The sentence is a simple one. Pilate took Jesus and scourged Him. Within that small and simple sentence, lies a great deal of information.
The public action of beating, known as scourging, in the Roman world was vastly different from the Jewish world. For the Jewish nation, the regulation was set by God. A convicted man was struck at a maximum of forty times. However, if a man was struck more than forty times, then the person lashing the other would also receive forty stripes. For most people, the sentence would be “forty lash save one.”
The Roman world was not the same. There were no regulations on the number of stripes. When Roman scourging occurred, a man could have been beaten into submission or he could have been beaten to death. It would depend on the man known as the Lictor. The Lictor was in charge of the punishment known as Scourging. A variety of instruments were used, from switches or small rods to a flagrum. The Latin word flagrum literally means a source of widespread dreadful affliction or devastation. In the scourging process the flagrum was a small whip about 30 inches in length. This whip normally had several lashes hanging off of one handle. It also had foreign objects imbedded into its lashes. Objects like iron balls for bruising purposes, glass or bone for cutting purposes. It was not too uncommon for a scourging victim to actually die during this process.
The case of the scourging of Jesus was a little different from most cases. The process begins. This beating finally ends. As Pilate and Jesus are stand before the crowd, Pilate told the crowd to “Behold the man.” Look at Him. Beaten. Battered. Bloody. According to Isaiah 52, His visage was so marred, He would be unrecognizable. Let those words sink into your mind. Not the fact that He would not be able to be picked out of a line up, but rather that Jesus would be beaten to a point that He would be unrecognizable as a human! Look at Him! Beaten to a point where it would turn our stomachs. I can imagine the metallic smell of blood when I see Him in my mind’s eye.
Out of the 82 verses in John that would make up the process of Jesus’ death, we only explored one verse. The trauma found in John 19:1 is devastating, and Jesus was yet to be nail to that cross for my sins.