I used to wonder how JESUS could have passed on the cross so quickly. Besides the lack of O2 and the spear in His side when this was done He had already passed at that point.
Like most of us, coming from a society where flogging is not the norm (and should never be!), where as a child a switch on the rear for bad behavior or the strap at school was the norm. I never understood but after seeing the movie “The Passion” and photos like these, one can see that major body trauma from the lashing alone, would expedite our LORD's death on that cross.
As the reference of 40 lashes was actually the maximum that any man could receive in Jewish law and it was always done very careful not to exceed 40 but no one ever said what lashing was really like. Forty lashes were done to never risk breaking in Jewish Law at the time, for it was the LORD GOD's Commandment. This is why it is said "forty lashes less one" or thirty-nine and we often infer this number to the lashes that JESUS received.
A sentencing judge or a witness would count the strikes as they fell; and in case someone made a mistake they stopped at 39 and the administered whippings in the synagogues for certain offenses, these were mild in comparison to scourging.
So why did Pilate have Jesus scourged? Roman law required capital sentences to be accompanied by scourging, the decision to scourge JESUS was made before it was determined that he would be crucified. After JESUS was scourged, Pilate attempted to release him. Only when this small crowd threatened riot causing possibly the whole city to riot, at this suggestion did Pilate allow JESUS to be crucified and then, still in my opinion reluctantly. It seems that Pilate had two things in mind. First, it may be that Pilate, while he was unable to find out exactly what Jesus had done to cause this crowd to be so angry with him, suspected that JESUS was at least a troublemaker and had probably done something to deserve a flogging. It was Pilate’s job to keep and enforce peace in his region of the empire, so he probably felt no guilt at having JESUS scourged for having caused such an uproar. Second, Pilate hoped that if he humiliated JESUS enough this mob would be satisfied and he would not have to execute a man he believed to be innocent. He stood the scourged JESUS before the mob wearing a crown of thorns and a mock robe. Pilate told them, “Behold, the man!” by this he meant; “Look at him now. He will not go around calling himself a King any more and He will not cause you any more trouble!”
However, this mob was not satisfied with only a humiliated JESUS, they demanded His death…
Scourging, called verberatio by the Romans was possibly the worst kind of flogging administered by ancient courts. Scourging unlike crucifixion was not normally a form of execution, but it certainly was brutal enough to be fatal in many cases. A person certainly could be beaten to death by the scourge if that was desired. Its purpose was not only to cause great pain, but also like crucifixion, to humiliate as well. It was belittling, debasing, and demeaning. It was considered such a degrading form of punishment that, according to Roman laws, Roman citizens were exempt from it. It was, therefore, the punishment appropriate only for slaves and non-Romans, those who were viewed as the lesser elements in Roman society. To make it as humiliating as possible, scourging was carried out in public. The instrument used to deliver this form of punishment was called in Latin a flagellum or a flagrum. This was much different from the bull whip that is more commonly known in our culture. Can you believe, I had a Great Grandfather who used a bull whip to punish his kids and I thought the school strap was bad?
It was instead more like the old British cat o’ nine tails, except that the flagellum was not designed merely to bruise or leave welts on the victim. The flagellum was a whip with several (at least three) thongs or strands, each perhaps as much as three feet long, and the strands were weighted with lead balls or pieces of bone. This instrument was designed to lacerate. The weighed thongs struck the skin so violently that it broke open and tore flesh. There are many recounts with vivid, horrible detail a scene of scourging. For example here is one; “For they say that the bystanders were struck with amazement when they saw them lacerated with scourges even to the innermost veins and arteries, so that the hidden inward parts of the body, both their bowels and their members, were exposed to view! Now I finally know how our LORD died so quickly on the cross and I also understand as so did JESUS, for He knew as He spoke His death of what was to come…
These thoughts came to me from a photo post from a friend.