(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)
Sickness has hit many people due to Covid -19! A lot of people have been sickened by the virus, and far too many have died. Some have described the symptoms as “…the worst case of the flu imaginable…I couldn’t breathe, I had severe body pains, headache, fever…” and so on. Others have had little or no symptoms.
Jesus was perfect man and perfect God! Did He ever so much as catch a cold? Or have to remove a painful splinter? How can He possibly say He has experienced everything that we have? In our featured Scripture of Hebrews 4:14 through 16 the Lord tells us exactly that:
Seeing that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
As we saw in the last Gem, the word sympathize in verse 15 means, “…more than knowledge of human infirmity. It is feeling it by reason of a common experience with men.” (M.R. Vincent’s Word Studies in the New Testament). And the word tempted means “…to test…that is, endeavor, scrutinize….” (Strong’s Greek Dictionary). And, as I wrote in that Gem, “To test and scrutinize something, you have to be in the middle of it! We are…and He has been in the middle of it! And He is in the thick of things with us now!”
So how does Jesus Christ know experientially what we are going through when we become sick? The last 20 hours of the Lord’s life before He died was a horrendous experience of physical maladies!
- In Matthew 26:67 and 68, He was beaten by the members of the Sanhedrin after He was falsely accused of blaspemy: “Then they spat in His face and beat Him, and others struck Him with the palms of their hands, saying, ‘Prophesy to us, Christ! Who… struck You?’ ” That mistreatment resulted in pain both immediate and lingering!
- Governor Pilate, to appease the bloodthirsty Jews, had Jesus flogged by Roman soldiers! (See Mark 15:15). The Jews, for humanitarian reasons, forbid anyone to be whipped more than 40 times (see Deuteronomy 25:2, 3). But the Romans were not held by such constraints! We don’t know how many times the whip landed on Jesus’ body, but each time it left it’s horrible mark! According to the website, https://www.bible-history.com /past/flagrum:
The Roman scourge, also called the “flagrum” or “flagellum” was a short whip made of two or three leather (ox-hide) thongs or ropes connected to a handle....The leather thongs were knotted with a number of small pieces of metal, usually zinc and iron, attached at various intervals. Scourging would quickly remove the skin....Deep lacerations, torn flesh, exposed muscles and excessive bleeding would leave the criminal “half-dead.”
- After that horrible experience of Roman flogging, we are told in Mark 15:16 through 20:
Then the soldiers led Him away...and they called together the whole garrison. And they clothed Him with [a] purple [robe]; and they twisted a crown of thorns, put it on His head....Then they struck Him on the head with a reed and spat on Him; and bowing the knee, they worshiped Him. And when they had mocked Him, they took the purple [robe] off Him, put His own clothes on Him, and led Him out to crucify Him.
More pain and humiliation inflicted! And I wonder what it felt like on Jesus’ raw back with blood drying when they roughly pulled the purple robe off Him?
- In Isaiah 50:6 and 52:14 (Contemporary English Version) we learn more of the extent of the torture Jesus endured:
I let them beat My back and pull out My beard. I didn't turn aside when they insulted Me and spit in My face....Many were horrified at what happened to Him. But everyone who saw Him was even more horrified because He suffered until He no longer looked human.
- John 19:17 and 18 – “And He, bearing His cross, went out to…where they crucified Him….” Most likely it was only the cross beam of the cross which Jesus was forced to carry. But still it was too heavy, too much for Him in His weakened condition. So “…they laid hold of a certain man, Simon a Cyrenian…and on him they laid the cross that he might bear it after Jesus.” (Luke 23:28). The Romans didn’t want the Lord to die under the cross before they nailed Him on it!
- Then there was the crucifixion itself! While crucifixion was not invented by the Romans, you could say they perfected the most agonizingly painful and humiliating method of capital punishment ever invented!
✞ A person was either nailed through wrists and feet (as in the case of Jesus – see Psalm 22:16) or bound by ropes to a cross. ✞ As He hung on the cross, His bones pulled out of joint! Or perhaps the soldiers roughly pulled His shoulders out of joint as they stretched His arms out to drive the nails into pre-positioned holes (see Psalm 22:14). ✞ He endured terrible thirst as dehydration and fever raged! (See Psalm 22:15; John 19:28). ✞ Breathing was exceptionally difficult! Due to the position of His body on the cross, Jesus could inhale, but to exhale He had to painfully pull up on nailed wrists and push up on nailed feet to allow the dia- phragm to push stale air out. ✞ The humiliation was extreme! Jesus hung naked, wetting and messing Himself! Mark 29 through 31 says: And those who passed by blasphemed Him, wagging their heads and saying, “Aha! You who destroy the temple and build it in three days, save Yourself and come down from the cross!” Like- wise the chief priests also, together with the scribes, mocked and said among themselves, “He saved others; Himself He cannot save. Let Christ the King of Israel, descend now from the cross, that we may see and believe.” And those who were crucified with Him reviled Him.
So now, what do you think? Does the Lord Jesus Christ know from human experience the limitations sickness has placed upon you? Does He understand your fever, pains, congestion, weakness, thirst, and hunger? Yes, He is God! He knows everything! But isn’t it comforting to know your Lord and Savior knows from personal experience what you are going through?
And He, being God, has all the authority and power to bring comfort and healing…and to give you the patience as you wait for Him to act!