 in the morning. Scarlet was the color of robe that the Roman soldiers wore. This color was used in Isaiah 1:8 to describe our sins. Another very symbolic item used was the crown of thorns. In Genesis 3:17-18, God curses the ground with thorns as a result of Adam’s sin (because he listened to Eve and ate from the tree). Also, when the Roman soldiers mocked Him and went out of their way to be cruel to Jesus, it is a fulfillment of Isaiah 53:3.
Investigational Resources: For more on this study, read Mark 15:16-20. Deuteronomy 25:3 states that a man must not be given more than forty lashes. Therefore, Jesus received thirty-nine lashes.
Officer Safety Principle: It is important to see what kind of torture Jesus went through for us. Would you have endured this punishment? Maybe for a loved one but Jesus endured it for all, even His enemies.
from The Gospel of Matthew Through the Eyes of a Cop
©by Charles Gilliland. Used by permission.
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