Month: February 2013

The Scourging and the Crown of Thorns

by IBD conributor Kyle Larson

Jesús en casa de Anás (1803)After his arrest in Gethsemane, the guards dragged Jesus before the Jewish nation’s supreme court: the Sanhedrin. The high priest, Caiaphas, had arranged for an impromptu trial of the controversial rabbi. Being held at night an in secret, the legality of the trial was already in doubt. As a line of false accusers came forward, each contradicting the last, all hope of a fair trial faded away; Jesus’ was guilty no matter how long it took to prove it.

Eventually, Jesus admitted his unique status as the son of God. Caiaphas, unable to make his sham trial effective, jumped at the opportunity to condemn Jesus as a blasphemer. The sentence was death!

Unfortunately for Caiaphas, the Jewish nation was living under Roman occupation and no man could be executed without the permission of Rome. So the Jewish leaders waited until early Friday morning to bring Jesus before the Roman Governor of Judea, Pontius Pilate. After a short interview, Pilate could not find any real basis for a charge against Jesus, so he sent him to Herod.

Herod could find nothing in Jesus’ worthy of death either, so Pilate, never a fan of the Sanhedrin or or the Jews, decided to release Jesus. Not because he cared for Jesus or because he was particularly worried about justice, but because the Sanhedrin was jealous of Jesus. Releasing Jesus would make them angry … and in some place in Pilate’s heart that thought pleased him.

However, after several attempts to release Jesus, Pilate found himself faced with a riot. What on earth had this man done to so enrage the Jewish leaders? After his wife came to him, begging him to have nothing to do with Jesus, Pilate washed his hands of the matter. He finally gave in to the will of the people and sent Jesus to the cross.

Jesus whipped with a flagrum, stained glassBefore a condemned man was taken to the cross, it was a preliminary procedure to have that man scourged. The type of whip used by the Romans was totally different than the kind used during the days of slavery in the Southern United States. The Romans used a kind of whip that had long leather strips. At the end of each of these leather strips were pieces of sheep bone and other VERY sharp objects. Thus, when this whip came down upon upon a man’s back, it also wrapped around the chest of the bent over man. This whip ripped through skin, muscles and nerves. This caused intense pain. As the whip came down on the man’s back and wrapped around his chest. severe bruising on the rib cage and the lungs would occur. Thus, when a man took a breath, it was extremely painful. Thus, during and after this brutal scourging, Jesus had to be careful to take shallow short breaths because if he attempted a normal deep breath, he would be in extreme agony.

If we had been there to view the scourging of Jesus, we would see his entire back broken open. Not only would the top layer of skin be totally ripped open, but also deeper layers of the back that would have ripped apart muscles and nerves. Large pieces of flesh came flying off of Jesus back, chest and legs.

The pain must have been agonizing not only on the back but also on the chest. Jesus would continuously slump down on the ground, only to be jerked back up again so that the scourging could continue. Many people died at the whipping post. Many people called the scourging at the post “the half death” because most victims, including Jesus, already half dead before even being nailed to the Cross.

As the scourging continued, the man would experience nausea and vomiting as well as severe dizzy and fainting spells. Yet the Roman soldiers showed no mercy as the scourging continued. When the scourging of Jesus was finished, he had huge black, blue and purple bruises all over the front and back of his body. He could hardly stand up.

The Crown of Thorns

Christ Carrying the CrossIn the case of Jesus, he claimed to be a King. Thus, the Roman soldiers chose to mock the Kingship of Jesus. In order to do this, the soldiers took part of a thorn bush and formed a “cap” that covered his entire head. These thorns probably came from the “Syrian Christ thorn” plant. These thorns were as hard as nails. When the Roman soldiers rammed down the crown of thorns on the head of Jesus, the thorns went the two major nerves that covered the entire head. When the crown of thorns came down upon Jesus, he experienced “trigeminal neuralgia” There would be agonizing pain all over the front and sides of his face. There would also be agonizing pain on the insides of his ears. It would have been the equivalent of having someone come up with a knife and stabbing a person all over the face.

I have a friend who has experienced trigeminal neuralgia. She writes:

“There are different levels pertaining to the pain of trigeminal neuralgia. I personally experience most of the time the pain on both sides of my face called bilateral pain. Besides feeling like a toothache I experience a severe amount of pressure around my whole lower jaw. It feels as though someone is squeezing your cheeks and jaws together with a piercing pain going on at the same time. Also, every so often I experience sharp, electric shocks to the side of the face like someone stabbed me with a sharp needle or knife. The pain can extend up the side of the face where your temples are and keeps going around to the top of my eyes and forehead like an excruciating, unbearable migraine in your entire face.There are times when the pain can get so severe that you feel like your face is on fire and there is nothing you can do about it; where you cannot get any relief”

Most movies on Jesus do not emphasize the severity of the scourging and the crown of thorns. Remember these things as you meditate on the passion of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Thursday Night – Gethsemene


By Kyle Larson – Contributor to the Institute

It’s late on a Thursday night. Jesus and his disciples have just finished eating the Passover meal. During this traditional gathering, the Rabbi, Jesus, had revealed some extraordinary things to his disciples. So extraordinary, in fact, that it would be some time before even they fully grasped their meaning.

The meal completed, Jesus and his disciples now make their way to a garden called Gethsemene. It’s a place they’d been many times before, but this evening Jesus expresses an unusual urgency to pray. Why tonight? Why here? After what was revealed at the Passover feast, what did the Rabbi has in mind?

Along the way, Jesus’ urgency only grows. In this urgency, the disciples see something they’ve not seen in their master before; They see fear. As he travels, Jesus’ mortal body is nearly overcome by apprehension and foreboding; As he approaches the gates, The fear center in his brain causes his heart to begin to race.

Upon reaching them, he halts and turns to speak. With his mind and body near a state of total emotional collapse, the words are difficult. Jesus informs his Disciples that he is engulfed in extreme sadness and fear. He and three of his disciples must travel further on to pray.

Jesus Christ Praying in GethsemeneAfter a short distance, he stops again, telling the three disciples with him to wait while he goes further to speak with his Father. Now, as he settles into deep prayer, from his forehead come sweat like drops of blood. The blood in his body seeped into his sweat glands as he poured forth bloody sweat. This condition is known as Hematidrosis and is triggered by an unimaginable sense of fear and horror.

Jesus is not the only one in history who has experienced the of sweating blood. Aristotle mentions this condition in one of his writings. Long after the time of Jesus, this condition would be reported widely.

In 1884, for example, a Dr J.H Pooley noted the emotional trauma of 6 condemned prisoners on their way to execution. In another case, the attempted rape of a woman caused her sweat to become like blood. In yet another case, a sailor caught out in a terrible storm at sea proceeded to sweat blood because of the extreme and unimaginable fear that he felt in that storm. During World War 1, a child in London during bombing raids was so overcome with fear, that she sweated great drops of blood.

As Jesus continues to pray, he becomes so overwhelmed with fear, that the Father sends an angel to comfort him. Jesus starts shivering and trembling in the cold night air. It seemed as though the overwhelming emotional agony of Jesus would never end. Yet as he kept sweating blood, as his heart kept beating rapidly, his shortness of breath along with all the other symptoms that goes along with extreme emotional agony, he slowly started to accept the reality of the Father’s Will for him.

As he accepted his Father’s Will for him, he slowly started to relax over his whole body. His heart rate started to slow down and his skin becomes less and less pale.

Jesus has won a mighty victory as he finally and willingly accepts his Father’s Will to go to the cross.

The True Jesus of the Bible

An excerpt from Hijacking the Historical Jesus

The True Jesus of the Bible—Four Key Doctrines

It is now time for us to examine the biblical portrait of Jesus, the traditional Jesus. The Bible teaches that Jesus always existed as God, the second Person of the Trinity (John 1:1, 14; Titus 2:13; 2 Peter 1:1). At a point in time, He became a man by adding to His Person a human nature (John 1:14; 1 Timothy 2:5; Philippians 2:5-8). He did this without ceasing to be God. Four key doctrines proclaimed by the early church may help shed light on the biblical perspective of Jesus. It is important to note that these doctrines were not “created” by church leaders, nor did these doctrines slowly evolve into existence. The components of these doctrines were clearly and originally taught in the New Testament, but had to be systematized in a coherent fashion in order to refute false views of Jesus.

TrinityThe Doctrine of the Trinity teaches that there is only one true God, but that this one true God exists throughout all eternity as three co-equal Persons (the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit). Jesus is the second Person of the Trinity. Only He became a man. The Father did not become a man, nor did the Holy Spirit become a man. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are three distinct Persons; yet they are only one God. They are not each one-third God; they are each fully God. Still, though they are one in nature, they are three in Personhood. Throughout all eternity, they existed as three distinct Persons, yet as only one God.

Though no single passage of Scripture exhaustively teaches the doctrine of the Trinity, the sub-points that comprise the doctrine of the Trinity are clearly taught throughout the Bible, especially in the New Testament. The Bible repeatedly and unambiguously teaches us that there is only one true God (Isaiah 43:10; 44:6; 46:9; 1 Timothy 2:5). The Father is called God (Galatians 1:1; 1 Peter 1:1-2). The Son is called God (Titus 2:13; 2 Peter 1:1; Philippians 2:6; Romans 9:5; Colossians 2:9; John 1:1; 20:28; Isaiah 7:14; 9:6; Jeremiah 23:5-6; Zechariah 14:5). And, the Holy Spirit is called God (Acts 5:3-4; 1 Cor 3:16). Yet, they are spoken of as three distinct Persons (John 14:16, 26; 15:26; Matthew 3:16-17; Isaiah 48:16). Therefore, the one true God exists throughout all eternity as three equal Persons. It would be a contradiction to say that God is one God, but three Gods. It would also be a contradiction to say that God is one Person, but three Persons. But, it is not a contradiction to say that God is one God, but three Persons. God is one in nature, yet three in Personhood. Hence, according to the Bible, God is three Persons, and Jesus is fully God, the second Person of the Trinity.

The Incarnation is the doctrine of the Bible that teaches that God the Son became a man. Several passages mention this truth (Philippians 2:5-8; John 1:1, 14; 1 Timothy 3:16; Luke 1:35; Matthew 1:22-23; Galatians 4:4). It is not a contradiction to believe that God the second Person of the Trinity, while retaining His infinite divine nature, became a man by adding a finite human nature.

Ravenna Mosaic of Jesus ChristThe Hypostatic Union teaches that Jesus is one Person with two distinct natures forever. In other words, He is fully God and fully man. To be fully God, Jesus continues to have all the attributes or characteristics that are essential for God to have. To be fully man, Jesus has to have all the characteristics that are essential for humans to have.

It is not possible for God to cease to be God. We know that Jesus retained His divine nature while becoming a man, since Scripture commands us and the angels to worship Him even after He became a man (John 5:22-23; Hebrews 1:6), and He continued to be called “God” after He became a man (Titus 2:13; 2 Peter 1:1). As a man, He still claimed to be equal to the Father (John 5:17-18; 10:30-33). He also claimed to be omnipresent (Matthew 28:20). The Biblical portrait of Jesus clearly indicates that He is fully God.

Still, Scripture also declares Jesus to be fully a man. He is called a man (1 Timothy 2:5), was born of a woman (Galatians 4:4), and experienced the limitations of human existence (Mark 13:32; Luke 2:52; John 4:6; 19:28); yet, He was without sin (Hebrews 4:15).

Therefore, Jesus had two natures: one human and one divine. These two natures remained distinct; they did not blend. If His natures blended, He would not be fully man or fully God; He would be a hybrid. Jesus is not half-God and half-man, but fully God and fully man. Was Jesus limited? Yes, but only in His human nature (Mark 13:32). Was Jesus unlimited? Yes, but only in His divine nature (Matthew 28:20). Jesus is one Person with two distinct natures forever.

Jesus and the Children stained glass from St. Michaels ChurchThe Kenosis is the doctrine that teaches that Jesus veiled His glory and humbled Himself by becoming a man (Philippians 2:5-8). Though Jesus did not cease to be God when He became a man and though He retained all of His divine attributes, He voluntarily chose to refrain from using some of His divine attributes while on earth. Instead, He depended on the Father for any supernatural assistance He needed (John 5:19-21, 30). Jesus did not use His divine powers to His advantage while on earth. In His human nature He could learn things and grow in knowledge (Luke 2:52). Even though He continued to be the all-knowing God, He chose to not tap into His divine wisdom while on earth.

These four doctrines are biblically based. They help us to understand the true identity of the Jesus of the Bible. The Bible teaches that there is only one God, but this one God is three Persons (the Trinity). God the Son became a man (the incarnation) to save mankind by dying for our sins. The Son added a human nature without losing His divine nature. Therefore, Jesus is fully God and fully man (the hypostatic union). Still, He veiled His glory by choosing to not utilize some of His divine powers while on earth (the kenosis). Instead, He lived a life of total reliance on the Father and the Father’s will.