| Apr 3, 2022
April 3, 2022
40 Days of Prayer content is intended for Monday through Saturday each week. Devotions are available on Sundays to prepare for the week ahead.
I’ve never been one for horror or gory movies. I typically watch through the crevices of my fingers as they try, but fail, to protect my vision. Sometimes I spread my fingers wider so I accidentally on purpose see what’s happening. Then I pay a steep price for doing that. The glimpses I catch of these scenes and images stay with me and haunt me at the worst times, like when I’m sleeping or alone during a thunder storm. That’s why I mainly stay with other genres when it comes to movies— what we used to call chick flicks, and dramadies (drama comedies), think The Proposal or The Notebook.
There is a clear exception to this movie rule, The Passion of the Christ. I forced myself to watch every second of Jesus’ journey to the cross. We tend to gloss over a lot of what exactly happened to Jesus after he was betrayed by Judas, one of his best friends.
“That is when one of the Twelve, the one named Judas Iscariot, went to the cabal of high priests and said, “What will you give me if I hand him over to you?” They settled on thirty silver pieces. He began looking for just the right moment to hand him over” (Matthew 26:14-16 MSG).
Maybe part of the reason we minimize the torture Jesus experienced is because we are given such a brief description in the gospels.
“… but after having Jesus scourged, he handed him over to be crucified” (Matthew 27:26)
“Then Pilate had Jesus flogged with a lead-tipped whip. The soldiers wove a crown of thorns and put it on his head, and they put a purple robe on him. ‘Hail! King of the Jews!’ they mocked, as they slapped him across the face” (John 19:1-3).
“He ordered Jesus flogged with a lead-tipped whip, then turned him over to the Roman soldiers to be crucified” (Mark 15:15).
We shouldn’t assign a lesser agony because of the brevity of its recounting. When we look further into history and what Jesus’ own death clothes revealed, we begin to know the whole story. When researching further into what Jesus would have endured, all the resources agreed that it would have been so much more than we can grasp from the few biblical words we read.
“Romans carried out many corporal punishments including flagellation, which were part of criminal law and used in domestic, military, and public domains. Sources attest to different types of beating instruments, including the lorum (whip), habena (strap), scutica (lash), stimulus (goad), fustis (staff), virga (rod), catenae (chains) and, finally, the flagrum and flagellum (scourge). Milder punishments also existed such as the ferula (stick) that schoolteachers used …
Some punishments were inflicted on the naked body and were more painful and humiliating than others. In one of his Satires, Horace called for “a rule to assign fair penalties to offenses, lest you flay with the terrible scourge (horribili flagello) those who are only deserving of the lash (scutica),” precisely because the scourge caused deeper wounds and could even lacerate the flesh …
Because of its brutality flagellation was feared: it produced deep wounds and could even lead to death. Unlike Jewish law, which had a maximum of forty lashes, Roman law did not provide for limits.” (from https://www.asor.org/anetoday/2018/12/What-Do-We-Know-About-Scourging-Jesus)
We must not minimize what Jesus endured. We can’t make it easier than it was. We need to know and understand what he experienced, so we can know and understand his love and passion, his sacrifice for us. Don’t look away this Holy Week. Look deep into the steps Jesus took. Walk with him. Spend the same amount of time examining the journey as it took Jesus to make it. Encounter Jesus not only at the foot of the cross, but on the way to it.
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