Jesus’ suffering and crucifixion

I want us to examine Jesus' suffering and crucifixion from two perspectives. Firstly, I want to look at it from a medical point of view—brace yourself for the painful truth about the horrible ordeal, the Lord of Glory endured. Secondly, I want to look at it from the perspective of fulfilled prophecy—our Lord wasn’t taken unawares; in fact, what occurred was foreseen and foretold hundreds of years earlier.

Without a doubt, the Saviour paid an incredible price to purchase our redemption with His own blood. Will we see in this pre-meditated ordeal the epitome of love that God has for us?

The Garden Of Gethsemane

Jesus Christ was fully human, but at the same time, He was God manifest in the flesh. He knew the terrible fate that lay ahead of Him. He knew the job He had come to this earth to do, the mission he had to fulfil, and He considered with dread this agonising torture and inevitable death that lay ahead of Him.

“Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me,” He prayed.

But it was not His Father’s will to take away the cup. For the cup is why His Son was sent into the world. And Jesus submitted to His Father's will.

There in the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus was under as much anxiety and physical stress as any human could experience.

“And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly. Then His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground” (Luke 22:44).

Sweating blood is a medical phenomenon called hematidrosis. This condition results in the secretion of blood or blood pigment in the sweat. Under conditions of great emotional stress and agony, tiny capillaries in the sweat glands can rupture, causing blood to mix with perspiration. Hematidrosis also results in the skin becoming extremely tender and fragile.

His Trial Before The Sanhedrin

After the arrest in the middle of the night, Jesus is brought before the Sanhedrin and Caiaphus, the High Priest.

It is here the first physical trauma is inflicted. The officers strike Jesus across the face for claiming to be the Christ, the Son of God. They blind Him with a cloth, and taunt Him to identify them as they pass by. They spit on Him and pull out His beard, all to desecrate and demean Him in the most offensive way possible.

Just as Isaiah had prophesied:

“I gave My back to those who struck Me,
    And My cheeks to those who plucked out the beard;
I did not hide My face from shame and spitting” (Isaiah 50:6).

The Scourging Of Jesus

Jesus is delivered to the Gentiles to be mocked and scourged. Preparations for Jesus’ scourging. Jesus is stripped of His clothing and His hands tied to a post above His head. The Roman legionnaire steps forward with the flagrum in his hand. A whip consisting of several heavy, leather thongs with small balls of lead and bone pieces attached near the ends of each. The heavy whip is brought down with full force again and again across Jesus’ shoulders, back, and legs. The heavy thongs cut through the skin at first. As the blows continue, they cut deeper into the hypodermic tissues, producing an oozing of blood from the capillaries and veins of the skin. 

The long strands of the flagrum strike Jesus’ body, wrap around and dig into the front and sides of His body. The flagrum is pulled back quickly, violently riping and tearing the flesh off His body. Eventually, the skin on Jesus’ back is hanging in long ribbons, and the entire area is an unrecognisable mass of torn, bleeding tissue. 

Thus fulfilling a Psalm:

“The plowers plowed on my back; 
    They made their furrows long” (Psalm 129:3).

The centurion in charge stops the whipping, seeing Jesus is near death.

The Soldiers Mock Jesus

The half-fainting Jesus is untied and allowed to slump to the stone pavement wet with His own blood. 

The Roman soldiers jeer and mock this provincial Jew who claims to be a king. They throw a robe across His shoulders and place a stick in His hand for a sceptre. They still need a crown to make their mockery complete. Small flexible branches covered with long thorns four to five cm long, commonly used for kindling fires in the courtyard, are pleated into the shape of a crude crown. The crown is pressed down into his scalp. 

The scalp is one of the most vascular portions of the body, it has a huge supply of blood. The thorns are shoved down onto the bony plate, penetrating His scalp and vascular tissue, causing excruciating pain and huge blood loss. 

They mock Him and strike Him across the face, the soldiers take the stick from His hand and strike Him across the head, driving the thorns deeper into His scalp. Finally, they rip the robe from His back. The robe had already become adhered to the clots of blood and serum in the wounds. Ripping it from His back causes excruciating pain, and the wounds begin to freely bleed again.

As a result of this vicious beating, Jesus is bruised, lacerated, swollen and bloody beyond recognition.

All in fulfilment of Isaiah’s prophecy:

“His appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any human being and his form marred beyond human likeness” (Isaiah 52:14).

Jesus Carries His Cross

The soldiers take the heavy patibulum, the cross-bar of cross, and tie it roughly to Jesus’ shoulders. They walk slowly through the crowded streets. Some people jeer and mock, others shrink back in horror.

Jesus has been up all night, enduring multiple brutal beatings and a flogging. With the pain, loss of blood and lack of sleep, Jesus is in a severely weakened state. 

He starts to carry the cross-bar, but stumbles and falls. The rough wood of the beam gouges into His lacerated skin and muscles. He struggles to rise as His muscles have been pushed beyond their endurance. The weight of the heavy wooden beam, together with the shock produced by the blood loss, is too much. No matter how He struggles, He cannot rise to carry it any longer.

The soldiers, casting around for a way to move this prisoner to the killing ground, force Simon of Cyrene to carry Jesus’ cross for Him.

Jesus' Crucifixion

Outside the city walls are rows of permanent wooden stipes. The Romans leave them there to be more efficient in their brutal killing. Jesus is propelled near one of the stipes, and thrown on His back, with His arms outstretched along the cross-bar.

The legionnaire feels for the depression at the front of the wrist, places a spike in the depression, and quickly drives a heavy, square, wrought tapered iron spike approximately 13 to 18 cm long with a square shaft 1 cm across through Jesus’ wrist and deep into the wood. He moves to the other side and repeats the action. The brutal square shaft pierces Jesus’ skin and flesh, avoiding all bones.

Thus scripture is fulfilled:

“He guards all his bones; not one of them is broken” (Psalm 34:20).

Jesus, nailed to the cross-bar, is hoisted to the top of the stipe and fixed in place.

Having affixed Jesus and the cross-bar to the stipe, the legionnaire now grabs hold of Jesus’ left foot, and presses it backwards against His right foot. With both feet extended, toes down, he drives a nail through the arch of each, leaving Jesus’ knees moderately flexed.

Crucifixion has begun.

The legionnaire almost done, reaches past Jesus’ mangled, tensed form and nails a title above His head, which reads, “THE KING OF THE JEWS.” 

The soldiers and civilians, drawn by the spectacle, begin to taunt and jeer the condemned man. The soldiers, attracted by Jesus’ finely woven seamless garment, decide to gamble to see who would get His clothing. This action fulfils a prophetic psalm: 

“They divide My garments among them,
    and for My clothing they cast lots” (Psalm 22:18).

On The Cross

As Jesus slowly sags down with the weight of His body on the nails through His wrists, excruciating, fiery pain shoots along the most sensitive nerve endings in the body – called the median nerves – and travels along the fingers and up the arms to explode in His tortured brain.

As His arms fatigue, great waves of cramps sweep over His muscles, knotting them in deep, relentless, throbbing pain. With these cramps come the inability to push Himself upward. Hanging by His arms, the pectoral muscles are paralysed, and the intercostal muscles are unable to act. He can draw air into His lungs, but He cannot exhale.

Jesus fights to raise Himself by his legs in order to get even one short breath of life-giving oxygen. Doing so, however, comes at a price. To get a breath and relieve the pain in His arms and chest, He pushes Himself upward, placing His full weight on the nail through His feet. The searing agony transfers from His wrists to His feet, tearing through the nerves between the metatarsal bones. 

He snatches a breath, and sags back down.

And that is what He did every time he spoke.

Air is precious and painfully won. Yet in spite of this agony, Jesus’ concern is for the forgiveness of those who counted themselves among His enemies; 

“Father, forgive them for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).

The Spiritual Struggle

On the cross, Jesus is not only experiencing physical torment, but also intense spiritual pain. 

He cries out, 

“My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46, quoting Psalm 22:1).

He is expressing His feelings of abandonment as God places the sins of the world on Him.

Hours of unlimited pain, cycles of twisting cramps, and irregular partial asphyxiation, eventually lead to another type of pain. He begins to experience a deep, crushing pain in the chest as the fibrous tissue that surrounds the heart slowly fills with serum, and begins to compress the heart. This sped up His death. The loss of tissue fluids reach a critical level. His compressed heart is struggling to pump thick, heavy blood into the tissues, and His tortured lungs make a frantic effort to gulp in small gasps of air. 

Jesus gasps, “I thirst.” 

With one last surge of strength, He presses His torn feet against the nail, straightens His legs, looks into heaven, and utters a cry, 

“It is finished.”

Jesus breathes no more.

What Manner Of Love

Jesus breathes no more because He willingly took your sin and mine, and died in our place.

You see God is holy, God is righteous, God is to pure too behold sin.

So the great question of all Scripture is this, how does a just God pardon sinners and still be just?

We have sinned against God, we have sinned against one another, we have sinned against nature, we have sinned against everything. All of creation calls for our condemnation. 

God is a just God, He must condemn our sin. But God is also love, and so He becomes a man in His Son, living a perfect life as a man. 

Then He goes to that tree, and on that tree, the sins of the world are cast upon Him. And all the justice of God, all the wrath of God that is deservedly ours, is thrown down upon the head of Jesus.

After suffering, Christ said, "It is finished." That meant He did what was required to satisfy God's justice against the sins of man. He paid the price in full. Our sins were atoned for because on the tree He bore our sins and it pleased the Lord, it pleased Yahweh to crush Him. The wrath of God that should have fallen on you and me, fell upon His only begotten Son. 

Jesus suffered and died because He wants you to live, not to perish. Do you know Him?

Jesus suffered and died out of His limitless love for you. Do you love Him?

Jesus took your sin because He wants to live with you forever. Do you want to live with Him?

Jesus suffered in full, He paid the price, He died, for the wages of sin is death and on the third day he rose again from the dead. And He is seated at the right hand of God in glory. And there's no other name, no other name under heaven given to men, whereby we must be saved, except for the name of Jesus. Except for the name of Jesus! He is the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Him. For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.

If you want to know Him, love Him, live with Him, the Bible calls you to repent of your sins and to believe in the goodness and graciousness of God, revealed through Jesus Christ. 

Repent and believe! Turn from your ways! Submit to God’s will! Obey God’s truth!

Beloved! Jesus went through this agony and shame—not because He was powerless—but because of His incredible love for you. He suffered to save you. He suffered to save you.

Will you repent?

Will you love?

Will you obey?

“Today is the day of salvation.” 

Will you accept Jesus’ salvation?

Will you accept?


References

Ideas for “Jesus’ Suffering and Crucifixion” taken from:

  • “Loving the Word with the Mudpreacher” by Jim Tompkins
  • “Crucifixion – The Physical Suffering of Jesus” by Jeremy Myers
  • “The Crucifixion of Jesus, Our Precious Lord and Saviour” by Dan Corner