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Crucifixion is all ghastly to contemplate. The cruelty is stunning.

It goes beyond the shame and pain though.

Jesus died and paid the price with His precious blood to redeem me from the penalty of missing God’s goal (aka sin) for my life. I deserve death. Jesus has given me life. Not just any kind of life, but Jesus has given me eternal life. Life that will be abundant and never ever end.

The victim was scourged before crucifixion

Just before His crucifixion, Jesus was scourged by the Romans. The Bible does not directly indicate how many lashes Jesus received. Deuteronomy 25:3 states that a criminal should not receive more than forty lashes. In order to avoid possibly accidentally breaking this command, the Jews would only give a criminal 39 lashes.

The Apostle Paul mentioned this practice in 2 Corinthians 11:24, “five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one.” Again, though, Jesus was scourged by the Romans, not by the Jews. There is no reason to believe that the Romans would follow a Jewish tradition.

Scourging was the punishment ordered for Jesus by Pontius Pilate: He was to be flogged (Matthew 27:26) but not killed in that way. His death was to be carried out by crucifixion after the scourging.

  • John 19:1  — Pilate then took Jesus and scourged Him.
  • Luke 23:16  — “Therefore I will punish Him and release Him.”

The victim carried his cross

The victim of crucifixion was first severely scourged or beaten, an ordeal that was life-threatening by itself. Then he was forced to carry the large wooden crossbeam to the site of the crucifixion. Bearing this load was not only extremely painful after the beating, but it added a measure of shame as the victim was carrying the instrument of his own torture and death. It was like digging one’s own grave.

  • John 19:17  — They took Jesus, therefore, and He went out, bearing His own cross, to the place called the Place of a Skull, which is called in Hebrew, Golgotha.

Jesus the Messiah, having already been scourged, was probably too weak to continue carrying the cross:

  • Matthew 27:32–33  — As they were coming out, they found a man of Cyrene named Simon, whom they pressed into service to bear His cross. And when they came to a place called Golgotha, which means Place of a Skull,
  • Mark 15:21–22  — They pressed into service a passer-by coming from the country, Simon of Cyrene (the father of Alexander and Rufus), to bear His cross. Then they brought Him to the place Golgotha, which is translated, Place of a Skull.
  • Luke 23:26  — When they led Him away, they seized a man, Simon of Cyrene, coming in from the country, and placed on him the cross to carry behind Jesus.