The beauty of His pain
…There is no beauty that we should desire Him…
The crowd was pressed against each other in a fevered pitch. I heard cries from the people, “Crucify him,” coming from the young and old. The word crucify brought a chill to my body, because I once saw a man crucified for murder. This man must be a murderer of people, so I assumed the people were just in their rage for this nameless man. I wanted to press further, because I wanted to get a glimpse of this guilty man. I fought my way to a position where I could see with only a few obstructions. I asked the people around whom this was, but they just ignored my request. It was as if they were in a trance of anger that blotted out reason. To my surprise, I saw our governor Pontius Pilate motioning for a man to stand next to him. I saw a man in chains with his head pointing to the ground. I was very anxious to see who this man was because it probably would be the last time to see him alive.
A bigger man who was yelling in a fierce manner, “Crucify him,” shoved me to the side! I regained my position to see the man’s face, and I fell to the ground in horror. The man they had in their grasp was Jesus! Jesus was not just a man, but He was God in the flesh. I saw Him heal a blind man, and I saw Him feed five thousand people with a young boy’s meager lunch his mother made him carry with him. This man was innocent, and I was in complete dismay that my friends were yelling for his certain death. Before I could get another view, I saw them whisk Him away. I followed the crowd to an open area where they chained Him to the whipping post. The whipping post symbolized a place of public shame and humility. They were trying to send a message to Jesus and bring public shame to Him. I heard Him say that He would remove our condemnation, but in this moment, our condemnation was being cast to His soul. I was amazed at how the people laughed and yelled at Him. The guards pulled His beard from His face, while the others ripped His clothes from His body. I saw one guard punch Jesus in the face, and He quickly fell to the ground. They immediately picked Him up to hit Him repeatedly as if they were trying to break Him in half. Like vicious dogs, the soldiers were each taking turns kicking Him and punching Him in the face and the body. Jesus remained silent, but you could hear the wind being forced from His lungs in agony. The soldiers had stripped Jesus down to almost nothing as the public shaming began to pick up momentum, and you could see their work beginning to take form on His body. They fastened His hands even tighter to the post as the anticipation began to build. I saw one soldier spit in Jesus’ face while the others began to chant at Him. I began to get angry, but before I could yell at them, they began to whip Him.
I saw the metal tear into His skin like a hot knife into butter. I saw the blood flow from His body as if it was trying to escape the whole time. When His blood hit the ground, I began to weep for Him. I saw the soldiers relentlessly beat Him until the flesh hung from His body and His insides were exposed for everyone to see. It is one thing to be naked before a crowd, but to have your inner body exposed is beyond words.
The crowd became silent because they thought Jesus was dead. Many walked away from the gruesome scene because it was simply too much for people to see. I thought His blood would quench the mob’s anger, but when Jesus gasped for air, they began to resume their verbal torment. The soldiers were physically beating Jesus while the crowd was trying to beat His soul. Their words pierced my heart and wounded me for Him! This man only gave us love, but in this moment, He was drinking the bitter cup of rage and shame. I could only imagine what He was feeling in that moment. Right when I thought He was out of all strength, He turned His face to the sky as if He was being watched by something deep within the clouds high above.
I thought the soldiers would treat Him with a little dignity since they just beat Him to the point of His death. They avoided His blood like it was poison, but one soldier had it all over His body. He was one of the ones who beat Him as if He was trying to beat every breathe of life from His body. They put an old robe around Him, so they did not have to touch His broken body. One of the soldiers made a crown out of thorns and pressed it deep into His skull. They began to mock Him as they proclaimed Him, “King of the Jews!” The blood began to flow from His ears and nose while His teeth were stained in red. His face was swollen and disfigured. Some of His teeth had been knocked out and His countenance was unrecognizable. There was no beauty in Him anymore as if in an instant all the ugliness of the world invaded His body. He simply remained silent, but you could see His lips move as if He was communicating to someone that was not physically around. Blood ran continually from His body as if it had no end. Every time someone grabbed Him, His blood would smear on them. As if, there was no escaping His bleeding body. As the soldiers waited for instructions on what to do with Him people began to gather all around piercing Him with hateful words. I angrily thought when does His suffering stop, but it just kept on going. His broken body had to be near death, but as if God Himself was sustaining Him in the moment, He kept on in a purpose.
One soldier yelled with instructions to bring Him back to Pontius Pilate. Before I could get another look at Him, He was gone. I went back to the post where He was beaten and I saw His blood and flesh on the ground. The stray dogs that roamed the streets did not even come near His blood and flesh. No one was touching it as if it was holy. It seemed like the amount of blood He lost was enough to kill one man, but He was still breathing. I thought why would He fight to live to only be driven to death. It was like a struggle between life and death, and He was not letting death enter His body. He had defeated death while it was being forced on Him. I once heard of Him bringing a man named Lazarus back to life, but I had heard of many stories like that about Jesus. He was always bringing joy and life to us, but in return, He was receiving death from the same people who celebrated His return.
As I gazed at His blood and flesh on the ground I heard the people cry, “Release Barabbas!”
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.
As I heard, the crowds cry for Barabbas, I ran to see what the outcry was all about in that emotional moment. The concept was simple, but baffling. The crowd wanted to free a thief and murderer for the innocent blood of Jesus. He was taking the place of a guilty man and taking his punishment as His own. The people declared, “Put His blood on our heads and our children!” The statement mesmerized me, because they did not care that His blood was holy or innocent. Pilate spoke, but the crowd was so loud with emotion that I could not hear his words. I observed him motioning to the soldiers, and the crowd cheered with great exhilaration. I knew what was coming next for Jesus, and it was His certain death.
The crowd gathered outside the city as two other men were brought to meet death with Jesus. As I struggled to get a glimpse of my savior, two men pushed me to the side and mocked my tears as they ran down my face with compassion. I did not try to fight the crowd, because they could turn on anyone suspected of supporting Jesus. I even heard of one of His disciple’s denying Him three times the night before this great spectacle of human cruelty. I saw the huge cross, that took three men to carry, thrown at the feet of Jesus. The soldiers pushed him to the ground to pick up that great burden. Jesus opened His eyes and as if, He became aware of the moment, He embraced the cross like it was His escape from this physical and emotional torture. I was taken back by the gesture, because in my understanding the cross meant death. Jesus treated the cross as if it was His destiny and He found new strength at its sight.
The same cross that took three soldiers to carry Jesus began to lift up. The crowd became silent at the demonstration of His strength and determination. The blood dripped from His face as He began to carry His burden to the place of the skull. The crowd began to mock the soldiers, because it took three of them to carry this cross and Jesus was carrying it Himself. The soldiers began to yell at the crowd, “Stand back before we put you with him!” The soldiers began to whip Jesus and mock Him as His strength and determination began to give way to His weakened body. The crowd began throwing stones at Jesus and began to yell uncontrollably at Him. Jesus was falling behind the pace of the soldiers, and He fell to the ground in great pain. The soldiers quickly beat Him and hit Him until He did not move. The men argued because they thought they had prematurely killed Him. This would have meant their certain death from Pilate or the crowd that had followed them with death in their eyes. Right when the soldiers were about to fight with one another, Jesus began to move and their anger turned toward Him again. The moment was overwhelming, and a group of women rushed to His side whaling in sorrow. Jesus in a soft and power tone spoke and said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children.” Then as I pressed in further to hear His words with greater clarity the crowd over took me. I fell back into the back, and I could not see Him anymore.
I thought I should just go home, because the moment seemed to pass me, but I remembered what He had done for so many. I knew if this was truly the Son of God then something great was going to happen, so I pressed on to see Him.
I fought my way back into the sight of Jesus and I saw Him fall again. The soldiers would beat Him for any reason and every time they raised their hand to beat Him, the crowd yelled with excitement. It reminded me of the stories of the games in the coliseum my father told me where men would kill each other and the crowd cheered with great excitement. It was certainly entertainment for many, but it was torture for those who loved Him. I remember seeing Him teach from a boat, and I remember Him teaching in the temple the oracles of God. Now, in this moment, this great man is being punished for a crime no one seems to know or understand, but He embraces His journey for a purpose.
I saw them take a man from the crowd to help Jesus carry His cross, because He was simply too weak to carry it anymore. The man looked at Jesus with compassion, and He helped carry His burden. The soldiers continued to beat Jesus with their whips and Hit the man helping Him as well. Everyone wanted to see this man die, but for what purpose?
They instructed the crowd to let Jesus and the man helping Him through to the spot of His crucifixion. They threw Jesus on the ground and tore His robe from His body exposing His tattered body. The crowd gasped as they gazed at the wounds of Jesus, but like ravage dogs the soldiers were determined to see their prey killed. Jesus’ body was covered in deep wounds exposing bone and organs. They had beaten Him from head to toe, and no part of His body was without wounds. They took long nails and nailed His hands to the cross. He cried in agony to only have His feet nailed too. The blood began to pour from His wounds as if the ground craved His blood. He was exposed for all to see, and when they pulled the cross into its upright position, we all just looked at Him in silence.
The hours began to pass, but time just stood still. The priests who had Him crucified walked up to the cross in their pride. They began to mock Him and taunt Him as if they had put Him on the cross with their evil words. As they were walking off Jesus said in a loud voice, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” The words of Jesus caused the crowd to become silent, and no one spoke a harsh word at Him again. The crowd began to thin out as the thirst for His blood was quenched. The soldiers began playing some sort of game for His bloody robe at the foot of His suffering. I saw one of the men crucified with Jesus speak to Him, but I could not hear His words. I saw peace come on his face after Jesus spoke to Him, as if Jesus had forgiven him of his sins that lead him to that moment. I saw a guard give Jesus sour wine, and He took it willingly. Then as if the earth was revolting against us the sky grew dark. The wind began to pick up, and the earth began to shake from under our feet. I heard Jesus say, “Eli, Eli, lama sabacthani?”
The sky began to show its disapproval as if it had been watching over Him the whole time. I heard a loud jolt from the ground and Jesus cried out, “It is finished!” The whole earth shook and the people beat their chests in approval of His death. The sky began to produce great lighting and the winds howled around us. A storm was coming I thought as they pierced His side with a spear. The blood and water flowed from His side as a final sign of death. I tried to stand and watch, but the wind was too strong. I saw His mother and John weep at His feet as they began to pull His lifeless body from the cross.
I walked over to get a glimpse of Him for the last time, but I heard Him say once that He would rise on the third day. Could He really bring Himself back to life after He brought so many others back from the grave? His body was lifeless, but you could feel something coming off Him. One solider started to weep as He said, “Truly this was the Son of God.” My anger grew at Him, because it was His ignorance that led to this moment. In that moment of anger, I remembered Jesus teaching on loving those who did not love you. I thought if I could carry His teachings in my heart, He truly would never be dead. I thought that would be His escape from death, by us remembering Him and His wisdom. I still wondered about the third day, so as I saw them carry His body to an open tomb, I vowed I would come back and see for myself if Jesus would truly conquer death.
In every season of life, we must seek to understand the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. He is the foundation to our lives. He is the way, the truth, and the life to our very existence. We must seek Him in every instance, and we must learn to love Him in the package He was presented to us on the cross. Let our pursuits be Him and let your desire be of Him. This story is to simply bring your attention to the One who loves you the most.