Christ Took the Curse Deserved by Us.


In our meditation yesterday, we talked about Jesus not confessing any sin to lessen the scourging of His back by the Roman soldiers. According to a forensic pathologist, the scourging typically resulted in rib fractures, severe lung bruises, and lacerations with bleeding into the chest cavity and partial or complete pneumothorax (collapse of the lung).


Six hundred years before, the prophet Isaiah wrote of the suffering of the Messiah in these terms:


4Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. 5But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. 6We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. 7He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth (Isaiah 53:4-7 Emphasis mine).


In the above prophetic Scripture, the Hebrew word, chabbuwrah, is translated by the New International Version (NIV) as "His wounds" (v. 5). This Hebrew word means a stripe or bruise, the mark or stripes on the skin. The King James Version of the English Bible translates the passage as "by his stripes we are healed" (Isaiah 53:5). Many people believe that the scourging at the hands of the Roman soldiers accomplished healing for our bodies. Others say that the wounds that heal us are indicative of His substitutionary death on the cross. Whatever your view, Jesus opened a fountain of healing by what He experienced that day.


When the scourging was over, the Roman soldiers were still not finished with Him. The hatred of the Romans for the Jews found expression by the rest of the soldiers in the Praetorium, the Roman barracks, for they took turns to beat Christ and humiliate Him. Mark records that the whole company (450-600 men) or cohort (Greek speira) took turns hitting Him on the head with a staff and spitting on Him before then mocking Him by bowing before Him as they would to Caesar:

16The soldiers led Jesus away into the palace (that is, the Praetorium) and called together the whole company of soldiers. 17They put a purple robe on him, then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on him. 18And they began to call out to him, "Hail, king of the Jews!" 19Again and again they struck him on the head with a staff and spit on him. Falling on their knees, they paid homage to him. 20And when they had mocked him, they took off the purple robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him out to crucify him (Mark 15:16-20).


They put a staff in His right hand and Herod's scarlet robe around His back over His gaping wounds. Then, they twisted a crown of thorns and pierced His head with it. The crown of thorns takes us back to the curse on the ground in the Garden of Eden. Christ bore the symbol of that curse, i.e., the thorns, taking it to the cross with Him.

Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life. 18It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field (Genesis 3:17b-18).


In the Old Testament, more than five hundred years earlier, Isaiah, the prophet spoke of the Suffering Servant of God sent to Israel. He wrote:


I offered my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who pulled out my beard; I did not hide my face from mocking and spitting (Isaiah 50:6).


All of what happened to Christ was according to God's plan. On the Day of Pentecost, the Apostle Peter said to the more than 3,000 Jews before him, "This man was handed over to you by God's deliberate plan and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross" (Acts 2:23 emphasis mine). Under the sovereign hand of God, the Father gifted His Son to us to be our substitutionary sacrifice for sin, and Jews and Gentiles, i.e., all of humanity, in our ignorance of our need for a Savior, did our worst to destroy Him. Keith Thomas

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Shortened from study 38 in the Gospel of John: Jesus Sentenced to be Crucified.