Crucifixion was one of the most gruesome deaths that a person could endure. Because of this, it is difficult to understand why the Christians remember that day as “GOOD Friday.” Let me explain. It is not the torture of the crucifixion that is considered good…but the message of what this death meant to the people of the world.
1Peter 2:24 tells us, “He Himself bore our sins in his body upon the cross, so that free from sin, we might live for righteousness. By His wounds, you have been healed.”
What exactly is crucifixion? Have we ever really given it sufficient thought? Perhaps this description taken from Wikipedia will help:
Crucifixion is a method of capital punishment in which the victim is tied or nailed to a large wooden beam and left to hang for several days until eventual death from exhaustion and asphyxiation… Crucifixion was most often performed to dissuade its witnesses from perpetrating similar (usually particularly heinous) crimes. Victims were sometimes left on display after death as a warning to any other potential criminals. Crucifixion was usually intended to provide a death that was particularly slow, painful, gruesome, humiliating, and public, using whatever means were most expedient for that goal. Crucifixion methods varied considerably with location and time period. The Greek and Latin words corresponding to “crucifixion” applied to many different forms of painful execution, from impaling on a stake to affixing to a tree… Seneca the Younger, a Roman philosopher, wrote: “I see crosses there, not just of one kind but made in many different ways: some have their victims with head down to the ground; some impale their private parts; others stretch out their arms on the gibbet”…In some cases, the condemned was forced to carry the crossbeam to the place of execution. A whole cross would weigh well over 300 lb…Upright posts would presumably be fixed permanently in that place, and the crossbeam, with the condemned person perhaps already nailed to it, would then be attached to the post. The person executed may have been attached to the cross by rope, though nails and other sharp materials are mentioned in a passage by the Judean historian, Josephus, where he states that at the Siege of Jerusalem, “the soldiers out of rage and hatred, nailed those they caught, one after one way, and another after another, to the crosses, by way of jest”…While a crucifixion was an execution, it was also a humiliation, by making the condemned as vulnerable as possible. Although artists have traditionally depicted the figure on a cross with a loin cloth or a covering of the genitals, the person being crucified was usually stripped naked. Writings by Seneca the Younger state some victims suffered a stick forced upwards through their groin. Despite its frequent use by the Romans, the horrors of crucifixion did not escape criticism by some eminent Roman orators. Cicero, for example, described crucifixion as “a most cruel and disgusting punishment”, and suggested that “the very mention of the cross should be far removed not only from a Roman citizen’s body, but from his mind, his eyes, his ears”…Frequently, the legs of the person executed were broken or shattered with an iron club, an act called crurifragium, which was also frequently applied without crucifixion to slaves. This act hastened the death of the person.
From the writings of those who heard the last words of Jesus, He said these sentences as the hours past and He eventually died on the cross:
- “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” Luke 23:34
- “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.” Luke 23:43 This was said to the thief dying on the cross next to Him.
- “Woman, this is your son.” (Said to his Mother, Mary, who had given Him birth)
- “This is your Mother.” (Said to His disciple John to take care of His mother Mary) John 19:26-27
- “My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?” Matthew 27:46 (This was after 3 hours of darkness, which was only 3:00 o’clock Judea time in the day.)
- “I thirst.” (This was the expression of his human suffering. He had been scourged, crowned with thorns and was losing blood.)
- “It is finished.” John 19:30
- “Father, into Your hands I commend my spirit.” Luke 23:46
It was by His death that we are redeemed. “For there is one God. There is also one mediator between God and the human race, Christ Jesus, himself human, who gave Himself as ransom for all.” 1Timothy 2:5-6
The Biblical Text of the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ taken from Matthew 27:33-56 And when they came to a place called Golgotha (which means the place of a skull),
they offered him wine to drink, mingled with gall; but when he tasted it, he would not drink it. And when they had crucified him, they divided his garments among them by casting lots; then they sat down and kept watch over him there. And over his head, they put the charge against him, which read, “This is Jesus the King of the Jews.” Then two robbers were crucified with him, one on the right and one on the left. And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads and saying, “You who would destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.” So also the chief priests, with the scribes and elders, mocked him, saying, “He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. He trusts in God; let God deliver him now if he desires him; for he said, ‘I am the Son of God.'” And the robbers who were crucified with him also reviled him in the same way. Now from the sixth hour, there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour. “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” And some of the bystanders hearing it said, “This man is calling Elijah.” And one of them at once ran and took a sponge, filled it with vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave it to him to drink. But the others said, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to save him.” And Jesus cried again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit. And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom; and the earth shook, and the rocks were split; the tombs also were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many. When the centurion and those who were with him, keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were filled with awe, and said, “Truly this was the Son of God!” There were also many women there, looking on from afar, who had followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering to him; among whom were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of the sons of Zebedee.
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