Good Friday: Remembering His Passion and Sacrificial Love

Good Friday, April 2, 2021

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 p.m. Thursday to 9 a.m. Friday), He prayed. He saw all the sins of humanity — past, present, and future — for which He would atone. The cumulative effect of what He saw was so horrific that He sweated bloodhematidrosis, 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 already was 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 gall as a mild analgesic — a bitter drink of wine mixed with myrrh. 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, still cannot go to church this Easter season because governments have closed churches to contain the spread of the COVID-19 Wuhan virus. But we can remember His Passion today by going online for the Stations of the Cross. Go here.

See also:

In memory of His love,

~E

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Gracie Storvika
Gracie Storvika
9 months ago

It truly is beyond my comprehension just exactly what Our Savior, Jesus Christ experienced in paying the price to atone for my sins.

 
joandarc
joandarc
9 months ago

Dr. E, your post has no adjective to describe it as it is so horrible, the torture Jesus endured; I am certain that the preparation of this post was exhausting for you, because you set forth the factual happenings of complete evil to Our Lord. I thank you for everything you went through to help us grasp from our limited human understanding, what happened to Jesus, showing how much He loves us. I have the most important role of lectoring during the Good Friday services today at my Catholic Church, reading the Lord’s Passion. Please pray that I get through this before I cry. I could have no greater honor today.

 
James Stepp
James Stepp
9 months ago
Reply to  joandarc

It’s too bad you can’t include this description of the actual mechanics of the pain He endured-It would doubtless make a difference in the degree of the People’s Devotion to our Lord.

 
Tim Shey
9 months ago

The First Word in the Bible says Jesus Will Die on the Cross

The First Word in the Bible says Jesus is God and He Will Die on the Cross – YouTube