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Christ’s Appearance Disfigured

We continue our meditation of the drama of the crucifixion of Christ, and specifically, the words He spoke while on the cross. To prolong the torture and pain, the Romans put a little piece of wood under Christ’s feet, called a Sedile, so that the crucified person could put some weight on the wood and draw another breath. His back had been flayed and had many open wounds, so every time He pushed down on the Sedile to draw another breath, his back would endure terrible pain as he moved against the cross. From every side of the cross that one looked, we could see blood dripping, His hands, feet, head, back. His face was barely recognizable due to the beatings about the face and head.

Isaiah prophesied, “Just as there were many who were appalled at him—his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any man and his form marred beyond human likeness” (Isaiah 52:14 Emphasis mine). Here’s how the New Living Translation translates it: "Many were amazed when they saw him beaten and bloodied, so disfigured one would scarcely know he was a person" (Isaiah 52:14 NLT). Luke writes about the sneering of the religious elite that hated Him going on from the third hour, 9 a.m. till midday, the sixth hour:

34Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." And they divided up his clothes by casting lots. 35The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, "He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Christ of God, the Chosen One." 36The soldiers also came up and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar 37and said, "If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself." 38There was a written notice above him, which read: THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS. 39One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: "Aren't you the Christ? Save yourself and us!" 40But the other criminal rebuked him. "Don't you fear God," he said, "since you are under the same sentence? 41We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong" (Luke 23:34-41).

If anything shows the baseness of the human heart without God's presence, this scene is it. How can anyone look up at the bloodied, beaten, disfigured Lord Jesus, and say such mocking words with a sneer, “Let him save himself if he is the Christ of God, the Chosen One.” They did not understand that His mission in life was to be the Atonement, the One who would come to take away all sin. Jesus came to bear the judgment of sin in His body so that those who put their trust in Him can be free from sin and be born-again spiritually. Humanity at his worst was allowed by God to express their hatred of anything or anyone godly. After they had their way of beating Him, His very form and facial features were marred beyond human likeness. Can you imagine the thoughts and pain of His mother, Mary, as she watched the scene while her Son bore our sins? Every side of Christ that she looked, His very blood was dripping down. Yet, still, He said, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Oh, God, forgive us for the way humanity has scorned and beaten the God who has created us. Forgive us our sins, for Jesus’ sake. Keith Thomas

Taken from the series on the Gospel of Luke, study 63. The Crucifixion of Christ


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