The crowd demanded that Barabbas be set free. They ignored the innocence of Jesus; instead, they exchanged him for a murderer. Jesus was put on display, humiliated, in a mock trial, all to appease the multitude. Their protest drove Pilate to send Him to stand before Herod. Now He was back. Herod couldn’t find anything wrong with Jesus. Pilate found himself in the same predicament. He decided to wash his hands of the whole mess. The crowd wanted Jesus crucified. To quench their thirst for blood the torture began. It started with the beating of His face. Soldiers taking their turn, struck Him with brutal force; each one more sadistic than the one before.
Their motivation driven by the ravenous throng who yelled for more; once again they were not disappointed. The pain from each strike became numbing. Jesus knew His face was disfigured… He could see it reflected in the eyes of the onlookers; but that didn’t stop them.
Then the whipping started; ripping His skin each time the cat o’ nine tails made contact. Shredding His flesh, opening gaping wounds. Jesus could hear the crowd chant. With each strike the cheers got louder. They started to count in unison, becoming more frantic with each number. It finally stopped at thirty-nine. His back laid open, you could see his bones. The soldiers holding their whips were sweating and blood splattered. Jesus stayed on His knees trying to catch His breath. He couldn’t. The excruciating pain increased each time He inhaled.
They grabbed Him under the arms jerking him to his feet. His legs were so weak it made Him unstable. The soldiers held onto Him as His muscles went through spasms while the pain racked His body. The commander stood face-to-face with Him. The spit felt warm as it splashed Jesus’ face. He could see a sly smile crease the commander’s lips. All of sudden the pain in His back seemed to disappear as a new pain exploded taking its place.
The thorns tore through His skin and penetrated deep into His skull. Jesus could feel each thorn as it made its resting place after the shoving stopped. Now the pain tormented His whole body as He tried to stand in front of the commander. “Now that’s what I call a crown, fit for a false king,” he bellowed as he shoved Jesus. Who lost His balance and fell to the ground. The sand was now stained with His blood. The soldiers helped Him back up, sand stuck to His blood and sweat. It caked on like mud. The blood coming from His skull mixed with the blood from His marred face.
“Take him to Golgotha” the commander ordered. Once again they grabbed Jesus under His arms to stand Him up. “He can carry his own cross,” the commander chided.
The weight of the cross would be a task for a healthy man. Jesus being weak from the beatings, along with the crown of thorns, struggled to carry such a burden. Several times Jesus went to His knees to rest, trying to gather the strength needed to make it to the top of the hill. The soldiers grew impatient and snatched someone from the crowd to help. The crowd peered in to glance at Jesus. Sneering, spitting, cursing, and yelling, they jeered: “Crucify Him.”
The walk up to the top of Golgotha seemed to take too long. The soldiers continued to grow anxious. The dust the crowd kicked up dried His mouth. He gagged. Once again his body screamed in pain each time it was rattled by a cough. Reaching the top the crowd gathered around anticipating a climatic conclusion. The soldiers took the cross from Jesus’ back. He once again dropped to His knees as the soldiers dropped the cross. It landed with a loud thud that seemed to shake the entire hill. It silenced the crowd; but only for a moment. As the dust cleared the frenzy returned. A soldier stood facing Jesus and lifted his foot kicking Jesus back on the cross. He didn’t even feel the splinters that stuck His back when He landed.
Blood dotted the Roman soldier with each impact of the nail ripping through Jesus’ hand. Searing pain ran up His arm to His brain. His cry of agony could not even be heard over the shrill of the crowd. They were incensed with the sight of blood. Just like lions that devoured their prey, the smell and the spectacle of it brought them to a point of out-of-control behavior. If it was blood they wanted, it was blood they got. With each strike of the hammer the crowd cheered ever louder. The soldiers had their orders. They relished in torturing those who claimed to be greater then Caesar.
After the nailing, the soldiers used rope to raise the cross and slide it into the four-foot hole they had dug. Dropping the cross into place inflicted still more pain: for it landed with such force and violence as to dislocate both His shoulders. With His arms extended above His chest He could barely breath. With the little strength He had left he exerted Himself to try to stand on the wooden block His feet rested upon. Each time it allowed a little more air to enter His lungs. His back against the cross received more splinters each time it slid up, as He tried to stand.
His body covered with blood, and in agonizing pain He heard the taunts. “If He saved others; let Him save Himself. He say’s He’s God’s Messiah, let Him prove it.” Even one of the criminals hanging next to Him doubted.
“Aren’t you the Messiah? If so, save Yourself and us” he challenged.
Again Jesus tried to stand to allow air into his lungs. After hanging for three hours he was spent. “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
Soldiers cast lots for His clothing as they waited around the base of the cross. The crowd now unobtrusive; watched and waited, and became frightened. A soldier offered Jesus a sponge drenched in wine vinegar while mocking Him: “If you are the king of the Jews, save Yourself.”
Jesus refused the sponge and cried out: “My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?” Once again the soldier raised the vinegar soaked sponge to His lips. This time He took it. He then looked up to heaven saying, “It is finished.” He bowed His head and died.
The soldiers were ordered to break the legs of the two criminals so they could no longer stand to gasp for a breath, they came to Jesus. He was motionless, blood still dripping from his battered body. In one more sadistic gesture to see whether Jesus was still alive they took a spear and shoved it into his side. There would be no reason to break His legs. All of a sudden the whole earth shook; creation groaning. The sky turning black even though it was midday. For the next three hours the earth was covered in darkness. All those who demanded a crucifixion now cowered in their homes. Never had there been such a display of revealed truth.
Author’s Note: We know the story doesn’t end there. God’s Word tells us on the third day Jesus, as He said He would, rose from the grave to conquer death. My desire to tell the story in a graphic way is very personal. It reminds me of the suffering, the pain, and the humiliation He endured because of the love He has for me and for you. The realization that His own Father could not look at His own Son because the sins of the world were placed upon Him breaks my heart. Hence the reason Jesus asked why He was being forsaken? Writers sometimes take poetic license in telling a story. My prayer is I did nothing to take away the Honor and the Glory Jesus deserves. I hope this story makes you fall deep in love with our Lord and Savior.