Hebrews – Chapter Twelve XII

by Ed Urzi

“In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood” (Hebrews 12:4 ESV).

Hebrews 12:4 draws a comparison between the sufferings inflicted upon the members of the original audience for this epistle and those that were inflicted upon Jesus. The Gospel of Mark offers an account of the suffering Jesus endured before He reached the cross…

They put a purple cloak on him and after braiding a crown of thorns, they put it on him. They began to salute him: ‘Hail, king of the Jews!’ Again and again they struck him on the head with a staff and spit on him. Then they knelt down and paid homage to him” (Mark 15:17-19 NET).

In a grotesque parody of a golden crown worn by a king, the soldiers guarding Jesus placed a crown made from the branches of a sharp thorny plant upon His head prior to His crucifixion. Mark’s Gospel also tells us that the Roman soldiers struck Jesus repeatedly on the head during this time. This act was certain to produce severe bleeding as the crown of thorns was driven into His scalp.

Although the Gospels do not provide us with an extensive physical description of Jesus’ condition during this time, that may be due to the fact that this information was detailed prophetically in advance…

“I gave My back to those who struck Me, And My cheeks to those who plucked out the beard; I did not hide My face from shame and spitting” (Isaiah 50:6).

“…His visage was marred more than any man, And His form more than the sons of men” (Isaiah 52:14).

But these things were just a prelude to Jesus’ actual crucifixion…

“And when they crucified Him, they divided His garments, casting lots for them to determine what every man should take” (Mark 15:24).

A condemned prisoner was typically stripped of his clothing upon arrival at the site of his crucifixion. He was then bound with ropes or nailed to the crossbar (or “patibulum”) he carried to his execution. Those who were nailed to their crosses (as Jesus was), were typically secured with large spikes that were approximately seven inches (18 cm) long, and 1/3 inch (.75 cm) wide at the head. These spikes were likely driven into the wrist area at the base of the hand. After this, the crossbar was fastened onto a vertical pole (or “stipe”). Finally, the victim’s feet were nailed into the vertical portion of his cross.

While these descriptions are painful to read, the author of Hebrews encourages us to bring these facts to our remembrance to help in maintaining the right perspective on the sufferings we endure.