The truth about the crucifixion

CRUCIFIXION: The reality

What do the following have in common?

  1. Pharaoh’s daughter in Exodus 2
  2. Jerosheba, daughter of King Jehoram in 2 Chronicles 23
  3. Ebed-Melech in Jeremiah 38
  4. Gamaliel in Acts 5

ANSWER: They were all used by God to save someone.

  • Pharaoh’s daughter saved Moses from the Nile
  • Jehosheba saved the infant (king) Joash from being murdered
  • Ebed-Melech saved Jeremiah from the pit
  • Gamaliel saved Peter and the Apostles from likely execution

THESE EVENTS OF BEING SAVED had long-term consequences:

  • Moses became Israel’s leader and received the 10 Commandments
  • Joash became king of Israel and continued the line of David that would otherwise have disappeared
  • Jeremiah became so influential that Jesus quoted from him more than He did from any other prophet
  • Peter and the Apostles were used to take the Gospel to the world

The people used by God to save someone weren’t super-stars… but their obedience played a key role in God’s plan of which they could not have imagined at the time…

God values obedience above sacrifice…

  • He is more interested in our availability than in our ability

You may feel that you are too small to be of use to God… too old… too infirm… too slow… too dull… too burdened… too muddled… too poor… too weak…

  • But God uses the most unlikely people and ordinary ones
  • For example, Lois, the mother of Timothy and grandmother Eunice

But when we think of “being saved”, our thoughts naturally turn to our Jesus Christ… our Saviour, the one who saves!

Some years ago, I attended a wedding. During the reception the slightly inebriated minister started arguing with me about the death of Christ and its significance for salvation… including this jaw-dropping comment: “If Jesus knew that He would be resurrected, what was the big deal about the crucifixion?”

In response, I want to offer eight reasons to show that the crucifixion of Christ was the most appalling but necessary death that any man has ever died or will ever die:

1.   Jesus was wrongly accused and innocent of the charges

  • Pilate said that he found nothing wrong with Jesus and wanted to let Him go but was swayed by the religious leaders, who whipped up the crowd

2.   Those who brought the accusations were ungodly and corrupt men

  • Jesus once described them as ‘whitewashed tombs’—clean on the outside but ‘full of dead men’s bones’
  • These were the men who terrorised their own people and invented all sorts of religious laws, rules and regulations to keep them under control… but Jesus came to set people free

3.   The trial was a mockery and the verdict a political one not a legal one

  • Pilate and Herod were in cahoots… Pilate was fearful of being seen as unfaithful to Caesar and so literally washed his hands of the whole business
  • How different from the three men facing the fiery furnace (“God can save us but if not, we will still not bow down”)
  • Or Peter and the Apostles… (“We must serve God first”)

4.   Jesus was betrayed by one of his closest companions and denied by the last person in the world you would think capable of doing so

  • Peter denied Him three times… the disciples ran away, though John and some of the women came back to watch the crucifixion
  • How good to know that the Lord “will never leave us or forsake us” regardless of circumstances.

5.   God the Father turned His face away from the Son… He ‘stepped back’ and allowed it to happen

So it was that Jesus cried out: “Father, why have you forsaken me?

Others in the Scriptures have had this experience…

  1. Joseph in the OT, imprisoned for doing what was right
  2. Job in the midst of agonising circumstances
  3. Hezekiah asked question after question of God to help him understand why God was going to allow Judah to be taken into captivity by the Babylonians
  4. Jeremiah thrown down a pit
  5. John the Baptist sending a message to Jesus: “Are you the Messiah or shall we look for another?”

We, too, can sometimes feel as if God has abandoned us…and it hurts:

  • For us, however, it ISN’T TRUE… God has not forsaken us
  • But for Jesus it WAS true! The Father turned away

6.  The physical pain started with the flogging:

The Romans used a whip called a flagrum to flog the victim’s back, which consisted of small pieces of bone and metal attached to a number of leather strands. The number of blows given to Jesus is not recorded; however, the number of blows in Jewish law was 39 (one fewer than the 40 called for in the Torah to prevent a counting error). During the scourging, the skin was ripped from the back, exposing a bloody mass of tissue and bone. Extreme blood loss occurred, often causing death—or at least unconsciousness. In addition to the flogging, Jesus faced severe beating and torment by the Roman soldiers, including the plucking of His beard and the piercing of His scalp with a crown of thorns. VISUAL AID… a ‘crown of thorns’

7.  The crucifixion itself was appalling:

Ultimately, the mechanism of death in crucifixion was suffocation. To breathe, the victim was forced to push up on his feet to allow for inflation of the lungs. As the body weakened and pain in the feet and legs became unbearable, the victim was forced to trade breathing for pain and exhaustion. Eventually, the victim would succumb in this way, becoming utterly exhausted or lapsing into unconsciousness so that he could no longer lift his body and inflate his lungs. Due to the shallow breathing, the victim’s lungs would begin to collapse. Due to the loss of blood from the scourging, there is an increased strain on the heart, which beats faster to compensate. Fluid builds up in the lungs and the heart eventually fails. Regardless of the precise medical cause of final death, the historical record is very clear—Jesus suffered numerous hours of horrible and sustained torture on the cross of Calvary.

AND… while all this was happening…

8.   Jesus carried the sins of the world in His body on the Cross

  • To bear one’s own guilt and shame is bad enough… but to bear the sins of the WHOLE WORLD is unimaginable
  • But that’s what Jesus did

Many people have been crucified or executed in the most barbaric fashion… including Christians today… And many people have experienced unfairness, betrayal and denial…

  • But no one ever has or ever can suffer as Jesus did

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life

Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!

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