He was despised and forsaken of men, A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; And like one from whom men hide their face He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. Surely our griefs He Himself bore, And our sorrows He carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, Smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed.
The last sentence in the above verse is the caption, the first frame in Mel Gibson’s movie, The Passion of the Christ. Since it is Good Friday it is time to say that this is a film that every serious Christian should watch. This is one Hollywood creation that is a masterpiece depicting the last hours in the life of Jesus Christ. Its probably not an understatement to say that most of us have an inadequate picture of what it took for our Lord to endure the gauntlet that resulted in His death. We read in all four Gospels that He was mistreated by the Roman soldiers, and that the implements of torture could seem brutal. But until we have to visually face the depiction of scourging with our own eyes and not just some cold text on a page, it is just some abject event. The visual facilitates a direct and powerful impact on the soul.
Personally I think the brutality seen in the film is perhaps a little overdone. That is, if a human really was so brutalized as the movie shows death would have come well before He had to pick up His cross. But maybe not. Maybe it really was as bad as seen in the film. In either case the flogging, beating, and whipping were more than any mortal would have voluntarily endured. And yet from inception He knew what would be the final act in His earthly ministry. And knowing all this He walked with self-assurance, though with a great amount of trepidation, towards what the writer of Hebrews calls “joy,” “who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Heb. 12:2
He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He did not open His mouth; Like a lamb that is led to slaughter, And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, So He did not open His mouth. Isaiah 53:7
In the Garden of Gethsemane He was so distraught He asked His Father if this cup could pass. “And being in agony He was praying very fervently; and His sweat became like drops of blood, falling down upon the ground.” Luke 22:44 That amount of distress is inconceivable to us. But still He kept to His path to attain to His objective. There is no evidence that He wavered in the slightest other than this prayer. Because He knew what would be the fruit of this act.
By oppression and judgment He was taken away; And as for His generation, who considered That He was cut off out of the land of the living For the transgression of my people, to whom the stroke was due? Isaiah 53:8
And because He was faithful (Heb. 3:5-6), He has purchased for us in the most extravagant and expensive manner what is a completely free gift – our redemption. And this gift which cost Him everything, is made available to everyone, if only they reach out and take it. This gift the result of unspeakable suffering which rightly should have been ours to partake, instead of a perfectly innocent man, but ours none the less because God so loved the world.
But the LORD was pleased To crush Him, putting Him to grief; If He would render Himself as a guilt offering, He will see His offspring, He will prolong His days, And the good pleasure of the LORD will prosper in His hand. Isaiah 53:10
I suppose pleased is a word that pertains only to knowing the objective of the death and resurrection of His only Son, and not to to the physical act itself. The objective, rescuing humanity from the bondage of sin, is what was foreshadowed ever since Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden. All the suffering, terror, and horror of these thousands of years have their terminus in the passion of the Christ, which in itself is a foretaste of the final glory when creation itself is set free from its bondage. And that is something to rejoice about. “So, let us go out to Him outside the camp, bearing His reproach. For here we do not have a lasting city, but we are seeking the city which is to come.” Heb. 13:13
[Scriptures taken from the New American Standard Bible © 1995]