Scourge and Cross

The scourging of Jesus by Pilate and the soldiers was delivered as punishment.

But Jesus accepted it as a means of purification; not for his sins, but for ours.

Scourge and Cross

Scourge and Cross

A horse is whipped to make it run faster, a dog is beaten to hasten toilet-training, and other animals might be physically slapped around to force submission. Consequently as a punishment, scourging of humans is considered by modern society as barbaric and degrading.

In most countries today, corporal punishment is banned in schools, prisons and the military, and frowned upon by society as rather kinky. For an alternative punishment, deprivation of freedom is considered more in keeping with modern thought – freedom being valued higher than dignity, and therefore degrading punishment is not necessary.

Symbolic and ritual scourging, however, is still used - not as punishment, but as a means of purification. It is a rite to rid the person of evil spirits and used to be part of exorcisms.

Even Jesus administered whipping to the traders and money-changers in the temple (John 2:14-16) to beat away their evil deeds. The market included the sale of doves for religious purposes. Benefitting financially from Divine offices is wrong. 

Other biblical references to scourging away evil include: Lev. 19:20, Deut. 22:18, 25:2-3, Prov. 20:30, Job 30, Heb. 12:6-10, Acts 7:57-60, 21:26-31. Such religious flagellation has been administered by a priest or self-inflicted.

The scourging of Jesus, however, was not for purification. The beating he received prior to crucifixion was the type meted out to animals to enforce submission. As a punishment, 39 lashes were the norm because Jewish law stated that no more than 40 lashes could be given, so 39 ensured the law was not broken. Jesus, however, was given 40 lashes to emphasize that the punishment was under Roman law and not religious purification under Jewish law.

It was brutal and the scourge would have been a rod, chain or lash. Lashes were whips of rope or leather containing barbs, stones or nails. Jesus prophesised that He would be beaten and his first scourging was just before the death sentence was passed. It was inflicted by Pilate and probably severe in an attempt to satisfy the accusers and avoid any demand for further punishment.

As one of the implements representing the Arms of Christ, the scourge is a reminder of the beating Jesus received. 

As prophesised, Jesus was beaten and then crucified to atone for our sins.

Commercially run gift-shops are still seen in today's cathedrals and churches

Matt. 20:19, Mark 10:34 and Luke 18:32

Matt. 27:26-30, and marked as a Station of the Cross

Isa. 53:5 and 1 Pet. 2:24-25


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