Good Friday, April 10, 2020.
Some years ago, a friend startled me with an out-of-context outburst. Though raised a Christian, Stephanie is a goddess cultist, wiccan witch, and rabidly anti-Christian because of its alleged anti-female misogyny, never mind my pointing out that none other than a woman — Mary, the mother of Jesus — is Christianity’s most revered human figure.
I still remember that day when we were sipping a drink in a shopping mall. Suddenly, in a fit of self-pity, my strong-as-an ox-friend blurted to me: “Don’t tell me how Jesus had suffered. I’ve suffered more than Jesus!”
This post on our Lord’s passion and sacrificial love is a reminder to us of His sacrificial love, and a rebuttal to my friend, the “artist” Michael D’Antuono who in 2009 painted a blasphemous portrait of Obama as the crucified Christ, and all malignant narcissists who cheapen His memory by having the boundless arrogance and gall to compare themselves to Him.
The account below is difficult for us to read.
You will weep, if you have a heart.
Imagine how many hundred times difficult it was for our Lord, who endured all of it.
He sweated blood.
After He and his disciples had observed the Passover meal in an upper room in a home in southwest Jerusalem, they traveled to the Mount of Olives, northeast of the city.
There, in the garden of Gethsemane, for 12 hours (from 9 PM Thursday to 9 AM Friday), He prayed. He saw all the sins of humanity — past, present, and future. The cumulative effect of what He saw was so horrific that He sweated blood — hematidrosis, or hemorrhage into the sweat glands. His skin became fragile and tender from the hematidrosis, and He felt chilled in the night air.
Then the Roman soldiers came to arrest Him and took Him away — He who had committed no crime and no wrong, but instead had fed the hungry, healed the sick and blind, and even raised the dead.
He was scourged at least 39 times.
Scourging or flogging was a legal preliminary to every Roman execution. The usual instrument was a short whip (flagellum) with several single or braided leather thongs of variable lengths, in which small iron balls or sharp pieces of sheep bones were tied at intervals. Occasionally, staves also were used.
He was stripped of his clothing, His hands tied to an upright post. His back, buttocks, and legs were flogged either by two soldiers or by one who alternated positions. The scourging was intended to weaken Him to a state just short of collapse or death.
As the Roman soldiers repeatedly struck His back with full force, the iron balls caused deep contusions, and the leather thongs and sheep bones cut into His skin and subcutaneous tissues.Then, as the flogging continued, the lacerations tore into His underlying skeletal muscles and produced quivering ribbons of bleeding flesh. Pain and blood loss set the stage for circulatory shock.
His scalp was pierced with thorns.
The Roman soldiers, amused that this weakened man had been acclaimed a king just days ago when He entered Jerusalem on a donkey, mocked Him by placing a robe on his shoulders, a crown of thorns on His head, and a wooden staff as a scepter in His right hand. Next, they spat on Him and struck Him on the head with the wooden staff.
The crown of thorns was not a crown at all. It was probably a bush roughly applied, and tied on with rope.
The thorns probably came from the Lote Tree, a wild bush that still grows freely all over the Holy Land. This bush had thorns between one to two inches long. There are over 70 scalp wounds visible on the man whose image is seared forever into the Shroud of Turin.
The soldiers’ beating with the rods to His head covered with this crown would have caused severe bleeding. It is probable that the clump of thorns was removed before His tunic was put back onto His body, and then reapplied during the Crucifixion. The blood trickling down from the newly opened head wounds suggest that the thorns were reapplied before the Crucifixion.
Imagine the pain you’d feel if just one thorn, measuring 1 to 2 inches long, were stuck into your scalp . . . .
He carried his own cross, weighing 125 lb.
The severe scourging, with its intense pain and appreciable blood loss, most probably left Him in a pre-shock state. Moreover, hematidrosis had rendered his skin particularly tender. The physical and mental abuse, as well as the lack of food, water, and sleep, also contributed to His generally weakened state.
Therefore, even before the actual crucifixion, His physical condition was at least serious and probably critical.
It was customary for the condemned man to carry his own cross from the flogging post to the site of crucifixion outside the city walls.
Since the weight of the entire cross was probably well over 300 lb., “only” the crossbar or patibulum — weighing 75 to 125 lb. — was carried. The patibulum was placed across the nape of His neck and balanced along both shoulders, His outstretched arms tied to the crossbar. The processional to the site of crucifixion was led by a complete Roman military guard, headed by a centurion.
He was nailed to a cross to die.
The Romans did not invent crucifixions, but they perfected it as a form of torture and capital punishment designed to produce a slow death with maximum pain and suffering. It was one of the most disgraceful and cruelest methods of execution and usually was reserved only for slaves, foreigners, revolutionaries, and the vilest of criminals.
At the site of execution, by law, He was given a bitter drink of wine mixed with myrrh (gall) as a mild analgesic. He was then thrown to the ground on his back, with his arms outstretched along the patibulum.
His hands were nailed to the crossbar at the wrists. The nails were tapered iron spikes approximately 5 to 7 inches long with a square shaft 3/8 in. across.
After both arms were fixed to the crossbar, He and the patibulum, together, were lifted onto the stipes. Next, His feet were nailed to the front of the stipes.
Every breath He took was a struggle, seared with pain.
The weight of His body, pulling down on the outstretched arms and shoulders, fixed the intercostal muscles in an inhalation state and thereby hinder passive exhalation. Accordingly, exhalation was primarily diaphragmatic, and breathing was shallow. This form of respiration would not suffice and hypercarbia (abnormally-elevated carbon dioxide levels in the blood) soon resulted. The onset of muscle cramps or tetanic contractions, due to fatigue and hypercarbia, further hindered His breathing.
Every breath He took was a struggle, shot with agonizing pain.
To exhale, He had to lift His body by pushing up on His feet, flexing His elbows and adducting His shoulders. However, this maneuver placed the entire weight of the body on His tarsals, producing searing pain. Furthermore, flexion of His elbows caused rotation of His wrists about the iron nails, causing fiery pain along the damaged median nerves. Lifting of the body also painfully scraped His scourged back against the rough wooden stipes. Muscle cramps and paresthesias (pins and needles) of the outstretched and uplifted arms added to the discomfort. As a result, each respiratory effort became agonizing and tiring and led eventually to asphyxia (depletion of oxygen to the body).
After “only” 3 to 6 hours hung on the cross, He breathed his last.
He suffered terribly, unto death, for each one of us.
God loves us this much.
So many Christians in America and other countries, like Italy, cannot go to church this Easter season because governments have closed churches to contain the spread of the Wuhan coronavirus. But we can remember His Passion today by going online for the Stations of the Cross. Go here.
- The Parable of the Farmer and Geese at “You were purchased at a price“
- Geologists confirm Jesus crucified on Friday, April 3, 33 AD
In memory of His love,