I know it’s a day late but today I want to talk about what Crucifixion is really about.
A few of you may have seen the Passion of the Christ, that is probably as close as you will get to what it is like.Most people have only seen sanitized pictures of Jesus in a loincloth with a bit of blood here and there.
Once sentenced you were scourged. That means a whip with small pieces of bone attached to the tips of the strands. This would literally rip your skin to shreds. The aim was to cause blood loss so you died more quickly.
Then there was the walk to Golgotha (meaning “place of the skull”) carrying the cross piece of your own crucifix.
Historical inaccuracy No.1 The whole cross was NOT carried. Your arms would be strapped across the beam where your arms would be nailed/ tied for your execution. This not meant you couldn’t balance so would fall on your face every so often it also caused huge strain on your heart and lungs due to the position your arms are in. Imagine your back on fire as the majority of the crowd jeers and spits on you while you stagger your way to death, knowing your friends are in there somewhere hardly able to look at the agony you are in.
Historical accuracy No.2 You were stripped out of all your clothes. No artfully draped loincloths. That’s right all. Crucifixion was meant to be utterly degrading for even daring to try and usurp Roman authority (which is why Jesus was crucified, false charges but that’s beside the point), it was a political death, which brings me to historical inaccuracy No.3 the two men Crucified on either side of Jesus could not have been thieves. Crucifixion was ONLY for people who tried to overthrow their Roman occupiers. In most places they would crucify people in droves (particularly after a large rebellion) along the sides of the roads. The message? “Mess with Rome this will happen to YOU.”
Historical inaccuracy No.4 The nails would not be through the feet and hands but rather between the two bones of the arm in the wrist (so there was more support for the body) and through the ankles once again to support the body and allow the victim to push themselves up to take the strain off their arms and then sag as it hurt their ankles and legs, the cause of death is a combination of shock, pain, exhaustion and suffocation due to the way the position compresses the lungs. Sometimes it could take up to several days for someone to die. Hence the request for the soldiers to break victims legs as it meant they died more quickly.
Jesus refused all attempts to ease his pain, the wine offered him would be laced with a drug to dull his senses and the pain but he refused.And as if it wasn’t enough, Jesus took on the punishment for every sin, past, present and future, He felt the abandonment of God that so many of us feel: "Eloi, Eloi lamach Sabachthani?”
"My God….my God. Why have you forsaken me?"
And even after He rose in glory, he still bore the marks of his crucifixion. And He took it back with him to heaven. That suffering became part of the trinity and is therefore part of God. God knows what it is to be rejected, to be alone, to be lost, to be scared.
And He shares it with us now.
Lord Jesus, help us to remember what you did for us, in it’s full horror and agony. Help us to remember that through that we know how much you love us. Punished for a crime you did not commit and punished for us so we never have to be without you again.