The most beautiful one in the universe was made vile in the sight of God and man for you and me.
“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 ESV)
Forty stripes he may give him, and not exceed: lest, if he should exceed, and beat him above these with many stripes, then thy brother should seem vile unto thee. (KJV)
Jewish law limited a whipping to 40 stripes that the guilty would not “be degraded” or “seem vile” in the sight of his brothers. But the Romans who scourged Jesus would not have cared about Jewish law or sparing a Jew from being degraded or vile in anyone’s sight. Roman scourging was so horrific that Roman citizens were exempt from it. The one scourged was usually stripped and bent over or tied to a post, then beaten by one or more “lictors” who used “flagellums” or “flagrums” – whips with 2 or 3 leather strands about 3 feet long with pieces of bone or lead balls attached every few inches, which would shred the skin, exposing bones and organs. The lictors determined the number of lashes. They weren’t generally supposed to kill the ones whipped, but often they died on the post or shortly afterwards. The loss of blood by Jesus was probably what left him so weak he was unable to carry his cross.
Jewish law limited the stripes so the guilty one would not be “degraded in your sight” or “seem vile unto thee.” Jesus was degraded and made vile in the sight of men. But more significant, he was made despicable in the sight of God:
2 CO 5:21 says that God “made him to be sin,” the most abhorrent, disgusting, despicable thing in God’s sight. In his perfect righteousness God will not even “look at” sin, or tolerate it in his presence, as he says in Habakkuk 1:3 “You who are of purer eyes than to see evil and cannot look at wrong…”
When Jesus took our sin and our scourging, he was degraded both in the sight of God and men. Here’s why he endured such suffering:
But he was pierced for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his wounds we are healed. Isaiah 53:5
Jesus was made vile in the sight of God and man, so we could be made beautiful in God’s sight. He rejoices and exults over us with “gladness” and “loud singing” (Zephaniah 3:17) and he looks on us who believe in Jesus as the apple of his eye, as David prays in Psalm 17:8 “Keep me as the apple of your eye”
Jesus was made vile in the sight of God and man, so we could be made beautiful in God’s sight.
God sees us who believe in Christ, clothed with the righteousness of Christ, and he is pleased with us and rejoices over us. All because Jesus was willing to be made despicable in God’s sight when he was scourged and crucified. What a glorious Savior we have!