Matthew 27:26; Mark 15:15; Luke 23:16, 22; John 19:1
The Story in Brief
Judas led an armed crowd to the Garden of Gethsemane to arrest Jesus, Who was subsequently brought before the high priest and council, Herod, and Pontius Pilate. Peter, who was standing in the courtyard waiting to hear the results of the trials, denied Jesus three times exactly as Jesus had predicted. The Jews called for Jesus' crucifixion, but Pilate was unwilling. He offered to release Jesus according to the custom of the Jewish feast, but the Jews chose Barabbas instead and continued to insist that Jesus be crucified. Pilate finally gave in, symbolically washed his hands of the matter, and turned Jesus over to the Roman soldiers to be scourged and executed.
Points to Ponder
1. Because the actual scourging of Jesus at the pillar takes up only one verse in Matthew, Mark, and John and receives two brief references in Luke, you may wish to spend some time meditating on the events leading up the scourging. Carefully read Matthew 26:47 – 27:26; Mark 14:43 – 15:15; Luke 22:47 – 23:25; and John 18:1 – 19:6, and ponder some of the points below.
2. Think about the scene of Jesus' betrayal. Consider the following: how the crowd comes to arrest Jesus with swords and clubs; Judas' betraying kiss; Jesus' response of “Friend, do what you are here to do”; the crowd's reaction when Jesus said “I AM”; the meaning of “I AM”; the altercation between Peter and the high priest's servant; the healing of the servant's ear; Jesus' acceptance of His arrest so that the “Scriptures be fulfilled”; and the disciples' desertion
3. Meditate on Jesus' trial before the high priest. Consider the following: the false testimony against Jesus; Jesus' silence in the face of the accusations; Jesus' testimony of “From now on you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven”; the high priest's verdict; and the abuse Jesus receives at the hands of the Jews
4. Ponder Peter's denial of Jesus. Consider the following: the reasons for Peter's denial; Jesus' prediction and response; Peter's violent outburst; and Peter's remorse.
5. Think about Jesus' trial before Pilate. Consider the following: the Jews' accusations; Pilate's questions to Jesus; Jesus' silence in the face of His accusers; the dream of Pilate's wife; Jesus' words to Pilate about the kingdom in John's Gospel; the Jews' choice of Barabbas; Pilate's fear; Pilate's verdict of “not guilty”; how Pilate caved in to the Jews when they implied that if he were to let Jesus go, he would be betraying Caesar; the Jews' claim that they had no king but Caesar and their cries to crucify Jesus; and how Pilate washed his hands of the matter and declared himself innocent of Jesus' blood.
6. Reflect on Jesus' trial before Herod in Luke's Gospel. Consider the following: why Luke includes this scene; Jesus' silence; the mockery and abuse Jesus endured; and how Herod sent Jesus back to Pilate dressed in an elegant robe.
7. Ponder the manner in which Jesus was scourged. Roman soldiers lashed Him repeatedly with a whip that probably had at least two “tails” tipped with metal balls. The Jews limited their scourgings to thirty-nine lashes, but the Romans did not. For more detailed information about the scourging, see this website. Please be warned; it contains disturbing material.
8. Reflect on Jesus' extreme pain, and remember that He suffered that pain because of our sins.
9. Consider how strong Jesus' love was. He loved His tormentors even as they scourged Him. And He loves us even when we sin.
10. Is there any pain that Jesus cannot understand?
11. Remember that Jesus could have stopped the scourging, and the entire Passion, at any point. He was and is God. But He chose to suffer it for our sake, to save us, and bring us home to Heaven to be with Him forever. Ponder this amazing truth.
12. Place yourself in the sandals of those who witnessed the scourging. What did they see? How did they react?
1. How have you betrayed Jesus throughout your life? Have you repented of your sins and confessed them? Do you understand that Jesus forgives you and loves you even when you do betray Him?
2. How do you respond when you are falsely accused by someone?
3. In what ways have you, like Peter, denied Jesus? How did you feel afterward?
4. Have you ever been influenced to do something you knew was wrong? Have you ever followed the crowd instead of your conscience? Why did you do so? How did you feel afterward?
5. Do you truly realize, do you truly understand, what Jesus endured for you?
6. How should you respond to Jesus' self-giving love?
7. Do you realize that Jesus completely understands your pain? How might this realization change your relationship with Him and your view of the sufferings in your own life?
Prayer, Prayer, and More Prayer
Blessing and Adoration – We bow our heads in silent adoration before You, our suffering Jesus. We adore You and we bless You, for You suffered unspeakable pain and anguish for our sake. How can we ever truly grasp Your wondrous love for us, Lord?
Praise – Jesus, we praise You for Your great courage and love. You stood silently before Your accusers and allowed Yourself to be abused and scourged. You could have stopped it all at any moment, but You chose to continue out of love for us. May Your praises ring out in Heaven and earth, Lord Jesus!
Thanksgiving – Lord, how can we ever thank You enough? You were betrayed, denied, and abused by the ones You love. You suffered for us. You bore the pain and anguish of our sin. And You did it all willingly that we may be with You in Heaven forever. How can we ever thank You enough, Lord?
Intercession – Lord, we lift up to You all those in pain. Comfort them and strengthen them, Lord. We lift up those who even today do not recognize You as the divine Son. Touch their hearts that they may know You, Lord. We lift up those who are tempted to bow to the will of the crowd instead of following their consciences. Give them courage, Lord. We lift up those who are physically abused. Hold them closely in Your arms and protect them, Lord. We lift up their abusers. Change their hearts and ways, Lord.
Petition – Jesus, help us always to remember that no matter what we must suffer, You are always there beside us, and You understand fully what we are going through. Help us to turn to You for strength and courage and self-control. Forgive us our sins, Lord as we fall before You in sorrow and repentance.
Quotes from the Saints
“It should be known that Pilate administered the Roman law, which enacted that every one who was crucified should first be scourged. Jesus then is given up to the soldiers to be beaten, and they tore with whips that most holy body and capacious bosom of God. This was done that we might be delivered from those stripes of which it is said, Many stripes shall be to the wicked. ” - St. Jerome
“See the Lord is made ready for the scourge, see now it descends upon Him! That sacred skin is torn by the fury of the rods; the cruel might of repeated blows lacerates His shoulders. Ah me! God is stretched out before man, and He, in whom not one trace of sin can be discerned, suffers punishment as a malefactor.” - St. John Chrysostom
“When the Jews had cried out that they did not wish Jesus to be released on account of the passover, but Barabbas, Then Pilate therefore took Jesus, and scourged Him. Pilate seems to have done this for no reason but to satisfy the malice of the Jews with some punishment short of death. On which account he allowed his band to do what follows, or perhaps even commanded them.” - St. Augustine