By Tom Quiner
This sentence from the Gospel of John is so lacking in heft:
“Then Pilate took Jesus and had him scourged.”
To John’s audience of his day, they got it. To modern man, we don’t.
I think that’s why Mel Gibson’s movie, “The Passion of the Christ,” was so significant. It depicted the utter depravity of scourging with bloody reality.
The scourging scene went on … and on … and on. I posted an excerpt above.
Here are the elements of a scourging:
The victim was stripped naked.
He was tied to an upright post.
The scourging (or flogging, as the term is also known) utilized a short whip featuring single or braided leather thongs of variable lengths. Tied to these thongs at various intervals were sharp pieces of iron balls or sheep bones.
The victim was typically flogged 39 times by two soldiers who targeted the back, buttocks, and legs. Why thirty-nine? Because forty was considered death. The Roman soldiers were not permitted to kill the victim before the crucifixion.
This relentless assault on the flesh of a man would tear the underlying skeletal muscles, producing quivering ribbons of bleeding flesh.
Think about Jesus’ situation: He hadn’t eaten; He was most likely dehydrated; He was sleep deprived; He had experienced profound blood loss; He was probably half dead before they nailed Him to the cross after being scourged.
To compound the trauma, his oppressors mocked Him as they scourged Him.
Fr. John Riccardo, a particularly eloquent commentator on the faith, sized up the situation this way:
“If this is the cure, imagine the disease.”
You and I are contaminated by the same disease, which the Church describes as “original sin.”
As we contemplate Good Friday, this darkest of days, join me in thanking Jesus for His sacrifice.
Join me in thanking Him for providing the cure to our disease.