Sunday, July 17, 2005
The Scourging at the Pillar--Part Three of the Seven Bloodsheddings of Christ  

The month of July is set aside for special devotion to the Precious Blood of Jesus. One of the devotions associated with the Precious Blood, is a meditation on the seven references in Scripture to the shedding of Christ's blood. In this third installment, I would like to reflect on the Lord's shedding of His blood in the scourging at the pillar.
Then Pilate took Jesus and scourged him. (John 19:1)
These few words suffice to cover the horrible treatment which our Lord received at the hands of the soldiers who were given the task of scourging Him. The practice was to take a man and tie both of his hands to a pillar. Then the soldiers would flog him by striking him over and over with a whip. The whip had a stiff handle to which were attached about nine strips of leather. At the end of these pieces of leather were pieces of bone or metal. With each strike, the sharp points of these objects would dig into the flesh on the one who was being flogged. Although Jewish practice was to limit scourging to forty minus one strikes, the Romans did not place any such limits. Despite the fact that for the Romans scourging was to be a preparation for crucifixion, often the one being whipped died because of the severity of the whipping.
As many were astonished at him--his appearance was so marred, beyond human semblance, and his form beyond that of the sons of men (Is. 52:14)

But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; upon him was the chatisement that made us whole, and with his stripes we are healed. (Is. 53:5)
These verses from Isaiah's Servant of the Lord song (Is. 52:13-53:12) speaks of the Passion of our Lord. The Passion has begun in earnest at His scourging. He is whipped, with his flesh torn to the point that he no longer looks like a person. His blood streams from the countless wounds. It pours over Him and it falls to the ground.

In a mysterious way through the beating He suffers, we are healed. The Lord accepts this evil treatment out of love for His creatures. And from this most awful evil, He brings the greatest good of salvation. This mystery of salvation is found in this scourging. From profound suffering, comes deep healing. We who are broken and alienated from God are brought into communion with Him through His suffering and the shedding of His Precious Blood. He willingly gives all of Himself, including His life blood, in order that we could have Him. This is the love of God made manifest in the Incarnation: Flesh and blood taken on by our Lord only that He might give it up for us.

Next Installment: The Crowning with Thorns

Previous Posts:

The Circumcision

The Agony in the Garden

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