He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
–2 Corinthians 5:21
After Jesus’s sixth and final trial, Pontius Pilate ordered for Him to be scourged and crucified. In our system here in the United States, it is the law that execution ought to be as painless as possible, but the Romans thought differently. One scholar described the horror of Christ’s punishment this way: “The heavy whip was brought down with full force again and again across Jesus’ shoulders, back and legs. At first the weighted thongs cut through the skin only. Then, as the blows continued, they cut deeper into the subcutaneous tissues, producing first an oozing of blood from the capillaries and veins of the skin and finally spurting arterial bleeding from vessels in the underlying muscles. . . . Finally, the skin of the back was hanging in long ribbons, and the entire area was an unrecognizable mass of torn, bleeding tissue. . . .
“The heavy patibulum of the cross was tied across His shoulders. . . . In spite of Jesus’ efforts to walk erect, the weight of the heavy wooden beam, together with the shock produced by copious loss of blood, was too much. He stumbled and fell. The rough wood of the beam gouged into the lacerated skin and muscles of the shoulders. He tried to rise, but human muscles had been pushed beyond their endurance. . . . Simon was ordered to place the patibulum on the ground, and Jesus was quickly thrown backward, with His shoulders against the wood. The legionnaire felt for the depression at the front of the wrist. He drove a heavy, square wrought-iron nail through the wrist and deep into the wood. Quickly, he moved to the other side and repeated the action, being careful not to pull the arms too tightly, but to allow some flexion and movement. The patibulum was then lifted into place. . . . As the arms fatigued, great waves of cramps swept over the muscles, knotting them in deep relentless, throbbing pain. With these cramps came the inability to push Himself upward. . . . Air could be drawn into the lungs, but could not be exhaled. Jesus fought to raise Himself in order to get even one short breath. . . . He suffered hours of limitless pain, cycles of twisting, joint-rending cramps, intermittent partial asphyxiation, and searing pain as tissue was torn from His lacerated back from His movement up and down against the rough timbers of the cross.”
For those six hours, He looked down at the crowd and said to His Father, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). Yet God knew what He was doing. In some inexplicable way when Jesus died on the cross, He experienced the punishment of God that you and I deserve. In 2 Corinthians 5:21, Paul wrote, “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” This was the incomparable sacrifice that Jesus made for us.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “God On Trial” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2019.
C. Truman Davis, “The Crucifixion: A Medical View,” New Wine Magazine, April 1982, 12-14.