“Behold we are going up to Jerusalem; and the Son of Man will be delivered to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn Him to death, and will deliver Him to the Gentiles to mock and scourge and crucify Him, and on the third day He will be raised up.” Matthew 20:18, 19 (New American Standard Bible)
In the story of Jesus’ passion He was whipped or ‘scouraged’ before He was nailed to a Roman cross. We mostly reason that it was just part of that ancient system of punishment and do not give it much thought outside of its brutality but it was a definite part of the redemptive plan. The Roman flagrum was a vicious multi-thonged whip that had pieces of bone, metal or glass embedded in its cords. The person being whipped was tied in such a way that their back was stretched allowing the whipping to inflict the greatest degree of pain and damage, the pieces on the cords tearing flesh and breaking bone. Mostly it was the Roman equivalent of the ‘third degree.’ As the person was whipped and they confessed their crime the one doing the whipping would go lighter on the force of the strokes. If the person would not confess then each stroke would become heavier and heavier until the person could stand it no longer and begin confessing. Many victims died from shock and loss of blood due to the whipping.
Jesus received such treatment before He was crucified. The prophet Isaiah speaks of the healing we receive by the stripes of God’s Chosen One (Isaiah 53:5). The usual interpretation is healing of a physical sort although the meaning in the context speaks of sin and spiritual healing. The beating Jesus took was intercessory. It could be considered the scourge of all mankind for it was because of our sins that that scourging ought to have been given to us. These stripes were part of the penalty for our rebellion against God, God taking the punishment on Himself in our place. Jesus Himself asked the two men on the road to Emmaus, “Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and enter into His glory?” (Luke 24:26). No other story is so ideal in its fullness and nobility. The stripes taken upon the Son of God were completely satisfactory to God’s judgment on all sin because they were taken upon Him, the one and only pure sacrifice for sin. Those stripes were planned to be taken by Him before the foundation of the world. Before you and I were born the price for our sins was in God’s mind already paid.