Much like your parents attic, treasured memories lay within. So, wipe the dust off my ruminations and remembrances, sit back and enjoy!

Plastic Easter eggs...$.99...The Cross, PRICELESS

Note: Please scroll to the very bottom and PAUSE the music player there before playing this video...

Tomorrow, millions of people all over the world will be celebrating Easter. Easter brings back many memories for me, some religious, some not so religious. I’m not going to go on a tirade about the commercialization of Easter, but I would like each of you to put the thoughts of Easter grass, eggs, baskets, candy and even the Easter bunny aside for a moment and think about the gift freely given & the sacrifice endured some 2000 plus years ago by Gods only son Jesus. Neither Pontius Pilate (the Roman appointed Governor), nor Herod (the figurehead King) could find Jesus guilty of wrong doing, but through pressure from the Jewish religious leaders, Pontius washed his hands of Jesus and told them to do with him as they will. John 19:1 says that Pilate then had Jesus scourged. ‘…and scourged him…’ Just three words ... the mind absorbs them in a second and passes to the next sentence.

The Bible gives no further explanation. There is no footnote explaining what it means. Most of us read over it for years without really contemplating that word...scourged. It was somehow a part of the crucifixion. Maybe we heard a preacher say it was some sort of a whipping. Oh, but it was so much more. Pilate knew the Jews delivered Jesus out of envy (Matthew 27:18), and that He had committed no real crime, certainly not one worthy of death (Luke 23:15). Pilate also knew that something had to be done as these people were far too worked up to go home without any action, so he decided a scourging might satisfy their lust for vengeance. Today’s Humane Society would not allow a dog to be treated the way our Lord was.

An “examination by scourging” (Acts 22:24, 29) was a legal preliminary to every Roman execution. This brutal flogging was called the “little death” and preceded the “big death” (crucifixion). Only women, Roman senators, and soldiers (except deserters) were exempt. History tells us that a criminal was flogged either by two soldiers (lictors) or by one who alternated positions. Under Hebrew law a penalty was limited to forty strokes (Deuteronomy 25:3), so they normally stopped at thirty-nine in case they miscounted. The Romans, however, imposed no such numerical limitation. A scourging’s severity depended entirely on the lictor’s disposition. The only rule for the lictor who scourged a man about to be crucified was that he was to expire on the cross—not at the stake. Thus he tried to bring his victim to the very verge of death, without crossing that threshold. The scourging post was usually about two feet high. A criminal’s wrists were strapped to an iron ring that projected from two sides near the top. Sometimes the victim’s arms were stretched instead above his head and fastened to a beam. The usual instrument was a short-handled whip (flagrum, flagellum) with several single or braided thongs of variable lengths, on which sharp pieces of sheep bones were tied at intervals. Sometimes the whip instead was made of several thin, iron chains which ended in small weights. Clothing was stripped so the prisoner stood naked, or at the most with a loincloth. (Is it any wonder the Bible says, “Who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame...” Hebrews 12:2?) The man’s wrists were tightly fixed to the iron rings. He was stretched, face down, with his feet pointed away from the post (or in the case of the beam, he was hoisted vertically). In both cases, the shoulder blades were positioned to provide little protection for the underlying flesh. The tension of awaiting the first blow was cruel. The body was rigid. The muscles knotted in tormenting cramps. Color drained from the cheeks. Lips were drawn tight against the teeth. Then it came ... the whistle of the whip and the dull thud as it made contact with flesh, followed by the burning sensation and the first trickle of blood. Again and again, more rapidly they came, blow after blow. With seemingly unbearable agony the naked back, neck, sometimes face, chest (as the whip was allowed to encircle the body), buttocks, and legs were repeatedly struck. At first, it caused deep bruising. Then, as the lictor continued his well-practiced procedure, the thongs, sheep bones, chains, and weights cut into the skin...ever deeper, with each lash...After what seemed like an eternity to the victim and those who loved Him, His limp body was finally taken down from the post or beam. As was the custom, His wounds were washed but not otherwise medicated.

Afterword they put Jesus’ clothes back on His massacred back. Imagine how uncomfortable it was to have that rough material scratch against His open wounds! As the blood began to clot, His clothing became stiff and dry. The Roman soldiers, amused that this weakened man had claimed to be a king, began to mock Him. One of them fashioned a robe out of some purple material (or perhaps used the one Herod had used earlier); another ran out to a thorn bush and gathered some prickly limbs and formed them into a tight, pointed circle; another found a rod or stout stick to use as a scepter. Just about the time His bleeding stopped, they ripped His clothes off and placed the robe on Him (thus opening the wounds again). Imagine how that must have hurt! Even an area as small as that covered by a Band-Aid hurts terribly if it adheres itself to the Band-Aid. One soldier grabbed His head and forced the thorns down over His scalp. Think of the sharp thorns piercing His skin in dozens of places. Another took the reed and hit Him over the head, thus driving the thorns in more deeply. How He must have hurt! How He must have bled! Since even a small cut to the head bleeds profusely. The soldiers finally had all the fun they wanted with Him and took Him back to Pilate.

Pilate presented Him, beaten, bloodied and weak, to the people. Picture, if you can, Pilate leading this purple-clad Man, with scepter dangling from His hand, and bloody crown on His head, out for these sick people to see. Pilate said simply, “Behold the man!” (John 19:5). He must have thought that surely this would satisfy their hatred. Surely they will say, “You’ve done enough. Let Him go.” But he underestimated them. They wanted more, they wanted him crucified. And so, He was forced to carry a heavy cross (between 75 and 125 lbs just for the crossbar) upon His torn and bleeding back a distance of maybe 1 or 2 miles, tripping and falling who knows how many times and with each fall, jarring His battered body (until he could carry it no farther). Once they got to the top of a hill called Golgotha, the Roman soldier laid Jesus’ unresisting body on top of the cross, stretched out His hands and feet and drove spikes through them to attach Him to it. Can you imagine the pain He felt as the base of the cross slid into place with a thud, when they raised it? Then He hung there for many hours as people spat at Him and cursed Him and the soldiers even gambling for His clothes. In the end, He shouted, ‘My God! My God! Why have You forsaken me?!’ and with a clap of thunder and an earthquake, He surrendered His spirit…

But it didn’t end there…Why did Jesus go through this? He didn’t have to. He could have called down 100 legions of Angels to rescue Him. With a single word, He could have removed Himself from the cross and restored His own body...why, then? Why did he suffer such agony, such humiliation? Because He loved us and wanted to save us. And He still does to this day. John 3:16 says, ‘For God so loved the world that he gave His only Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.’ This means that God offered up His only son (Jesus) as a one-time sacrifice for ALL sins (past, present & future) and that if we truly believe that Jesus is the son of God & that He died for our sins and rose again, that we will not go to hell, but will go to our glory in heaven.…Three days after Jesus’ broken, pierced body was taken down from the cross and buried in the tomb, He rose from the dead! He appeared before over 500 witnesses and even had Thomas (one of the disciples who doubted) touch the wounds on His hands and put his hand in His side.…

Buddha didn't suffer for you...Muhammad didn't die for your sins...Krishna didn't fulfill over 200 prophesies written about him...Confucius didn't face death by the very ones he came to save and said, 'Father, forgive them, they do not know what they do...'

Christ did...Jesus Christ, the only son of God fulfilled ALL of these things and much much more...
He loves you and patiently waits for you...

He is risen indeed!

~ V


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