I have often wondered about this little insert of information, found only in Matthew’s letter. What would have made this woman have such a dream? Surely God wasn’t “warning her” as He’d done so often throughout history. After all, all that was happening was His plan.

 

Could it have been that Satan, keenly aware that if the Son of God were crucified the human race would have their way back to God? That the moment he’d been dreading and yet anticipating for thousands and thousands of years—since that awful moment in the Garden of Eden—was about to come to pass? Could he have used the mind’s ability to dream while sleeping to try to influence possibly the only person who could persuade Pilate against the crucifixion of Jesus?

 

I suppose in this life we won’t know. But one thing we do know is this: sent back to Pilate, Jesus was eventually condemned to die. But first, he would be flogged—and taken just this side of death.

 

Suffered Under Pontius Pilate

 

Many Christians today have no real clue as to the sufferings of Jesus. It would have been enough had He been led up to Calvary and “simply” crucified. In and of itself, Roman crucifixion was a horrendous way to die.

 

By the time Jesus had been condemned by Pilate to die a criminal’s death, He’d already been beaten to a degree. But what was about to happen to him is beyond the heart’s understanding.

 

Roman scourging (or flogging, as some say) involved an instrument known as a “cat of nine tails,” which was a long whip with nine strands of leather, each strand embedded with items such as bone, nails, glass and other sharp and broken items. They were designed to bring a criminal to his knees with just one lash and thereby to extract information. It was well understood that more than 39 lashes would kill a man, but men died with less than that.

 

The historian Josephus wrote that men were literally torn to shreds. Body parts were exposed. Historian Eusebius of Caesarea describes the absolute gruesomeness of this type of torture. Some men, when their flesh was hit just the right way, could easily die from their arteries being sliced apart or from their vital organs being ripped from their bodies.

 

For Jesus, this wasn’t the end. It was only the beginning.

 


Photo: Found within the Franciscan Chapel inside the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, The Column of the Flagellation is a fragment of a porphyry pillar and is said to be the pillar to which Jesus was tied during the scourging. Photo taken by Eva Marie Everson.

 

Award-winning national speaker Eva Marie Everson is a recent graduate of Andersonville Theological Seminary. Her work includes the just released Sex, Lies, and the Media (Cook) and The Potluck Club (Baker/Revell) She can be contacted for comments or for speaking engagement bookings at www.evamarieeverson.com   .