Calvary –The Taxing of His Physical Flesh unto Death
Jesus Christ was a young man, just over thirty years old. Unquestionably, His age and the time He spent walking during His earthly ministry, leads me to consider His health was likely reliable and robust. Further, there is no recorded incidence of any physical issues or health problems in His youth or in His time of ministry on this earth.
Jesus Christ faced intense physical and mental suffering in the day leading up to His impending physical death on the cross. His time had come, this great spiritual occasion commenced in The Garden of Gethsemane the night before culminating on Calvary. Jesus Christ had sought out a quiet place for sincere prayer with His Father about His Father’s tremendous will for His life. Jesus departed away from His nearby three disciples who had come along with Him to the garden. These men were to stand watch as He sought intense prayer with His Father.
This private persuasive prayerful communication with His Father was so intense that in the Bible it has been recorded for us that Jesus Christ sweat drops of blood. Perhaps this sounds odd, or far out there, but it is physically possible. It is a named condition called hematohydrosis, where capillary vessels rupture, sending blood out from the body through sweat glands found on the surface of the body. It is, however, never a common occurrence. This medical phenomenon can certainly happen under intense pressure and physical stress.
Admittedly, looking towards His coming physical death at the hands of evil and wicked men would have been personally distressing and mentally taxing to the best of the best humans.
A few hours after His prayer time, Jesus Christ was arrested in this very same garden, handed over by the self-seeking actions of Judas, one of His chosen disciples. The hastily made plan was to detain Him into the wicked hands of Roman soldiers as a criminal. The soldiers brought Him to appear before Caiaphas, the Jewish High Priest as a Kangaroo Court of the Sanhedrin convened. The governor, the elders of the church, and scribes deliberated and questioned Jesus concerning His claim that He was The one and only Son of God.
During this and other subsequent circus-like proceedings and ponderings among Roman government formalities and procedures, Jesus Christ was made to face; His fate was perpetually sealed by God. Though He was innocent, He was roughed up, ridiculed, and sentenced to death to further the will of God in this wicked world.
Though this cost was high, physically, emotionally, and spiritually, Jesus Christ willingly and obediently allowed Himself to be arrested, mistreated, and murdered, according to the will of His Father, so that you and I could choose to live forever.
The behavior He endured was so much more than Christians would likely be willing to be subjected to today for spreading His gospel message. Most would consider this cost of losing their life to be too high, indeed.
The physical treatment of Him was deplorable and despicable; Jesus Christ was treated inhumanly, spit on, and cruelly flogged at the hands of Roman soldiers before being subjected to physical death. Flogging, also known as scourging, was a severe form of punishment often reserved for use on the “the worst of the worst” criminals, of which Jesus Christ certainly was not.
This scourging is introduced upon Jesus Christ at the discretion of Pilate, who less than twenty-four hours before had remarked that Jesus Christ was innocent and did not deserve to die. Pilate understood the truth of this moment.
Oh, how quick faulty human reasoning can change:
John 19:1 (KJB) Then Pilate therefore took Jesus, and scourged him.
Pilate, nonetheless, began this deplorable act of beating Him, to silence the demands of the retractors in the crowd. Rather than choosing to stand up for Him, an innocent man, thereby Pilate elected not to do what he innately knew in his heart was right. How often do we do this today?
Yes, how often do we, as professing Christians, choose to buckle under the popular opinion of the crowd rather than stand “spiritually tall” and insist upon what we know to be right and acceptable unto God?
Jesus Christ, nonetheless, stood “spiritually tall and stout” long-suffering in the face of an appalling public beating at the hands of His detractors.
The Prophet Isaiah prophesied about His willingness to bear flogging:
Isaiah 50:5-6 (KJB) The Lord GOD hath opened mine ear, and I was not rebellious, neither turned away back. 6 I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not my face from shame and spitting.
Jesus Christ’s great physical shape carried no perceived benefit when cruelly scourged numerous times against His bare skin. This repeated whipping quickly tore His skin as blood likely pooled on the surface of His back and trickled onto the ground about His feet. This brutal whip, which contained sharp pieces of bone or rocks, inflicted considerable damage, perhaps even causing chunks of His skin to fall away, exposing His tender soft tissues and muscles.
Deep bruising, with blood pooling like stripes, instantly colored the flesh of His backside, just as the Prophet Isaiah prophesied. What an awful sight to witnesses, but this gruesome sight did not move the hearts of these spiritually dead people.
How often do you and I partake in the dangerous and deadly practice of “spiritually flogging” or flinging a whip at Jesus Christ? When we choose to do wrong, or be wrong, rather than determining to “fly right” or according to the “voice” of our inner conscience?
Sadly, it is true, we, too, are often found to be no better than this unruly crowd when making choices. We can be quite inconsiderate and careless with our words and actions, considerably hurting and harming others about us, and profoundly saddening God.
A man is never an end to himself. All his actions and choices can and often do hurt others and, ultimately, God.
John 19:2-3 (KJB) And the soldiers platted a crown of thorns, and put it on his head, and they put on him a purple robe, 3 And said, Hail, King of the Jews! and they smote him with their hands.
As if caustic and derogatory words and physical beatings were not punishment enough, the soldiers placed a purple robe about His body and roughly thrust a crown of thorns upon His head and resorted to whaling Him with their fists.
This placing of a crown of thorns and the royal colored purple robe was an attempt to mock Jesus Christ’s claim to be God. Yes, and many people still choose to mock this claim today, though it is proven true.
God’s Word points to the truth that this crowd, and these inhuman government officials, saw or heard nothing tangible in any of His preaching and teaching:
1 Corinthians 1:18 (KJB) For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.
Indeed, this man’s claim to be Jesus Christ is bogus. He could not possibly be who He claimed to be. For even further gratification, these people found great pleasure in taunting and torturing Him.
You and I should ask ourselves a few pertinent questions: How often might we attempt to push God off His throne and tackle a big project or plan on our own? Or choose to follow our desires rather than wanting to be obedient to the will of God in our life? It is in these “self-first moments” that we choose to highly regard ourselves and place our agenda before the will of God, pushing God away to make room for our way and will.
Though we did not physically place Jesus Christ on the cross, our sin, along with the sin nature of all humanity, past, present, future, is the reason He willingly allowed Himself to be placed on the cross. Jesus Christ, sent by God, His Father, to bear the sin of all humanity (yes, your sin and mine) as is recorded in (1 John 2:1-2) to remove the power and sting of death and to render sin void of power.
He was willing to die for you and me. Nobody will ever care for us or cover us like Jesus Christ.
John 19:16-17 (KJB) Then delivered he him therefore unto them to be crucified. And they took Jesus, and led him away. 17 And he bearing his cross went forth into a place called the place of a skull, which is called in the Hebrew Golgotha.
Lastly, with His physical strength nearing depletion, He was expected to carry His cross to the hill where He was to hang, as did the other two men who were sentenced to die along beside Him.
The Bible does not give us clear evidence upon what hill, from several conceivable locations found in the area, as to which was the one where Calvary took place. However, we do know that this hill was in customary walking distance from the location where His flogging took place. At some point in this marching death parade on the road paved with the blood of men and in front of a crowd lining the way to Calvary, the Bible tells us a soldier had to summon a man from the watching throng to carry Jesus Christ’s cross the rest of the way to the hill for Him. Jesus Christ, in His humanity, was struggling to take His cross in the ever-increasing weakness of His flesh.
However, His Spirit was abiding with God and was incomprehensibly eternally secure when the man Jesus was shaky and weak.
Upon arriving on the hill of Calvary, Jesus Christ was placed on the cross by nails placed into His hands and feet. It has been said many times over the centuries that these nails did not keep Him there, for it was love that kept Him hanging on the cross.
The Bible does not go into detail concerning how He was hung. It does not go into more information for describing the nails driven into His tender and weak flesh. Or mention about His newly received wounds in His flesh from the nails. However, hangings were common among criminals. Perhaps more details were recorded concerning this moment in ancient historical references, but nothing else was inspired to be included in God’s Word.
One Bible verse validates the horror of His nail wounds present after His resurrection from the grave had taken place:
John 20:25-27 (KJB) The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the Lord. But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe. 26 And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you. 27 Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing.
Many have deduced about the nails being pounded into His hands and feet, declaring that there are arteries and small bones found in the wrists and feet. If arteries had been pierced with the nails, Jesus Christ would have spurted forth blood all at once, thereby quickly exsanguinating, losing His physical life long before all events took place as divinely recorded. There was a prophecy found in the Old Testament, which stated that not one of His bones were to be broken, certainly pounding nails into His hands and feet would risk an opportunity for breaking multiple small bones.
The soldiers placed the nails in His extremities with care to choose areas that would prolong His misery from hanging; rather than hitting arteries this was meant to inflict great suffering and pain and ultimately end in a slow physical death.
Yes, hanging often took time for death to come.
Secondly, it was prophesied in Psalm 22:14 and Psalm 34:20, that none, not even one, of His bones would be broken. Therefore, we know that the nails did not impact and break any of several bones located in His hand, wrist, and feet. Consequently, the deduction is often made that nails were pounded into His flesh in areas where they could make their way through only His soft tissues such as cartilage and tendons rather than hit bones.
Driving in the nails would have been extremely painful but likely create but minimal bleeding. It would have been venous bleeding that resulted, rather than spurting of arterial blood. Once Jesus was hung upon the cross, His blood would have continued to drip from the many wounds He received in the past several hours. Though this blood loss was not enough to take His life at this juncture, indeed, He was growing weaker and weaker by the passing of each moment.
Even when He was lingering near death on the cross, the crowd continued to wage persecution and hail pointed verbal assaults at Him. They were jeering at Him, egging Him on to remove Himself from this cross IF He was a King. He was King and could have chosen to prove Himself beyond any doubt, but He chose to remain obedient and faithful to God the Father’s will for His life.
Mark 15:29-32 (KJB) And they that passed by railed on him, wagging their heads, and saying, Ah, thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, 30 Save thyself, and come down from the cross. 31 Likewise also the chief priests mocking said among themselves with the scribes, He saved others; himself he cannot save. 32 Let Christ the King of Israel descend now from the cross, that we may see and believe. And they that were crucified with him reviled him.
The crowd desired to view any sign of His kingship but never expecting that what He claimed was True. Not one person in the crowd had any intention of believing what He had professed for themselves. The truth was far removed from their mind and heart this day, for they were all about refuting and invalidating Him and cheering Him on to death.
Any person who has chosen again and again not to believe in the Truth of God, will not likely be persuaded by any sign, no matter how significant it is, for their heart has been hardened, and their conscious seared to things of God. They look and hear in this world with different eyes and ears than does a child of God.
Both thieves hanging, one on the left and the other to the right of Jesus, also near death, were taking in all this commotion as they hung upon their cross. Their near-death viewpoint certainly had a different perspective than was possible from ground level. One of the thieves regarded the proclaimed royalty that Jesus Christ was the Son of God in the same vein as the loud and proud crowd did. This man also clamored with the crowd for Jesus to come down from the cross.
This thief did not believe Jesus Christ’s claim either, thinking that it was false and far-fetched:
Luke 23:39-43 (KJB) And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us. 40 But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? 41 And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss. 42 And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. 43 And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.
The other thief softened in heart could spiritually discern that the real answer was unequivocal Yes! Surely this was the Son of God, who was Jesus Christ. This criminal was humbled by his recognition of his sin, as placed against the holy demeanor of Jesus Christ. As he came nearer and nearer to his death, it became more evident and more apparent. This humbled thief came to understand this man, Jesus Christ, was innocent, and indeed was royalty. This criminal knew that every person should fear and revere this man named Jesus, rather than choose to accuse and scorn Him, but could do nothing from his physical disadvantage, except give a short but powerful testimony of his own newly rendered belief in God.
This criminal’s heart was spiritually softened and eternally sure of who God is. He desired for Jesus Christ to remember Him when He came into His new kingdom and spoke to Him in that regard within earshot of all those who had gathered to observe this spectacle of three men physically put to death.
This event is a lesson that we can take away from the witness of this thief; sometimes, it just takes being able to hear God from a different direction or location than what is typical. God’s perspective is far from what may naturally appear in this world, and perhaps hanging in such misery was enough of an “attention getter” to usher this thief to be able to hear of God’s “spiritual sense.”
It is never too late for a sinner to repent when the power and presence of God are involved!
Jesus Christ assured this thief, just as He does every other genuinely repentant sinner that He would certainly see God in paradise upon his physical death.
Luke 23:44-46 (KJB) And it was about the sixth hour, and there was a darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour. 45 And the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was rent in the midst. 46 And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost.
Then the moment the sin nature of all humanity is laid upon Jesus Christ was the most horrific burden that any man will ever face. In fact, doing so would be an impossible spiritual feat for man, but Jesus Christ is both man and God, and all sin laid upon Him. The sheer weight of sin was spiritually substantial and carrying it brought Jesus Christ to the door of death.
Jesus Christ faced physical death on Calvary so that you and I and all humanity can choose to live forever through faith in His complete spiritual transaction.
Not only did Jesus Christ physically die for all humanity but, just before His death took place, the whole earth was covered in a veil of darkness just before the noon hour when the sun would usually be bright and hot in the mid-day sky. Earthquakes shook the earth, dead rose from their graves, and the veil of the temple was rent in two. These feats were accomplished through the supernatural power and presence of God. God did not forsake His Only Son Jesus Christ, but employed Him in a magnificent spiritual fashion, for completing the spiritual work to usher in the opportunity for new spiritual life for every man (2 Timothy 2:4).
There were many witnesses this day and hour as the sky grew black, and many spectacular spiritual events began to take place.
Mary, Jesus’s earthly mother, had stood near the cross as her son made sure she was to be loved and cared for by the Apostle John before He gave His last breath.
Jesus lovingly offered one thief eternal life.
Jesus Christ continued to practice what He preached by choosing to care for others, leaving His own physical and spiritual life in the hands of God The Father.
How many truths and precepts we can learn from His eternally giving and loving nature He never quits or quivers or chooses to reside on the sidelines of life because of fear and prejudice or spiritual laziness.
Jesus Christ remains “spiritually stout” at the end of His physical life as His physical death closed in around Him. However, He is alive now, and always.
As obedient and longsuffering men and women of God become more and more Christ-like, nothing, not even ridicule, torment, or death, should stand in the way of fulfilling the will of God in their life. Jesus Christ did not allow any of these adverse or untoward circumstances stand in the way of achieving that which God desired in His life. He chose to stand “spiritually fit and tall” upheld in the supernatural power and strength of God, rather than in the weakness of his limited flesh.
The burden of His pending sacrifice brought Him to His knees in the Garden of Gethsemane to prayerfully commune with God His Father.
The cruel ridicule and physical torment He endured caused His human condition to waiver and wane, even making the walk to Calvary impossible in the weakened frail physical state of His limited human nature. Hanging on the cross at the very moment the sin debt of all humanity was laid upon His shoulders was by far the most spiritually horrendous and detrimental pain for it meant spiritual separation from His Father. Yes, the immense weight and spiritual burden of the sin debt were mentally, emotionally, and spiritually taxing, though Jesus Christ sought forgiveness for all those involved in His harsh treatment and physical anguish, just before succumbing to His physical death.
His divine plea: “Father forgive them…” (Luke 23:34) was unconditionally given to all His naysayers and opponents now, and those begging for Him to be put to death then.
Jesus Christ had the spiritual recognizance or wherewithal to think of others even in such horrid physical condition.
Jesus Christ was triumphant over the sting of death and the grave! His Spirit of Jesus Christ was not perpetually taxed or terminated that fateful day upon Calvary. This truth would be evident to many witnesses on the third day; He arose from the grave unto new spiritual life.
1 Corinthians 15:54-57 (KJB) So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. 55 O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? 56 The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Please read other devotions in our Unwrapping Calvary Series:
Stay tuned for our next devotion in this series titled Calvary – The Triumph for All Eternity