Matthew 27:26, “…having scourged Jesus…”
I was reading through Matthew 27 this morning and came across these three simple words referring to Pilate’s sentencing of Christ….the full verse reads:
“Then he released for them Barabbas, and having scourged Jesus, delivered him to be crucified.”
What gripped my attention this morning is how much horror and suffering and agony are bound up in that one word, “scourged,” and how much beauty and glory and authority and love are bound up in that one word, “Jesus.”
What–in all the universe–could join these two words together? How can the word the “scourged” ever be united to “Jesus”? What sort of insanity would bring the concept–much less the reality–of leather whips and raking glass and tearing iron together with the Christ, the Son of God, the incarnate Second Person of the Trinity? Two answers at least, with the second being primary: Sin and Love.
Sin brought them together For two reasons. First because sin is deicidal…Sin–mine and yours–will move the sinner to kill God if given a chance. And here, God gave them the chance.
Secondly, sin brought them together because all of the agony that Jesus would endure on the cross (and the physical torture was only the surface of the sea) was endured because sin must be punished. In a universe created to declare the beauty of the Triune God, all that opposes God (i.e., sin) must be eradicated…and since Jesus bore the sins of His Bride in His own body (1 Peter 2:24), this means that He–body and soul–had to be put to final death. Every stroke of the scourge, every tearing of our Lord and God’s skin and muscle, every hammer blow of divine judgment that shattered the Beloved Son, was because sin–mine and yours–is real and must be dealt with.
And that leads to the second and more primary reason that “scourged” and “Jesus” are united in this verse: Love.
Apart from a God of sovereign love, the two words that would be united here are “scourged” and “Christopher”…..”scourged” and “your name”….but instead, the words united are “scourged” and “Jesus”–or, to make the point more clearly–“scourged” and “YHWH Saves.” This is how the God of love has manifested His love (which is to say, Himself) to all of creation, He sent His only begotten, fully divine, perfectly self-imaging Son into the world as a wrath absorbing sacrifice in our place.
Becuase God is love, He seeks the best for His beloved. And because He is the best, He is unswervingly committed to communicating Himself to His people for their joy. This is ultimately achieved through Christ and climacitcally in His final sufferings and resurrection. The incarnate Son is scourged because God loves the world and would declare Himself to the world by enduring the curse and swallowing the desolation of the world into Himself so that they might know and love Him (i.e., have eternal life). The Love of God pours out the Son of God under the Wrath of God so that the enemies of God might become sons of God and be folded into the joy of God to the eternal glory of God…..that–ultimately–is why Jesus, and not His Bride, is scourged.
Let me end with a call to us all to receive afresh this Savior….the sufferings of the sovereignly scourged Son are for those who would receive Him….Sin will be repaid, in the flesh of Christ or in the flesh of the sinner…..may we all be trusting the crucified and risen Jesus as our Lord and so know our sin vicariously condemned in His flesh (Romans 8:3).