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Those Final, Dreadful Hours, Part 2

Insight for Living / Chuck Swindoll
The Truth Network Radio
November 8, 2021 7:05 am

Those Final, Dreadful Hours, Part 2

Insight for Living / Chuck Swindoll

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November 8, 2021 7:05 am

The King’s Commission: A Study of Matthew 21–28

Summit Life
J.D. Greear
Leading the Way
Michael Youssef
Insight for Living
Chuck Swindoll
Fellowship in the Word
Bil Gebhardt
Renewing Your Mind
R.C. Sproul

In the final hours before his death, Jesus was turned over to Roman soldiers.

What ensued was gruesome. Just prior, Jesus had been dragged through a series of mock trials, but now he was the object of unimaginable cruelty and suffering. Today on Insight for Living, Chuck Swindoll urges us to engage in this sobering biblical account recorded in Matthew 27. It's a presentation that started on Friday's program.

In case you missed it, we'll begin today with helpful highlights. Referring to the events that preceded the crucifixion of Christ, Chuck titled his message, Those Final Dreadful Hours. Our Father, how grateful we are for all that Christ endured on our behalf. How grateful we are that Calvary covers it all. Our sin and despair, he took on him there.

Calvary covers it all. We stand in silence and in awe of you, our God and none other, and we worship the Savior and none other. For he who knew no sin was made sin on our behalf, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. For that reason, we come boldly to the throne in prayer, and for that reason, we give generously to the work of ministry for your greater glory in honor of Christ, who loved us and gave himself for us. We pray these things in his name. Everyone said, amen.

You're listening to Insight for Living. To study the book of Matthew with Chuck Swindoll, be sure to download his Searching the Scriptures studies by going to slash studies. And now the message from Chuck titled, Those Final Dreadful Hours. Not one of us has ever witnessed a crucifixion, thank God. We don't know the procedure, we haven't even a mental image, except from artists who can never do its service.

How can you possibly put on canvas words like I'm going to read? In those days, there were two kinds of scourging or flogging, Jewish and Roman. The Jewish method is described in Deuteronomy 25, one to three, where we are told that a person was not to be beaten more than 40 times. Because the Jew was afraid of breaking the law of God, he would commonly strike the victim 39 times, making sure he counted meticulously so that he didn't go beyond 40. But in Roman scourging, there was no specified number of times that a victim could be beaten.

Think of that. Understandably, then, the Romans commonly called their torturous act of scourging halfway death. Before the scourging began, the victim was stripped of all clothing and bent forward over a low, thick stump or post. At the base of the post were four metal rings. The wrists and the ankles of the victim were shackled to the rings.

Jesus was stripped of his garments, bent low over the post with wrists and ankles shackled into that position. The scourging was done by a man called a lictor, L-I-C-T-O-R, a professional in the grim art of torture. The instrument used for scourging was called a flagellum, a piece of wood 14 to 18 inches long, circular in shape, not unlike our own broom handle, only shorter, to which were attached long leather thongs. Into these leather thongs or straps were sewn bits of glass, bone, and pieces of metal.

Jim Bishop, in his work, The Day Christ Died, adds these details. The soldier who performed the flagellum, the flagellations, moved to a position about six feet behind the victim, spread his legs. The flagellum was brought back all the way and whistled forward, making a dull drum sound as the strips of leather smacked against the back of the ribcage. The bits of bone and chain curled around the right side of the body and raised small subcutaneous hemorrhages on the chest. The flagellum came back again, aimed slightly lower, and again, aimed higher, and again, and again, and again, crashing against the skin and flesh.

The flagellum now moved in slow, heavy rhythm. It was designed to reduce the naked body to strips of raw flesh and inflamed bleeding wounds. It was not uncommon for a man to die on the stump.

I should add that it was not uncommon for the teeth to chatter like a death rattle in that horrible time of panic, and the body shook uncontrollably. That's our Savior, scourged by brutal Roman soldiers who could care less about who he was. Just another crucifixion criminal to them.

When they're worried of this, if the victim lived through it, and Jesus did, which tells us something of his physical condition, he was in great physical shape to endure such torture. They lead him now along a path. We read of it in verse 32 through 34. Along the way, they come across, or they came across a man named Simon. It's a Jewish name. He was from Cyrene.

It's a Greek settlement located west of Alexandria in northern Africa on the coast of the Mediterranean. It had a large Jewish population, and Simon being Jewish, no doubt, was reared in this prosperous trade center, quite likely had come to Jerusalem at the time of Passover. He's randomly chosen, and to begin with, he's forced into the scene which he never expected as a visitor in the land of Israel. He's forced to carry Jesus' cross, verse 32 ends. Not the entire cross. No one could carry 450 pounds. Back then, they carried only the cross beam, which is the horizontal piece that weighed approximately 200.

It was heavy enough, so heavy, that part of it dragged on the ground, as it was carried on the shoulder or under the arm, as long as the victim could carry it. So they brought him in, and he he carried the cross for Jesus. And then we read, they went out to a place called Golgotha, which means the place of a skull. Doesn't mean skulls were there, it means it was the terrain shaped like a massive skull. Golgotha is a Hebrew word that answers to cranium in the Greek, or calvary, which is Latin, standing for the same thing. The whole idea of a shape of a skull. How simply Matthew records it, and the details are left out like I'm giving you, because those in the first century are all familiar with crucifixion.

They've all witnessed it. It's the most common form of Roman capital punishment, which they took delight in, because it stated to everyone, crime does not pay. Rebel against the emperor, that's where you wind up. It also explains why Jesus was taken along this pathway.

If you travel in Israel today, it's called by the popular name the Via Dolorosa. And when you take that path, if it is a similar path to the one he literally took in the first century, it's narrow. There are markets on either side, sometimes very close to one another. The path narrows, so the marketplace where people are gathered would give public attention to the one dragging his cross beam. They all knew what it meant. They all knew where he was going.

They all knew what it represented. So without a word, as he goes through this, they all see the one carrying the cross beam on his way to Golgotha. When he gets there, before they do the nailing, and again Matthew writes it with such simple words, there they nailed him to a cross.

But before that, notice the soldiers gave him wine mixed with bitter gall. It's a mixture of oil with myrrh, a thick oil designed to stupefy the one about to be nailed to large beams, to keep him from struggling and screaming violently. These aren't small nails, these are what we would call spikes. They are driven into the beam through the palm or the base of the palm or the wrist, and once on the beam, through the feet that are brought over each other, that are drawn up so the knees protrude.

I'll explain why in a moment. From here on, it's almost more than our imaginations can comprehend, the most hideous and anguishing method of execution ever used. We read, verse 35, after they nailed him to the cross, and then Matthew goes on. Understand that he's nailed while everything is on the ground.

The cross beam is attached to the vertical beam, and then it is lifted and the vertical beam or pole is dropped in the hole, and then it is lifted and the vertical beam or pole is dropped in the hole, as the victim now hangs, pulled by gravity. Those are the words of various New Testament students and scholars describing crucifixion. William Barclay, the dreadful routine, he calls it. Kausner, a Jewish historian, the most terrible and cruel death man has ever devised. Cicero, the Roman, the most cruel and shameful of all punishments. William Wilson of the UK, in his judicial, literary, and historical investigation of what he called Jesus' execution, writes, not only was the cross the most painful of deaths, it was also considered the most debasing. The condemned was stripped naked, left exposed in his agony. The Romans even denied burial to the victim, allowing the body to hang on the cross until it literally disintegrated. Harvey Branscom summarizes pain, thirst, the torture of insects, exposure to brutal spectators, the horror of rigid fixation, all continuing interminably, combined to make it a supreme humiliation and torture. One of my sources stated that during the Roman era, as many as 30,000 victims were put to death by crucifixion. What is easy to forget is how long it took for the victim to die, which was part of the plan. While there were only two spikes, one for each hand and then one for the feet, that were driven through the victim's body onto the beam so that he would live longer and die more painfully over time. The late biblical and Hebrew scholar under whom I had the privilege of studying, Marileth Unger, writes in his Bible dictionary that there are instances on record of persons surviving for nine days before death came while hanging on a cross.

How simple the words appear in the text. They nailed him. And a little later, as he hung there, as he hung there, throwing dice for his clothing. Maybe they had three others that day that would be crucified.

He's just one in a group. They sat around. Someone put a sign over his head because those who were crucified, there was a public display of the crime. In his case, he was crucified in the eyes of the Romans for declaring to be the king of Jews, a threat on the emperor. They sat around, people shouting abuse, leading priests and teachers, mocking him, even the two revolutionaries on either side, mocking him, though one later did say, remember me when you come into your kingdom. Before I go further, may I describe this scene?

Bear with me. Some historians describe a saddle-like piece of wood on the upright pole where the victim could rest the base of his pelvis and find relief. His arms were now in a V position. And Jesus became conscious of two unendurable circumstances. The first was the pain in his wrists became beyond bearing. The muscle cramps knotted his forearms and upper arms and the pads on his shoulders. The second was that his pectoral muscles at his sides of his chest were momentarily paralyzed.

This induced in him an involuntary panic, for he found that while he could draw air into his lungs, he was powerless to exhale. To be able to keep breathing, writes Bishop, the victim on the cross had to stay in constant motion. So he was able to keep breathing. So he literally dragged himself up and down.

Up and down. Constantly so as to make breathing possible. Eventually he could no longer lift himself sufficiently to continue breathing. I interrupt for a moment to quote Dr. Truman Davis in his work The Passion of Christ from a medical point of view. As the arms fatigue, great waves of cramps sweep over the muscles, knotting them in deep, relentless, throbbing pain. With these cramps comes the inability to push himself upward. Hanging by his arms, the pectoral muscles are paralyzed and the intercostal muscles are unable to act. Air can be drawn into the lungs but cannot be exhaled. Jesus fights to raise himself in order to get even one short breath. Finally, carbon dioxide builds up in the lungs and in the blood stream and the cramps partially subside.

Spasmodically, he's able to push himself upward to exhale and bring in life-giving oxygen. All this represents hours of limitless pain, cycles of twisting, joint rending cramps, intermittent partial asphyxiation, searing pain as tissue is torn from his lacerated back as he moves up and down against the rough timber. Some suggest that victims of crucifixion died of suffocation. Others teach that they died from hunger.

Still others maintain they died from sheer exhaustion as the body eventually wore out from the unendurable pain and the unnatural suspension of the organs and muscles. And so they crucified him. People who pass by, according to verse 39, are shouting their mockery and they are shaking their heads as they yell at him, misquoting his words from earlier times. Even the leading priests and teachers of religious law and elders join in the scene. Dare I add that his own mother is watching it all, along with a few of his closest friends, unable to do a thing, hearing these words that taunt the one they love, as he is going through his darkest hours.

Let me add this, as horrific as the pain, that isn't the worst part. You'll read the worst part you'll read the worst part at verse 45 down through 46. Look in your Bible. At noon, darkness fell across the whole land until three o'clock. We would call it an eclipse, but it isn't a natural eclipse.

It is a supernatural shroud of darkness over the land. At about three o'clock in the afternoon, Jesus literally screams with a loud voice, translated, my God, my God, why have you abandoned me? For the first time in all of existence, God the Father turns his back on God the Son.

Why? Because the Lamb of God is bearing the sins of the world. A holy God cannot in any way relate to such a conglomeration of evil, being born by the Son. Thus, the Father's abandonment in that brief period of time as Jesus bore your sins, my sins, the sins of the whole world. Imagine the weight upon Jesus as He bore the sins of the whole world.

It's inconceivable. And there's much more about this moment in history that Chuck Swindoll wants to describe for us. He's teaching from Matthew 27, and he titled this message, Those Final Dreadful Hours. And to learn more about this ministry, please visit us online at

I'll remind you, whenever we come to a pause in Chuck's teaching, it doesn't mean your learning needs to stop. Insight for Living provides a variety of resources designed to help you dig into God's Word on your own. For instance, every sermon Chuck presents on this program is paired with Searching the Scriptures study notes. These are posted for you online, and they're absolutely free.

Plus, the study notes are interactive, meaning you can type your thoughts into the document online, or you can print them out and keep them at your desk. To access the Searching the Scriptures guide, go to slash studies. And maybe you're looking for a creative way to teach biblical theology to young kids. Well, Insight for Living Ministries produces a popular children's program called Paws and Tales.

The story's main character, a lovable bear, lives in the community of Wildwood, along with a cast of other creatures. Each story is complemented with music, and each drama drives home a theological truth. To access these stories for your family, go to slash Paws and Tales. Now, these free resources are made available because people like you support Insight for Living, and your generosity is truly making a difference in people from all walks of life who rely on Chuck's Bible teaching. I saw a recent note from a grateful law enforcement officer in Arizona and a podcast listener in South Africa. To give the gift of Chuck's Bible teaching to others, call us.

If you're listening in the U.S., dial 1-800-772-8888 or give online at You've heard him teach about the Holy Land, using word pictures to make us feel like we're actually strolling through the old city. Learning about Jerusalem is fascinating for sure, but seeing the land of Israel with your own eyes is life-changing.

In fact, it's absolutely magnificent. And now you can see Israel with Chuck Swindoll and the gracious hosts and experts assembled by Insight for Living Ministries. Join us on an unforgettable 12-day tour, March 6-17, 2022. At special sites along the way, I will teach from God's Word, we'll worship at the Mount of Beatitudes, and share the Lord's Table at the Garden Tomb. In fact, we'll sail the Sea of Galilee together, and we'll visit places where Jesus walked and talked. To learn more, call 1-888-447-0444. Just imagine walking along those sacred sites and seeing the Bible come to life before your very eyes. Mark your calendar for March 6-17, 2022. And make your reservation by calling 1-888-447-0444. Or go to slash events. Insight for Living Ministries' tour to Israel is paid for and made possible by only those who choose to attend. Listen when Chuck Swindoll continues to describe the final dreadful hours of Jesus' life, Tuesday on Insight for Living.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-07-26 11:49:01 / 2023-07-26 11:57:40 / 9

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