One of the most cruel modes of punishment and torture was undoubtedly crucifixion. It’s thought to have been first introduced by the Persians, adopted by Alexander from his journeys and perfected by the Romans who used it extensively. Normally it would be a scene of cursing and agony as the victims of this horrible death were nailed to a cross of wood. The death of The Lord Jesus was so different from this in many ways.
Roman Legionnaires would be responsible for carrying out crucifixions. They would feel for the depression at the front of the wrist and once found would drive a heavy, square, wrought-iron nail through the wrist and deep into the wood. They would move to the other side and repeat the action being careful not to pull the arms too tightly, but to allow some movement. The left foot is now pressed backward against the right foot, and with both feet extended, toes down, a nail is driven through the arch of each, leaving the knees moderately flexed. The Victim is now crucified. As he slowly sags down with more weight on the nails, excruciating pain shoots along the fingers and up the arms to explode in the brain. As the victim pushes himself upward to avoid this stretching torment, he places his full weight on the nails through his feet. Again there is the searing agony of the nails tearing through the nerves between the metatarsal bones of the feet.
At this point, as the arms fatigue, great waves of cramps sweep over the muscles, knotting them in deep, relentless, throbbing pain. With these cramps comes the inability to push upward. Hanging by his arms, the pectoral muscles are paralyzed and the intercostal muscles are unable to act. Air can be drawn into the lungs, but cannot be exhaled. The victim would fight to raise himself in order to get even one short breath. Finally, carbon dioxide builds up in the lungs and blood stream and the cramps partially subside. Spasmodically, he is able to push himself upward to exhale and bring in the life-giving oxygen. As time goes on it becomes much, much harder with each breath needing every ounce of strength to make.
Despite all this Jesus only makes 7 cries from his death on the cross.
1. Father, Forgive Them, They don’t know what they are doing.
(Luke 23:34) – His heart toward his enemies. Despite that fact that he was taken without any cause and subjected to this horrible, painful death – He prays to His Father to forgive them.
2. This Day You Will Be with Me in Paradise
(Luke 23:43) – His assurance to the repentant. He takes the time to speak to those who are searching for Him. Despite the circumstances. Such is His love
3. Dear woman, here is your son. Here is your mother
(John 19:26-27) – His care for his family. Mary’s last recorded words in the bible are – “Do whatever he tells you!” Great advice for everyone. He takes time to ensure His mother is looked after.
4. My God, My God, Why Have You Forsaken Me?
(Mark 15:34) – His first and only experience of being separated from God. It was our Sin that caused this. The horror of the cross for Jesus was not the pain despite that fact that it would be unbearable. It was His separation from God. He had never experienced this before. He endured what we deserve. He was forsaken so that we could be forgiven.
5. I Thirst
(John 19:28) – His expression of his humanity. This was not a simple experience He has to go through. He was in real physical pain and the experience of the inability to breathe properly was taking it’s toll.
6. It Is Finished
(John 19:30) – His declaration of a completed mission. The Cross was a victory and planned before the foundation of the world. He was made sin for us. He bore the awful wrath that we deserve and God was satisfied.
7. Father, into Your Hands I commit My Spirit
(Luke 23:46) – His surrender and entrance to His Father's presence. He had to willingly give up His Spirit. Death could not take Him.
The reaction of the Roman Centurion, the man responsible for the crucifixion saw something he had never seen before. He would have seen probably thousands of crucifixions but none had been like this. During the middle of the day there was complete darkness. He had heard the cry for God by Jesus from the cross. As he saw Jesus die he said “Surely He was The Son of God”
What is your reaction?. Jesus gave up everything for us. What about you? Will you be like the crowd and the religious rulers they shouted “Crucify Him, Crucify Him”. Oh that it was like the hymn writer Isaac Watts –
Alas! and did my Savior bleed,
and did my Sovereign die?
Would he devote that sacred head
for such a worm as I?
Was it for crimes that I have done,
he groaned upon the tree?
Amazing pity! Grace unknown!
And love beyond degree!
Well might the sun in darkness hide,
and shut its glories in,
when God, the mighty maker, died
for his own creature's sin.
Thus might I hide my blushing face
while his dear cross appears;
dissolve my heart in thankfulness,
and melt mine eyes to tears.
But drops of tears can ne'er repay
the debt of love I owe.
Here, Lord, I give myself away;
'tis all that I can do.