Matthew 27:26 Then he released Barabbas to them; and when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered Him to be crucified.
The purpose of the scourge was to exact a confession from the accused, before being put to death. Not that a confession would change the final disposition of the condemned, but for the purpose of setting an example for the crowd who were witnessing the judgment of a convicted criminal. Literally, all punishment that was committed against a breaker of the law, was for the purpose of preventing others from committing the same crime themselves.
The punishment of the guilty was intended to be the ultimate deterrent. A vividly bloodied criminal who was publicly put to death before crowds of people, might prevent others from going down the same path. Those who would see the sentence of death being carried out, might think again before committing the crime they were considering. It is certain that every person who watched a man die by crucifixion would leave the scene with a graphic reminder of what the consequences of disobeying the law would mean to them personally, should they commit the same act.
If the criminal should confess their crimes at the beginning of the lashes from the guard throwing the whip to the criminal’s back, they might be spared further suffering or even death. Very often the obstinate criminal who would not confess their crimes, would be forced to endure all 40 lashes upon their body and would perish as a result of the massive tissue damage and extreme blood loss.
Because Jesus had committed no crime and therefore had nothing to confess, each progressive lash laid upon his body became harder and tore deeper into His flesh. As no confession ever came from Jesus lips, he endured 39 of the 40 lashed prescribed. The Jews desiring to be seen as merciful, often ceased the lashing at 39 instead of the prescribed 40.
The scourge was not simply a leather strap that struck the back of Jesus. It was a multi-thonged whip that could have had up to 9 separate leather cords attached to a single leather handle. Attached to the end of each leather cord were pieces of broken bone, jagged pieces of glass, or sharp metal objets. As the nine cords were laid upon the back of Jesus, the handle was then pulled away violently, causing the sharp objects on the ends of the nine cords to grab at the flesh of the back, stomach, shoulders and arms, tearing away ribbons of flesh with each pass. By the time Jesus endured the 39th lash, his body was a piece of torn and shredded flesh that exposed muscle and bone. He was bleeding profusely and by the shear loss of blood alone, Jesus should have expired from the scourge. Jesus was a strong, hard working, carpenter who had built up over many years, a sturdy frame coupled with a body that was Holy and pure. He was stronger than most men, but this was not the power that sustained Him. It was his love for us, that kept him on course to finish the payment for all our sins. He did not falter, nor fail to take the full measure of all God’s wrath for our sins, as He continued to take the punishment until the atonement for all our transgressions was accomplished.
The pain that Jesus felt while having his flesh torn from his body was more intense than any suffering we will encounter during our life. Paul later recorded that it was your face and mine that kept Jesus true to His course. He saw us all fully redeemed, standing before Him, purified of all our sins. This is what kept Jesus tied to the post where He was scourged and beaten. It was not the power of men that secured Jesus to the scourge post, it was His love for us, that would not allow Him to surrender or use His power as God to stop the brutality being committed against Him.
Hebrews 12:2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
It was for you that Jesus took this pain. It was so that you might have the chance to experience the glory of heaven in a perfect body, that He allowed His body to undergo so much suffering. Even today, Jesus still bears the marks of the scourge on his body. In the book of Revelation, we see Jesus as He appears today. He is described as a Lamb that looked as though he had been killed.
Revelation 5:6 And I looked, and behold, in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as though it had been slain…
Jesus told Thomas to put his finger into the holes in His hands and side where He had been pierced. Jesus bore the marks of His crucifixion, even after He was raised from the dead.
John 20:27 Then He said to Thomas, “Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side.
Today, sitting on the throne of God in heaven is a man, Jesus Christ. He remains not only a man, but also a brutally disfigured man. Jesus will bear the scars of His suffering as a eternal reminder to all of us who love him, what He endured so that He could deliver us from hell and death, forever.
For a complete description of the terrible suffering Jesus endured for us, see the chapter: The Crucifixion of Jesus Christ.
 From Edwards WD, Gabel WJ, Hosmer FE. On the Physical death of Jesus Christ. JAMA 1986;255(11):1455-63. Used with permission of Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, all rights reserved.