It’s been a wonderful Easter season for the Wades and I pray it has been the same for all of you as well! We left off last week with this thought -to understand the resurrected life, we must understand the sacrificial death. Have you ever wondered why the method of death for Jesus was crucifixion? I believe this question probed the hearts and minds of the people during Jesus times as well people of today, why CRUCIFIXION?
History tells us that crucifixion was first devised by the Persians and later adopted by the Romans. The Romans used crucifixion as its form of punishment for non-Roman criminals. The acts that took place prior to and leading up to crucifixion was to humiliate the person and at the same time inflict the maximum amount of pain a human could experience prior to death. The criminals were often flogged before being crucified in order to weaken and hastened the person’s death. Crucifixion was so horrific that the Romans conducted it outside their city walls so that Roman citizens wouldn’t have to be exposed to it. A sign was posted on the cross above the person’s head identifying the charge.
Crucifixion involved Jesus’s feet and hands being bound and nailed to two crossed beams resembling the shape of the lower case letter “t”. His feet were nailed to the vertical beam while his hands were nailed horizontally to the cross beam, in an outstretched position. Having your arms outstretched above the lungs made it extremely difficult to breath. Jesus would have had to push himself up with his feet to catch his breath. Just doing this would also cause excruciating pain. This process of dancing up and down could go on for a couple of days. There were soldiers guarding those being crucified on the cross, when given the order they would break the legs of those being crucified if their death took too long.
Interestingly enough, Jesus’s legs were never broken and thus fulfilling the scriptures.
Psalm 34:20 For the LORD protects the bones of the righteous; not one of them is broken! John quoted this very verse in John 19:31-37 Now it was the day of Preparation, and the next day was to be a special Sabbath. Because the Jewish leaders did not want the bodies left on the crosses during the Sabbath, they asked Pilate to have the legs broken and the bodies taken down. The soldiers therefore came and broke the legs of the first man who had been crucified with Jesus, and then those of the other. But when they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water. The man who saw it has given testimony, and his testimony is true. He knows that he tells the truth, and he testifies so that you also may believe. These things happened so that the scripture would be fulfilled: “Not one of his bones will be broken,” and, as another scripture says, “They will look on the one they have pierced.”
To say the least, crucifixion was a inhumane way to die. So what was the real purpose of Jesus’s crucifixion? It was God’s perfect design, that Jesus should die to make an atonement for the sins of mankind. In the same way that sin entered the world by one man, Adam, that through one man, Jesus the son of God, would come the forgiveness of sin for all those who would accept Jesus as Lord and savior. Isaiah 53:10-12 Yet it was the LORD’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the LORD makes his life an offering for sin, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand. After he has suffered, he will see the light of life and be satisfied; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities. Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.
When I think about the power of the cross, of Jesus crucified, I can’t help but think how we short change ourselves by waiting to remember this once a year at Easter time. Shouldn’t we think about the power of the cross everyday? How different would we think, feel and act if we started each day remembering what Jesus did for us? Here are the words to an old hymn many of you may know … Enjoy!