I was told about an Episcopalian minister who said that he would not venture to see The Passion of the Christ because several medical physicians had told him that they had seen the movie and claimed in their expert opinion that Mel Gibson over exaggerated the scourging of Jesus. In their professional judgment, they claimed any man who suffered the physical trauma to their body that was depicted would be dead let alone be alive to carry a cross to Calgary. The Episcopalian minister did not want to see Christ depicted in such an untruthful manner.
The disbelief of these individuals has taken me by surprise. First, an Episcopal minister who cannot, even though based on the testimony of medical experts, believe that our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, suffered more than "any man" could endure. And then, to hear medical experts make claims that Jesus could not have survived such a beating when there are many examples of valiant efforts by normal human beings under similar physical trauma that decry logic.
In discussions with many fellow Christians of the attitudes of the Episcopalian minister and medical experts their first response usually is, "Well, after all he is God, and we could not expect less from him. He did have the power to give himself the strength and endurance to make it through such torture. Yes, Jesus was in pain and was bleeding profusely, but God gave him the strength to endure."
A nice thought - and, if God wanted to be involved there is no doubt in my mind that he could have been. But, in this humble man's opinion, with our full knowledge, God's interference at this point in time would disprove what he was trying to do, that is, to have Jesus sacrifice his human life for our sins. In other words, to have God shore Jesus up at this critical time, would be like having a youngster's father "pinch hit" for his son or daughter during a crucial play in a Little League baseball game. Some of you may feel this analogy sacrilegious, but the point has to be made, Jesus had to do this on his own.
First, the Episcopalian minister and medical experts are correct; most men would have succumbed to the beating that Jesus suffered. Scourging whips were specifically designed to tear away human flesh exposing bone, ligaments, muscle, and eventually, organs. If a man was lucky enough to survive the prescribed forty lashes, his luck ran out when they crucified him. Did Jesus receive the full forty lashes in the movie? I'm not sure that the movie was clear on this. However, I do recall that Pontius Pilot ordered Jesus to be whipped, but not killed, rationalizing that this would be enough punishment for Jesus' accusers. And, to defend the Episcopalian minister and medical doctors to a further degree, even if Jesus did not receive the required amount, many men succumbed to the brutal lashing of even lesser numbers, so why not Jesus?
In support of how Jesus survived the following is offered. How many times have we read in the newspaper quotations from medical experts after a tragic accident to the effect, "There is no medical explanation for why this person survived. For all intents and purposes they should be dead, in fact, they were dead." Or, "That young mother should've died, but she survived long enough to save her baby."
Try this on for size. A young mother who barely weighs 100 lbs. whose young child is trapped under a heavy object that is impossible for her to lift, such as a car. But, without thinking and without hesitation, she picks up the object to free and to save her precious child. When questioned later, she has no recollection of how she accomplished such a Herculean task and only found out from people who witnessed it. I personally know of an incident where a woman's husband was trapped under the plow-blade of his lawn tractor. She lifted not only the blade, but the tractor so that he could slide out from under.
What surprises me even more with regard to the Episcopalian minister and his medical doctor advice is that medical doctors know that there is a medical explanation for these so-called phenomena. It is a well-known medical fact that the body under stress and under duress secretes adrenaline which can cause the body, in many cases, to do extraordinary things. Why then is it too hard to imagine that our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ did not need God to pinch-hit for him as he experienced such a surge of God's own designed bodily function available to everyone of us? Jesus did it without divine intervention and suffered far beyond our greatest imagination while knocking sin completely out of the ball park.
Copyright © Paul Murphy.
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