Fouled Up Beyond All Recognition

In the movie, Saving Private Ryan, Private Reiben asks, “Where’s the sense of riskin’ the lives of the eight of us to save one guy?” Captain Miller says, “We all have orders, and we have to follow ’em. That supersedes everything, including your mothers.” Private Reiben asks, “Even if you think the mission’s FUBAR, sir?” “Especially if you think the mission’s FUBAR,” answers Captain Miller.20120203-171023

Corporal Upham asks, “What’s FUBAR?” As things go from bad to worse, he learns what FUBAR means: fouled up beyond all recognition. (sanitized version).

When something is messed up so badly that it cannot be recognized as what it is supposed to be, that’s FUBAR. That’s what happened to Jesus when He was executed for our sins. Not only was He so messed up that He could not be recognized as God, even his humanity did not appear. Both were hidden under our sin that He was bearing.

“His appearance was so marred, beyond human semblance, and his form beyond that of the children of mankind,” or “His appearance was so disfigured that He did not look like a man, and His form did not resemble a human being.” (Isaiah 52:14) Before crucifixion, Roman flogging already had accomplished this.

Flogging was a legal preliminary to Roman execution. Hebrew law prohibited more than 40 lashes. The Pharisees established a law of only 39, in case of miscount. Roman law was different. The executioner had discretion over the number of lashes. Some never made it to their crosses.

The tool for scourging was the flagellum, a short whip with several heavy, leather thongs. Some had lead balls near the end of each thong. Others had jagged stone, broken pottery, or pieces of bone. The pain of blows was intended, but the idea went further, to cut the skin.

“Finally the skin of the back is hanging in long ribbons and the entire area is an unrecognizable mass of torn bleeding tissue.” (C. Truman Davis, M.D. in the journal Arizona Medicine) In the movie, The Passion of the Christ, Mel Gibson was not exaggerating.

As preached by the apostles, the point was not how badly Jesus suffered, but that his appearance portrays how bad our sin is. Sin makes us unrecognizable as the humans we once were in Adam before the fall. FUBAR.

Our ruin showed on Jesus when He took our place and carried our sin. But Jesus triumphed over our sin with all its damage. He went from humiliation on our behalf to glorification. He rose from the dead. He ascended into heaven. He sat down at the right hand of the Father where He rules over all things. As He once shared our sinful ruin, now He shares again his Father’s glory. This glory is more dazzling than the ugliness of our sin. He prays for us. He sends us the Holy Spirit to commend the Gospel of forgiveness to us. Through the Gospel, He promises to share his glory with us in our resurrection.

About T. R. Halvorson

T. R. Halvorson was born in Sidney, Montana on July 14, 1953, baptized at Pella Evangelical Lutheran Church in Sidney, Montana on November 8, 1953, and confirmed at First Lutheran Church in Williston, North Dakota in 1968. He and his wife, Marilyn, are members of Trinity Lutheran Church (LCMS) in Sidney, Montana. They have three sons and six grandchildren. T. R. farms at Wildrose, North Dakota, and is Deputy County Attorney in Sidney, Montana. He has been a computer programmer; and an author, conference speaker, instructor, and consultant to industry in online legal information. He is among the authors of the religion column in the Sidney Herald at Sidney, Montana. He is the Editor of


Fouled Up Beyond All Recognition — 2 Comments

  1. Thanks, T.R. for this article. A couple of thoughts:
    1. The article reminded me of the following quote, from Johann Gerhard’s An Explanation of the History of the Suffering and Death of Our Lord Jesus Christ”:
    “We hould perceive what a terribly frightening thing it was tha the Lord Christ was crushed with the burden of sin so that He pitiably sighed like a dove and whimpered like a crane, Isa. 38. Indeed, the world regards sin as a minor thing, but we here see how it is regarded in God’s judgment. Accordingly, when the Devil, the world, or our flesh wants to entice us to sin, we should call to mind this sad picture of the crucified Christ, of how
    He lamented being forsaken by God on account of the burden of sin.”
    2. When Mel Gibson’s movie, The Passion of the Christ, came out, I noted then and now that it can not be forgotten that it was the shame of the Cross, dying naked, weak and despised, that was the emotional horror of our Lord upon the cross, cf. Luke 18: 32, Hebrews 12: 2, 1 Corinthians 1: 27 (the very reversal of the shame of the Cross to “shame the wise”!). Maybe in our day the shame of the Cross is overlooked because there is so little shame in our day because we say we have no sin…

  2. @Pr. Mark Schroeder #1

    Pastor Schroeder, sorry about the tardiness of my reply.

    I read that Gerhard book on vacation a few Marches ago. It is wonderful, and I probably will read it again.

    On your second point, yes, very much so.

    A few excerpts from an article I wrote about that:

    ” In the time of Jesus, public trials served a purpose alien to us. They were status degradation rituals. Their purpose was to destroy the status a person had absolutely. By absolutely I mean two things:

    ” – To label the accused not merely as someone who did wrong in the case, but as a shameful person.

    ” – To saturate the shame through and through.

    “The idea was to condemn the accused not only for conduct, but for motives. The accused was exposed as shameful from the inside out. The ascription of deviant motives was not limited to one facet of the accused’s character. It had an “essentializing” function. The ascribed motives became the accused’s essential or real self. Certain socially identified perverse motives were made to constitute the total identity of the accused. The shame was penetrating, thorough, and encompassing. He was completely shame, and nothing else.

    “The trial was just a cog in the gears of degradation. The whole machine ground out shame, and the trial was just a part of the machinery.”

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