Beloved, the cross is not made of feathers, or lined with velvet, it is heavy and galling to disobedient shoulders; but it is not an iron cross, though your fears have painted it with iron colours, it is a wooden cross, and a man can carry it, for the Man of sorrows tried the load. Take up your cross, and by the power of the Spirit of God you will soon be so in love with it, that like Moses, you would not exchange the reproach of Christ for all the treasures of Egypt. Remember that Jesus carried it, and it will smell sweetly; remember that it will soon be followed by the crown, and the thought of the coming weight of glory will greatly lighten the present heaviness of trouble.
C.H. Spurgeonby admin
Consider for a moment with me the Roman centurions who were tasked with crucifying Christ! In Mt 27:24 Scripture says “So when Pilate saw that he was gaining nothing, but rather that a riot was beginning, he took water and awashed his hands before the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of bthis man’s blood; see to it yourselves.” “.
Let me paint a picture for you.
Pilate would normally read off the list of charges against someone the centurions were to crucify. Instead, as the Centurions pick up Jesus for his execution, they see their leader distance himself from the situation, saying he didn’t want Jesus’s blood on his hands. Normally, for most executions, some would show up for the spectacle, some would show up because their loved one was to die, and some would show up because they were victims of the one to be crucified. In Jesus case, they surely took notice that the loud, angry and tempestuous crowd was on the verge of riot. It had to make them wonder who this man was to be so reviled by his countrymen.
It didn’t slow their actions vs Jesus however, because in the next few verses we see them strip him naked, and scourge him nearly to death. They mock and insult him, and wrap him in a purple robe (a jab at his status as King of the Jews).
Please watch this clip from the passion of the Christ, so that you’ll understand what it was like to be scourged… Its 5 minutes well spent…
As graphic as this scene is, it does not, and could not show the full horror of the scene. I am an avid reader… I was reading a book a number of years ago about maritime history, and one of the things that was covered was a scourging with a cat-of-9-tails. This is the device that would have been used to scourge our savior. It was an instrument designed to cause as much pain, and inflict as much damage as possible. It was about a meter (3 feet) in length, and had 9 whip like tails each with their own piece of bone, metal, sharpened stone, or other horror attached. 5 lashes would remove half of the skin from your back, sides, and front. By thirty, significant portions of your flesh would be gone as well, leaving bone exposed. By 40, the cat’s tails would be digging into your internal organs – likely tearing into your Kidneys, possibly your appendix, intestines, colon, gallbladder, and possibly even your liver. Being naked, his genitals would have been repeatedly hit as well. This all on its own would have caused death. They chose this moment to wrap him in purple.
The centurions, were likely hardened men, having had to do these things on a regular basis. They probably took a certain amount of pride and joy in their work. I think we can see their exuberance in their mocking. They are not only doing their job, but going the extra mile to try to humiliate Christ as well.
Then they ask him to haul his own cross several miles, up a hill, and to the place where his earthly body would die.
Any of you who’ve ever bled know that it doesn’t take the body long for some of the blood to dry and form a scab. By now it had been potentially several hours since the scourging. More than likely the robe would have stuck in scabs newly forming around his entire body.
Then he was nailed to the cross. It has been said that if a prisoner managed to un-nail himself, the centurion responsible for the nail in question would be executed. One nail in each “hand” (which in the original language included the wrist, and a little ways beyond), one nail through both feet. They raised him, and dropped the cross into the hole. They cast lots for Christ’s robe.
At this point Jesus asks God to forgive the Centurions because they didn’t know what they were doing. Imagine the centurions reaction to all of this… A criminal asking for the forgiveness of his tormentors? A criminal that wasn’t yelling, even screaming obscenities? A criminal their boss found no fault in. A criminal that offered no struggle, despite the horrors they had put him through. No angry come backs despite their mocking. The only thing he offered to the centurions, was the thing they needed most… Grace.
Isaiah 53:5 says “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.”
Let me leave you with a song that really impacts me. It is called “How deep the fathers Love for us” by Sarah Sadler.
Particularly, pay attention to the verse that says:
“It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life
I know that it is finished”