Did Jesus Suffer?

Yes Jesus suffered! He suffered unimaginably and it is important that we understand the extent of his suffering before and the cross and while on the cross. While his death and subsequent resurrection is what we usually focus on it is the suffering that really brings home the commitment he had to endure the cross until death. It is the suffering that wrenches us. It is nothing short of torture. Mel Gibson’s movie, The Passion depicted his suffering accurately.

From Roman records we know that crucifixion was sometimes preceded by beatings with a flagram (leather strips containing sharp bone and metal with metal balls added as weight) that when applied to the back of an individual would inflict severe bruises and wounds so severe that muscle tissue and bone would be exposed. The bruises inflicted would be more easily torn open. Often the person would not survive the beatings. Jesus was beaten several times before the cross inflicting great pain and blood loss. (Mark 15:15; John 19:1)

After the torture he carried his own cross member part of the distance to the execution site. Carrying the heavy cross member was painful as the heavy cross member dug into his back and shoulder already laid open from the scourging. The fact that Jesus could even have done this at all signals that Jesus was some man.

In Jesus’ time crucifixion was the method to execute people and involved unimaginable suffering in addition to the beatings. Nailing his feet and hands with nine-inch nails to the cross resulted in all of the weight being on the arms and feet. In a short time the chest would be collapsing in on the lungs as the body sagged making breathing increasingly difficult. The arms would be painfully stretched beyond normal due to the hanging weight. To relieve the arms he would push up with the legs against the nails and with much pain in order to catch a breath. This would be done continually until he no longer could raise himself because the legs would weaken and cramp. Death would be painfully slow and due to asphyxiation as the lungs filled with fluid. Hypovolemic shock, a loss of blood and bodily fluids, would induce great thirst, tachycardia, pericardial effusion and ultimately heart failure. Heart failure in turn would cause a pleural effusion (a collection of fluid around the lungs that deprives of oxygen) and subsequent asphyxiation. This condition was evident when a Roman soldier thrust a spear into Jesus’ right side and up toward the heart and both water and blood flowed out. Jesus was dead at this point.

The suffering of Jesus during this torture demonstrates the great love God has for us and the length he went to make us holy and blameless from all sin past, present and future as predestined in Ephesians 1: 2-10. This was God’s plan before the creation of the world. Knowing this how can one not put your faith in Him.

Lee Southard

February 17, 2017