It was brutal. Two of the soldiers held Jesus’ arms while the third flogged him. They pulled his robe down and beat him with a lead tip scourge. And he didn’t utter a sound. The crowd couldn’t believe it. Public flogging wasn’t uncommon under the Romans, and the screams that accompanied the crack of the whip were horrifying. But Jesus remained silent, and his silence enraged the crowd.

The man with the whip seemed to take it as a personal affront that Jesus wouldn’t beg, and the whipping became more and more vicious. With each crack of the whip, blood splattered on the soldiers holding Jesus and his back looked like raw meat.

I turned and puked into the street. Wiping my mouth with my robe, I yelled, “Stop it! You’re killing him.” But my voice was drowned out by the mob that had now started to scream the numbers of each stroke, “Twenty-nine, thirty, thirty-one.”

Each number was accompanied by another crack of the whip. Jesus slumped between the men holding him, but they made sure he didn’t fall. And still, he didn’t say a word. All I could think was; that he’s like a lamb heading to the slaughter.

When the crowd yelled, “Thirty-Nine,” Pilate held up his hands again, “Enough, release him. Carpenter, go back to your shop. I don’t want to hear of you again.

“It’s Passover. My gift to you is this man.”

From the crowd, someone yelled, “We don’t want Jesus. We want Barabbas.”

“Seriously?” Pilate looked stunned, “I dealt with Barabbas yesterday. He is scheduled for execution today. Barabbas is a killer. He is like a mad dog. He is as guilty as this man is innocent. I have spoken, you will get the carpenter, and Rome will get Barabbas.”

“Free Barabbas, crucify Jesus. Free Barabbas, crucify Jesus.” Over and over again, the words were repeated by a crowd gone mad.

“Enough” Pilate yelled the words. He nodded to a servant who held a basin of water. Dipping his hands into the basin, he turned to the mob, “I am innocent of his blood. I wash my hands of all responsibility. You will have your way. If you want Jesus dead, then it will be your hands and the hands of your children that are covered with his blood and not mine. Do you understand?”

The response was immediate, “Yes. Free Barabbas and crucify Jesus.”

Nodding to the soldiers still holding Jesus, Pilate said, “Do as they want, crucify him.”

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