Good Friday: A perspective that made me think.

Not long after I woke up this morning, I checked Facebook and a friend of mine had posted the following:

“Good Friday… is it just another day off work? Or a day to reflect? 

By the time he was crucified, Jesus had been up about thirty-six hours without any sleep. He was led about from the chief priest’s house to Herod’s to Pilate’s during the time that he was being tried, and we know he was led all about the old city of Jerusalem. From historical accounts, Jesus carried his cross about a third of a mile before he collapsed and wasn’t able to carry it anymore. Then came hemathidrosis. In hemathidrosis, a person actually exudes blood from every sweat gland in their body. Each sweat gland has a small capillary that surrounds it, and in hemathidrosis, that small capillary ruptures. As it bursts, a person actually bleeds into their sweat glands.. 
Luke 22:44 – ‘And being in agony He was praying very fervently; and His sweat became like drops of blood, falling down upon the ground.’ 

Jesus was under about as much anxiety and physical stress from an emotional standpoint that a human could experience, knowing that in a few hours he would be delivered into one of the most agonising and brutal deaths ever recorded in history.

Scourging was one of the worst punishments the Romans had to inflict on a human body. Typically, the victim was stripped completely naked and tied by his wrists to a post or wall with his back exposed. He was then whipped from the back of his arms, down his shoulders and back, across his bare buttocks, down the back of his legs and calves, all the way down to his heels by two Roman legionnaires, one on either side, alternating blows. 

The nine leather thongs were about six to seven feet long, and at the end of each thong was some lead shod, like a sinker you’d use to go fishing. Attached to the lead shod were pieces of sheep and cattle bone. The idea of those small pieces of bone was that, as the Roman legionnaire would beat his victim, snapping his wrist would cause the weight of the metal shod to dig into the back, while the sheep/cattle bone cut the skin. 

As the sheep/cattle bone lacerated the skin and actually dug in under the surface of the skin, the skilled and trained legionnaire could whip his wrist and literally lift small shards of skeletal muscle out through the skin, leaving small ribbons of muscle, about two inches long, hanging through the skin.

With one blow, one Roman legionnaire could inflict enough wounds to take one hundred eighty stitches to close. If you multiply that times thirty-nine, those two Roman legionnaires inflicted enough lacerations to take about 2,000 stitches to close. This gives you an idea of the amount of the physical trauma that was inflicted upon Jesus just from the scourging.
We know that Jesus was beaten in the face and head as he was mocked. By the time the Lord was crucified after his beatings, it’s almost certain that both of his eyes were swollen shut and no doubt his nose was pouring blood. 
During Jesus’ trials and humiliation we also know that a crown of thorns was plaited and placed on his head. The thorns were about an inch and one half to two inches long, and they’re as sharp as an ice pick. 

So, before Jesus’ crucifixion ever begins, his face has been beaten to a pulp, no doubt his eyes were swollen shut, his nose is bloodied, and I remind you that every pore in his skin has wept and oozed blood. Every visible surface on the good Lord Jesus, I am confident, was covered and caked with dried blood. And his back and his arms and his buttocks and the back of his legs were literally torn to shreds from the scourging. This was the shape Jesus was in before they ever gave him his cross to head out to Calvary.

Jesus never lost consciousness. There’s nothing in the description of his trials, his scourging or his time on the cross that tells us he was incoherent mentally or lost consciousness.

We know from Corinthian and Roman history that the crosses were usually in two parts. First, the cross bar, that from very good historical accounts can be estimated to have a weight of 125 to 150 pounds. Part of the custom was that many times these people would be forced to stagger through the streets after being scourged and beaten, with the cross bar tied to their arms, and to add to the ultimate humiliation, the victim had to bear the cross naked. Imagine how humiliating that would be in this day and time, much less how humiliating and agonising it must have been for Jesus.

Someone condemned to crucifixion would bear the cross bar through the streets to the point of crucifixion, and once there, would be thrown onto the ground. Nails would then be driven through their hands into the cross bar. Then two forks, something similar to pitch forks, would be placed around each end of the cross bar, and they would be boosted up and the cross bar hung on top of the upright post. Once they were braced on the upright post, both feet would then be nailed to the foot piece.

The nail wounds…. In order to be able to drive spikes through the Lord’s hands, they had to drive them through at the wrists. There, there’s a very strong ligament, called the traverse carpal ligament, that’s strong enough to support the body weight. Driving the nail down through the biggest nerve in the hand, called the median nerve. When the median nerve is transected, it gives about the sensation of having an electric cattle prod stuck to your wrist and a constant electrical shock going through your hand, and causes the fingers to claw. 

The Romans did the same thing with the feet. The spike would have been placed between the first and second metatarsal bones. The spike misses the artery, but does hit the plantar nerves, thereby causing that same horrible shock sensation.

When hanging by their arms, as a crucifixion victim’s body weight sags down, their diaphragm functions like a billows. As the diaphragm drops into the abdomen it pulls in air, so someone hanging on the cross had no difficulty whatsoever pulling air into their lungs. The tough part for people hanging on the cross was breathing out. In order for a crucifixion victim to exhale, they would have to pull up against the spikes with their hands, and push up against the spikes with their feet. Every time he took a breath, that tattered, lacerated and riddled back was scraped across the splinters and the rough knobs and spikes protruding from the cross. Each time he breathed out, each time he uttered a word, he would have to pull up with his arms and push up with his legs. That’s why he couldn’t say more than three or four words at a time. Because when you talk, you only talk as you breathe out, not as you breathe in. Every word Jesus spoke on the cross was spoken as he was pulling up against the nails and dragging his back across the cross. 

Finally, when he had done all of that, he said, ‘It is finished.’ And when he said ‘It is finished”, that’s the last time he pulled up with his hands and pushed up with his feet, dragging his back across the cross as he hung there naked before the city of Jerusalem in total shame and humiliation. Convicted and tortured and condemned.

Good Friday is more than a reflection or a day off work… it’s a day to thank God for loving us so much. He died for you and me.”

 

…and that’s all I have to say about that.

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