Updated: Apr 16, 2022
Today is Good Friday and I have been reflecting on the events that happened on this day more than 2000 years ago to Christ. My mediation this year seems to be focusing on the cruel beating and whipping of Jesus. Crucifixion is cruel and painful enough, but in Jesus case he was also brutally beaten before his crucifixion.
I can’t imagine the emotional and physical pain Jesus endured as he was mocked, hit across the face, and ultimately beaten with a cat-of-nine-tails. Josephus the historian writes you could see Jesus’ ribs after the beating. Why the cruel beating? Why any of this? After all we are talking about a man who had done nothing wrong except claiming to be one with God and doing good. There were no criminal charges brought against Jesus except blaspheming. That hardly warrants a cruel beating and crucifixion even by Roman standards.
Here are two historical reasons why Jesus suffered so greatly:
It was prophesied in the Old Testament that the Messiah/Christ would be beaten and crucified. He was fulfilling prophecy.
2. It has been written in the Old and New Testament that Jesus would suffered (be
beaten) for our healing and that Jesus was paying the price for our sins.
While I accept the biblical reasonings for Jesus suffering they don’t satisfy my curiosity of wanting to know why such inhumane treatment. So here are a few of my thoughts:
Jesus suffered great injustice and endured unimaginable pain as God, because as God he wanted to feel our pain and experience our injustice brought about by sin. Perhaps God was communicating to us that he is not the kind of God who sits high about us untouched by our sufferings; but rather the kind of God who gets in the middle of our mess suffering along with us. As such he is a God who sympathizes with our sufferings, He is a God who feels our pain.
This is comforting to me as our family gathers around my brother who is dying and without a miracle this will be the last Easter season we share with him. I look at my dying brother knowing that his death is premature and so unnecessary and it causes me great pain. I hurt for him as his life here on earth is coming to an end. I hurt with his wife and children as they will be saying their good byes to their husband and father. I look at the cruelty of death and the emotional loss of separation and I’m angered, hurting, and feel so helpless. However, as strange as it might sound I find comfort in knowing that God is in this mess with our family and He feels pain along with us. The reason that brings me comfort is because if God was willing to come down and experience suffer to associate with our pain, then there is a bigger purpose than God hurting along with us.
Which brings me to my second thought - we have two images of Jesus on earth. The image of a loving, caring, gracious Jesus who went around doing nothing but good. We have this image of a man we all admire and would long to imitate. The second image is the beating and crucifixion of Jesus upon the cross. This image is gruesome, and if you have watched the Passion, hard to imagine. In these two images perhaps God is showing us humanity before sin and after sin. What God created was absolutely beautiful in every way, but sin has ravaged His creation like Putin is ravaging Ukraine.
This bring me comfort and hope as I understand God’s plan is to restore His creation back to how it was before sin entered into our story. So our future is beautifully filled with love and grace like we have never experienced in this life. This brings comfort and hope as I watch my brother spend his lasts days here on earth knowing that he is returning to the loving and great God we serve, and there, my brother will find what his soul has always longed for.
Lastly, perhaps Jesus suffered so greatly because he was a warrior battling for our liberation. War is never beautiful. War is unjust, cruel, and inhumane. In most wars there is one side seeking evil and the other side who opposes that evil. Sometimes war is necessary to stop the injustice. Jesus, like David in the Old Testament stand against our enemy, the enemy of sin and all of it evil intent, and says I have come to defeat you. Jesus death upon the cross was nailing sin to the cross so we could find freedom from sin’s bondages. “For the wages of sin is death, but the give of God is eternal life in Christ.” Romans 6:23
I won’t conquer all of sin’s bondages in this life, but I have hope of eternal life where sin will not exist. A life that will be forever where there is no more sickness, pain, sorrow, or death because the former things are no more.
Through Christ I endure the cross because I know there is no resurrection without a cross. And I long for God’s resurrection where he will restore all things beautiful!
Happy Easter my friends!