“If there is a dispute between men and they come into court and the judges decide between them, acquitting the innocent and condemning the guilty, then if the guilty man deserves to be beaten, the judge shall cause him to lie down and be beaten in his presence with a number of stripes in proportion to his offense. Forty stripes may be given him, but not more, lest, if one should go on to beat him with more stripes than these, your brother be degraded in your sight.” — Deuteronomy 25:1-3
How merciful God is in dealing with his people. A convicted man was to be whipped in the presence of the judge. But he was only to be given a number of strokes in proportion to his crime. The maximum he could receive was 40 stripes, so that he would not be degraded in the sight of his brother.
Some crimes might have deserved more than 40 strokes, but God in his kindness didn’t want to see anyone humiliated in front of his brothers.
But he did not show the same mercy toward his Son.
“Then he released for them Barabbas, and having scourged Jesus, delivered him to be crucified.” – MT 27:26
The ESV footnote for the word “scourged” says: “A Roman judicial penalty, consisting of a severe beating with a multi-lashed whip containing imbedded pieces of bone and metal.” These cruel whips would literally shred the skin of one’s back and sides.
God, who would spare a guilty man from excessive whipping so he wouldn’t be humiliated in front of his brother, did not spare Jesus from degradation. How dehumanizing it was when the Roman soldiers mercilessly whipped him, crowned him with thorns, draped a purple robe over his shoulders, placed a reed in his hands for a scepter, then bowed before him paying him mock homage. How degrading as they struck him and spit in his face. How degrading it was when they stripped him in front of everyone than crucified him like a criminal. How humiliating it was for Jesus to hang there gasping for air, while the crowd mocked and laughed at him in his suffering.
And Jesus endured the ultimate degradation of becoming so identified with our sin that his own Father turned away in disgust and loathing and poured out his wrath upon him.
He did all that for guilty sinners — those who truly deserved to be degraded. But when we call upon Jesus, instead of receiving the degradation we deserve, he clothes us with his righteousness and crowns us with glory. What kind of God do we serve?
May I be willing to be humiliated for Jesus. May I be willing to suffer, to be thought poorly of, or to be mocked for the one who was degraded for me.
Illustration: The Flagellation of Christ