By: Kristina Otten
Mark 14:64-65 ESV, 15:12-20 NIV
Luke 23:34 ESV
Psalm 22:14-18 NIV
Isaiah 53:4-9 NIV
Lyrics from the song “Passion” by Kutless (4)
“Nail-pierced hands, they run with blood,
A splitting brow forced by the thorns,
His face is writhing with the pain,
Yet it’s comforting to me”
This chorus touches me in a way far different from other song lyrics. How can such immense suffering make someone feel comfort? Let’s discuss this and where it is stated throughout the Bible.
Mentioned in these lyrics, the suffering of Christ from the night following the Last Supper until His death is referred to as the Passion (3). As we know from the Gospels, the text of Jesus’ death is told from different points of view and covers several events leading up to His crucifixion. They speak about His arrest, the mocking and torture from the Roman guards, and His ultimate sacrifice on the cross. What we don’t realize from the Gospels is the amount of suffering Jesus had to endure before He was crucified.
Mark 14:64-65 “’You have heard his blasphemy. What is your decision?’ And they all condemned him as deserving death. And some began to spit on him and to cover his face and to strike him, saying to him, ‘Prophesy!’ And the guards received him with blows.”
Mark 15: 12-20 “’What shall I do, then, with the one you call the king of the Jews’” Pilate asked them. ‘Crucify him!’ they shouted. ‘Why? What crime has he committed?’ asked Pilate. But they shouted all the louder, ‘Crucify him!’ Wanting to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas to them. He had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified. The soldiers led Jesus away into the palace and called together the whole company of soldiers. They put a purple robe on him, then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on him. And they began to call out to him, ‘Hail, king of the Jews!’ Again and again they struck him on the head with a staff and spit on him. Falling on their knees, they paid homage to him. And when they had mocked him, they took off the purple robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him out to crucify him.”
From this passage, the word that must be defined to truly understand what Jesus had to endure is the word flogged. The information shared here is very intense and overwhelming, but it must be told to fully understand its meaning. Flogging was part of the preparation of a prisoner for crucifixion during ancient Roman times (2). The instrument used to flog prisoners was a whip, fashioned with broken pieces of bone, sharp rock, or iron balls tied into braids. The prisoner was stripped of his clothing. His hands were bound on top of a small pillar. The prisoner was then whipped with this wicked weapon for as long as the soldiers pleased. Afterwards, they would mock or taunt the prisoner. This is the pinnacle of the Passion that Jesus had to endure. Having to endure all of this pain, He was then forced to carry His own cross to Golgotha to be crucified for all to see.
What’s truly interesting is that Jesus’ suffering and death were prophesied in the Old Testament several times. In Psalm 22, David writes about Jesus’ suffering as if the words were written by Jesus himself. His death was also foretold in Isaiah 53. Through the writings of David and Isaiah, it makes you wonder what believers during that time thought of a savior being sent by God to save the world from sin.
Psalm 22:14-18 “I am poured out like water, and all My bones are out of joint; My heart is like wax; it has melted within Me. My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and My tongue clings to My jaws; You have brought Me to the dust of death. For dogs have surrounded Me; the congregation of the wicked has enclosed Me. They pierced My hands and My feet; I can count all My bones. They look and stare at Me. They divide My garments among them, and for My clothing they cast lots.”
Isaiah 53:4-9 “Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so He opened not His mouth. He was taken from prison and from judgment, and who will declare His generation? For He was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgressions of My people He was stricken. And they made His grave with the wicked-but with the rich at His death, because He had done no violence, nor was any deceit in His mouth.”
Now we have an understanding of the amount of pain Jesus endured before He was crucified on the cross. But the love that He gave as a sacrifice to free us from sin supersedes the beating and mocking Jesus suffered before His death. So, looking back at the song lyrics, how can knowing this treatment of the King of Kings be considered comforting? The answer is realizing that Jesus gave the ultimate sacrifice for us regardless of our sin. He endured the beating; He was nailed to a cross. For us. There have been so many times in my life when I have felt worthless, a burden, often feeling ignored by many I love. The greatest love is knowing Jesus sacrificed His life for everyone, including me. This is where the comfort holds us. And the most intriguing part is that He forgave those that tortured Him and put Him on the cross.
Luke 23:34, “And Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.’”
On the cross, He gave His forgiveness. By accepting Him and this forgiveness of the sins He died for, we are reborn in Christ. Jesus’ sacrifice is greater than any sin you have committed, no matter how big or small. Over the course of the past year, I have endured a lot of emotional and mental pain caused by traumatic experiences and a path of sin I am ashamed of. This pain is a drop in the bucket compared to the Passion of Christ. If we can accept a new mentality of how Jesus suffered so much pain to save our souls, we can be saved through a deep belief in Him.
Father God, I don’t understand how You could let Your Son endure such pain and agony, but it was necessary for the world to know You. Jesus is a necessity. He is the Way, Truth, and Life–the ONLY path to knowing Your love and righteousness. Through the acceptance of His sacrifice and the sanctification of Your Spirit we can truly form a relationship with You. This is how the comfort of the Passion joins us in a holy union with You. It hurts my soul to know the kind of pain Jesus endured before the cross, but it was for a greater purpose, and I am a part of that purpose. It is hard to explain how I feel, but it is comforting. I feel warmth and a strong will to live more for You than I have ever felt before. I pray, Father God, that this tenderness of love will remain every day for the rest of my life. Amen.
- “What Is the Passion of Christ?” by Danielle Burnock. What Is the Passion of Christ? (christianity.com) Nov 19, 2019.
- Edwards, William D. Scourging and Crucifixion In Roman Tradition. https://www.cbcg.org/scourging-crucifixion.html March 21, 1086.
- Passion Definition & Meaning – Merriam-Webster
- Kutless. “Passion.” Sea of Faces, performed by Kutless, BEC Records, 2004, track number 6. CD.