Sin is ugly.  In fact, God hates it!  God’s church (His Body on earth) hates sin too, but there is such a fine line for us that we sometimes end up hating the sinner instead of his sin.  God doesn’t have that problem.  He loved the sinner so much that He allowed His Son to die in their place because of ugly sin in their lives.

God allowed the ugly scene at Calvary to take place motivated by His love for us in spite of our sin.  The beauty of it is that we who have accepted God’s Love Gift have been separated from our sin, washed clean by the blood that Jesus shed at that ugly scene while bearing our sins upon Himself.

Every Christian knows that, but do we really consider what took place there on that cross?  What Jesus, as fully man while fully God, endured – for us!

A poignant report came out in the March 21, 1986 issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association that gives us a painful picture of the sufferings of Jesus.  I find it difficult to read, because of the pain it portrays; but we need to know this.  We need to remind ourselves of the price Jesus paid to spare us the awful sin-debt.

They began the article authored by William D. Edwards, MD; J. Wesley J. Gabel, MDiv; Floyd E. Hosmer, MS, AMI with this:  “…It is our intent to present not a theological treatise but rather a medically and historically accurate account of the physical death of the one called Jesus Christ.”  They draw the information in the article from a number of different credible sources.  They list more than 30 references, so this was not a frivolous article.  It was a lengthy informative treatise.  I’ve chosen the parts that will help us see the human suffering of our Lord as He took our place.  This should have been our penalty!


The Passover was observed in the upper room of a home in southwest Jerusalem after which Jesus and His disciples walked to the Mount of Olives, northeast of the city.  In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus sought His Father as He faced the greatest challenge of His life on earth.  Luke (a physician) recorded that His sweat became like “great drops of blood” (Luke 22:44) because of His anguish over the coming events.

The article notes that “Although this is a very rare phenomenon, blood sweat (hematidrosis or hemohidrosis) may occur in highly emotional states…As a result of hemorrhage into the sweat glands, the skin becomes fragile and tender…Jesus’ actual blood loss probably was minimal.  However, in the cold night air, it may have produced chills.”

Not long after midnight, Jesus was arrested by temple officials as His betrayer Judas (with a kiss!) identified Him to the officers.  Jesus was taken to the special-called night court of the political Sanhedrin before Caiaphas, the Jewish high priest, and found guilty of the serious crime of blasphemy.

The guards blindfolded Jesus, spat on Him and even struck Him in the face with their fists.  Then Jesus was tried before the religious Sanhedrin (with the Pharisees and the Sadducees) and was again found guilty of blasphemy, a crime punishable by death.


The Jews could not carry out the execution without permission from the governing Romans, so Jesus was taken early in the morning to the governor, Pontius Pilate, in order to procure permission to carry out their conspiratorial plan to kill Jesus.  Their charges against Jesus changed to appeal to Pilate; Jesus was accused of insurrection because He claimed to be a king who would undermine the rule of Rome.  Pilate made no charges and send them on to the tetrarch of Judea, Herod Antipas.

Herod as well made no official charges and returned them to Pilate who knew there were no legal charges worthy of the death the temple officials were demanding.  It was at the urging of the mob that had gathered and been stirred by the temple gang that Pilate gave Jesus over to them to be scourged and crucified.  He symbolically washed his hands of the verdict and punishment, but it was his consent that allowed it to happen.


Looking at the scene from where Jesus was, we see that for the past twelve hours, he had been betrayed, arrested, abused by the arresting officers, suffered great emotional stress in the Garden, abandoned by his closest friends and was beaten after the first trial.  Remember too that He had had no sleep, no food and had been forced to walk more than two and a half miles to the various trials. 

Let’s look at the scourging that Pilate ordered, which was typical procedure before a Roman crucifixion.  The instrument used was a short whip with several single or braided leather thongs of variable lengths, in which small iron balls or sharp pieces of sheep bones were tied at intervals.  Sometimes staves were used.  Jesus was stripped of His clothes, His hands tied behind His back and then He was tied to a post.

The Journal reports it this way:  “The back, buttocks and legs were flogged either by two soldiers or by one who alternated positions.  The severity of the scourging…was intended to weaken the victim to a state just short of collapse or death.”  After the scourging, Jesus was humiliated and taunted by the soldiers.  The report continues with this:  “As the Roman soldiers repeatedly struck the victim’s back with full force, the iron balls would cause deep contusions, and the leather thongs and sheep bones would cut into the skin and subcutaneous tissues…as the flogging continued, the lacerations would tear into the underlying skeletal muscles and produce quivering ribbons of bleeding flesh.  Pain and blood loss generally set the stage for circulatory shock.” 


The Roman soldiers amused themselves by mocking Jesus as they placed a robe on His bleeding shoulders and pressed a crown made of thorns on His head.  They placed a staff in His hand as a scepter and then they spat on Him and hit Him on the head with the staff.  Imagine the pain when they ripped the robe from His torn shoulders reopening the wounds made by the scourging!

In His weakened condition, Jesus was compelled to carry the crossbar (patibulum) of His own cross.  The 75-125 pound crossbar was placed across the nape of His neck; His arms were stretched out, pulling at the torn flesh on His shoulders, and His hands were tied to the bar.  Naked, He was forced to walk toward the hillside where the permanent upright part of the cross (stipes) awaited the final act of crucifixion.  The Bible records that Jesus was so weak from the scourging and abuse by the soldiers that a man named Simon was compelled to carry the patibulum for Him to the place of the crucifixion.

Jesus was thrown on the ground on His aching, bleeding back again tearing open the wounds now contaminated with dirt as they prepared Him for the final act of the crucifixion.  With His arms outstretched, His wrists were nailed to the patibulum.  From the article:  “Although a nail in either location in the wrist might pass between the bony elements and thereby produce no fractures, the likelihood of painful periosteal injury would seem great…the driven nail would crush or sever the rather large sensorimotor median nerve…would produce excruciating bolts of fiery pain in both arms.”

His feet were “fixed to the front of the stipes by an iron five- to seven-inch square-shank spike driven through the first or second intermetartarsal space…It is likely that the deep peroneal nerve and branches of the medial and lateral plantar nerves would have been injured by the nails.”


The article mentions something that I never even imagined to increase the horror that Jesus suffered—the buzzing insects that attempted to light upon or burrow into the open wounds or even His eyes, ears and nose; the birds of prey tearing at the wounds.

Beyond all the excruciating pain of the crucifixion was the interference to Jesus’ breathing, especially when He exhaled.  From the article:  “…the weight of the body, pulling down on the outstretched arms and shoulders, would tend to fix the intercostal muscles in an inhalation state and thereby hinder passive exhalation…breathing was shallow...muscle cramps or titanic contractions, due to fatigue and hypercarbia, would hinder respiration even further.  Adequate exhalation required lifting the body by pushing up on the feet and by flexing the elbows and adducting the shoulders….would place the entire weight of the body on the tarsals and would produce searing pain.”

“Lifting of the body would also painfully scrape the scourged back against the rough wood…each respiratory effort would become agonizing, tiring and lead eventually to asphyxia.” 

The article went on to say “Other possible contributing factors…dehydration, arrhythmias, congestive heart failure.”  While physically this was an accurate account, we know that it was our sins that killed Him!  All that the “ugly picture” portrays was to have been ours had He not freely subjected Himself to the cruel punishment and shame of the cross in our place. 


How can anyone ignore such Love?  How can we not increase our efforts to let others know what Jesus did for them?  It would require more pages here to tell the rest of the story and fill in the physical, mental and emotional agonies and excruciating pain that He bore – for us!  But let us concentrate on just this much and be ever so thankful for what we have because of what Jesus did.

The depth of Jesus’ physical, mental and emotional suffering is hard, painful to think on; but it wasn’t the worse part of what He bore.  Penalty for sin is separation from God.  To me that would be the greatest horror I could imagine.  Remember what Jesus cried from the cross, “My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46).  In His heart, He knew; but in His flesh as a man, He experienced the vacuum without God.  I find that breathtaking—to be in that vacuum!  Whatever hell will be like, that surely must be the worse part of it, being separated from the presence of God!


The suffering is the “ugly” part.  It’s also the necessary part, but the story doesn’t end there.  The beautiful part is that we don’t have to go through the “ugly” phase; it’s behind us because of what Jesus did.  You see, the beauty is that the cross was not the end of the story.

After Jesus was placed in the tomb, filling their hearts with the sorrow of His death, His followers retreated to mourn.  The “Son” whose light they had walked in and given their lives to had set, and now it was midnight for them.  It was all over; their hopes and dreams dashed to pieces.


Ah! But it was not over!  On that glorious resurrection morning, the “Son” again rose!  The brightest day in the history of the world had dawned.  Redemption had been purchased with a price that none of us could ever have paid, and we were handed a document “Sin Debt Canceled”!  All the suffering was over; the enemy conquered; we were free and Jesus reigned over death, hell and the grave—forever! 

Hallelujah!  Rejoice and share the good news!

The “Son” has risen!

Delores Adams
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