The 39 Stripes

Jesus in the Gospels

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“…With His stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5). Jesus was not only crucified, he was utterly and insanely beaten before He was crucified. The cost of our salvation must be estimated not only in terms of what happened on the Cross, but also what happened on the way to the Cross. Jesus took stripes upon His back to complete our redemption. The stripes of Jesus are anointed to release healing. His stripes are the means and the grounds upon which we can claim divine healing and supernatural deliverance.

Why do we say that Jesus endured 39 stripes? No where in the Gospels are we told specifically that Jesus received 39 stripes. Why then do we make any reference to 39 stripes?

According to the law of Moses no Jew was to be given more than forty stripes (Deuteronomy 25:1-3). In order to make sure they never violated the Law of Moses by giving even one stripe too many, the religious leaders began to count up to 39 stripes. Over time the 39 stripes rule became the established custom in the Jewish judicial system.

According to Roman Law and customs no man was to receive more than 39 stripes (II Corinthians 11:24-25). 40 Stripes was considered a death sentence. The Romans believed that 40 stripes would kill a normal man. They did not want the accused to die on the whipping post.  They wanted their prisoners to endure as much pain and suffering as possible. They wanted them to die nailed to a cross.

There are some who think it incredulous that anyone would hold to the claim that Jesus received 39 stripes. They point to all the laws the Jewish Council (Sanhedrin) violated to crucify Christ. They cite the barbarianism of the Romans and rebuff the idea that the Romans would have withheld any form of punishment prior to the Crucifixion. They consider 39 stripes too lenient a punishment for Jesus. Surely the Jews and the Romans would have trespassed any law or custom when it came to afflicting pain on the Saviour. They forget that what Jesus endured was not just a whipping, it was a “scourging”.

The 39 stripes that Jesus bore for our redemption, healing and deliverance came from a Roman flagellum. Allow me to explain. The Roman flagellum would have been the instrument used to beat Jesus. This whip was made of three belts or ropes of leather attached to a wooden handle. When the scourging began the administer would be a rough and rugged seasoned Roman soldier.

The flagellum was about three feet long. Every three inches on the belts or ropes of the whip would be sharp pieces of bone that are said to have come for the pelvis of a lamb. The pieces of bone would be placed in the knots that ran down the whip. Each time a prisoner was whipped a piece of the bone would break and leave jagged edges of bone protruding from the knots. The cuts and lacerations would be more unbearable each swing of the whip. In addition to the pieces of bone, there would also be small hooks hanging from the leather strands. Sometimes glass or some other deep flesh-cutting material would be attached. There would be at minimum three different kinds of crude flesh-cutting materials used. This why the Romans called it “a cat of nine tails”.

Some men died while being whipped by the flagellum. Jesus made it through the beating. He made it to the Cross! He made it out of the grave!

Jesus was beat that we might be healed. He bore the stripes on his back that we might not have to carry the burden of sickness and disease. Our healing and deliverance was secured by the stripes on his body.

Believe in your heart and confess with your mouth, “By the stripes of Jesus, I am healed!”

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