According to the New Testament, Jesus was flogged or whipped many times during his crucifixion. While the exact number of whippings is not mentioned, we know he underwent a brutal Roman scourging as part of the punishment leading up to him on the cross. Let’s explore the biblical accounts of Jesus and the whippings he endured.
Scourging in the Old Testament
In the Old Testament, scourging or whipping only comes up in a few instances as it was a form of Roman punishment, not Jewish. When mentioned, it’s a form of punishment or discipline for wrongdoing. One example can be found in Proverbs 19:29, “Penalties are prepared for mockers, and beatings for the backs of fools.”
However, it’s essential to recognize that the story of Jesus and his crucifixion, including the accounts of his flogging, is found primarily in the New Testament Gospels related to Jesus’s arrest, trial, and crucifixion. Scourging was a form of punishment used by various civilizations, including the Romans, during ancient times. Although, this practice among Romans was not mentioned in the Old Testament, as it covers events and history before the rise of the Roman Empire.
In the context of the Old Testament, whipping or flogging as a form of punishment was known and used by various cultures during the time, including the ancient Egyptians, Babylonians, Persians, and others. It was a common method to inflict physical pain and punishment for crimes or disobedience. The Roman Empire, which came into existence much later, adopted and refined scouring during its rule. By the time of the New Testament, the practice was well-known to the Jewish people under Roman rule.
Was Jesus whipped 39 times?
Before Jesus’ crucifixion, the Romans subjected Him to scourging, as stated in:
Matthew 27:26 – “Then he released for them Barabbas and having scourged Jesus, delivered him to be crucified.”
Mark 15:15 – “So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released for them Barabbas and having scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified.”
Luke 23:16 – “I will therefore punish and release him [Jesus].”
John 19:1 – “Then Pilate took Jesus and flogged him.”
The Bible does not specify the exact number of lashes Jesus received during the scourging. However, it is worth noting that Jewish tradition limited the number of lashes to 39 to avoid potentially violating the commandment in Deuteronomy 25:3, which forbade giving more than forty lashes. Even the Apostle Paul said in 2 Corinthians 11:24 that he received thirty-nine lashes from the Jews on five occasions.
However, it’s essential to recognize that Jesus was flogged by the order of Pontius Pilate, a Roman authority, not by the Jews. Pilate ordered Jesus to be flogged before carrying out the crucifixion, indicating the severity of Jesus’ suffering leading up to His death on the cross. For floggings, the Romans used a whip called a “flagrum,” which had multiple leather thongs, each tipped with metal or bone, to inflict severe pain and suffering.
The number of lashes matters less than the undeniable fact that the scourging was a harrowing and agonizing ordeal. Yet, in the midst of this suffering, Jesus’ sacrificial death brought about life for every sinner — every person on earth. Jesus did so willingly to save us from our own impending suffering. As such, the crucifixion of Jesus holds profound significance in Christian theology, as it represents His sacrificial love and atonement for the sins of humanity. The focus of recording in the New Testament focuses on the biblical accounts of the message of Jesus’ crucifixion and not the exact mention of whippings.
How many wounds did Jesus suffer during His crucifixion?
During Jesus’ crucifixion, he endured profound physical suffering and multiple wounds. Scriptures reveal the agonizing process Jesus went through. First, he was nailed to the cross, with wounds inflicted on his hands and feet.
Before the crucifixion itself, Jesus faced cruel mockery and torment. Matthew 27:29 says that soldiers wove a crown of thorns and placed it on His head, causing deep wounds on His scalp and forehead. Mark 15:15 records the severe scourging with a flagrum. This act alone caused deep wounds on Jesus’ back, often shredding the skin and muscles underneath.
Furthermore, the very act of crucifixion itself caused immense pain and trauma as He was suspended on the cross by nails in His hands and feet. This would have caused excruciating pain and strain on his body. Even taking a breath would have been an anguishing process. The Gospel of John further records a Roman soldier piercing Jesus’ side with a spear, which would have caused severe internal bleeding along with His other inflictions.
What do we know about the scourging of Jesus?
The scourging of Jesus is a significant and painful event marking a new age of sins being covered by the blood of Jesus. Roman scourging was an exceptionally harsh and brutal punishment, involving not just lashes but bits of bone or metal cutting through the skin. The punishment was intended to inflict maximum pain and humiliation on the victim.
Jesus experienced this torment along with other punishments, such as the crown of thorns and carrying His cross to show that He was being punished for His claim of God’s throne. While the Bible does not give the exact number of lashes, it does mention the mockery from the crowd and soldiers to add to His humiliation and suffering.
Finally, the scourging of Jesus represents the depth of His sacrificial love and is the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies regarding the Messiah’s suffering for humanity’s sins. This event is the cornerstone of salvation today for every man, woman, and child. Jesus died this horribly anguishing death so we would not have to bear the consequences of our sins.
What does it mean that “by His stripes we are healed”?
The phrase “by His stripes we are healed” comes from the Old Testament book of Isaiah. Verse 53:5 says, “But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds, we are healed.” In this passage, Isaiah speaks of the Messiah’s suffering and the redemptive purpose of His wounds. The stripes and wounds point to the physical punishment and suffering the Messiah endured for the sake of humanity.
The verse foreshadows the death of Jesus on the cross and that His wounds served as the atonement for the sins of humanity. However, many misinterpret the verse to mean spiritual or physical healing. Instead, the verse is a prophecy of the punishment the Messiah would take for His people.
Remember the Gospel
Remember, the Gospel speaks to Christians, calling them to reflect on and hold fast to the foundational message of Jesus Christ’s life, death, and resurrection as recorded in the New Testament. The Gospel, which means “good news,” is the central message of Christianity, emphasizing God’s love, redemption, and salvation for all through faith in Jesus.
Through Jesus’ crucifixion, He took on the sin of man and offered a bridge to God by offering forgiveness and reconciliation. His resurrection from the dead signifies His victory over sin and death, providing hope for eternal life for those who believe in Him. With His death, Jesus invites us to embrace the transformative power of His sacrifice in our lives, knowing that death will not hold us.
In conclusion, while the Bible does not give us an exact number of times Jesus was whipped before He reached the cross, we do know Jesus suffered greatly for our sins. The biblical narrative emphasizes the significance of His sacrifice and the redemptive purpose rather than focusing on specific details. Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross was the punishment needed to provide salvation for everyone on earth.