It happened during an important national holiday. It was a Friday. A certain outdoor event, which had been hastily put together, drew a sizeable crowd. Most attendees exhibited angry and intense countenances. A small number were obviously grief-stricken.
At hand were three men being crucified. Each of them suffered greatly from this horrific form of crucifixion. The Persians had invented crucifixion in their day, but the Romans had subsequently picked it up in their day and practiced it frequently with ruthless intent. And, it was the Romans who were inflicting the capital punishment this particular Friday in the city of Jerusalem.
Crucifixion was utterly cruel. Those punished were affixed to crosses of wood and lifted off the ground. First, seven-inch nails would be driven through each wrist to support the weight of the arms. The nail would cut through the median nerve causing immense pain. It would also paralysis the hand. Then the feet were nailed together to a small elevated platform causing the
the knees to be bent at a forty-five angle.
Because of the hanging of the body, it was suffocation that caused death, which could be postponed as long the person had strength in the legs to push off of the small platform to suck in a gulp of air. But, once strength there gave out, the load was transferred to the arms. This caused the shoulders to be pulled from the sockets, making the arms inches longer. Elbows and wrists followed causing more elongation and pain.
Tremendous physical suffering — but, it was the victim in the middle who suffered the most. The one in the middle was Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the promised Messiah. He was not deserving to be put on a Cross. He was completely innocent. That in itself intensified His suffering above the other two. The other two were guilty of their misdeeds. But, not Jesus Christ, because He never at any point committed a crime or committed a sin.
Nonetheless, He suffered more so because of the spiritual load He bore. Although most of the crowd did not know it, His death on that Cross was divinely planned for a distinct purpose.
It was for the purpose of providing Salvation for all of mankind that we might have a way to get right with God. It was point-specifically God’s way, about which God had been telling and describing for a long time. God completely informed us all what was expected. So, what did Jesus Christ have to do beyond the physical suffering that was endured by Him on the Cross to fulfill the divine purpose?
First, it was ordained for Jesus Christ to provide the exact basis for mankind to get right with God. The basis was blood. Blood had to be shed, because God had clarified, “For it is blood that makes atonement for the soul.” Despite the confusions of contemporary religions and secular humanism, men stand or falls spiritually according to how they decide to relate to the blood that Jesus Christ shed as the perfect way and the only way to be able to get right with God.
Second, another critical factor is involved. It has to do with sin, which are transgressions against the God’s Law and the perfect will of God — mankind is full of sin. Sin evokes the wrath of God. That is the penalty. Rightfully so. And, while Jesus Christ was on the Cross, His suffering was compounded by the pouring out of God’s wrath on Jesus Christ for every sin that had been committed, for every contemporary sin committed, and every future sin that will be committed.
That is a lot of sins, and, consequently, a lot of penalties, each involving the wrath of God. Jesus Christ did that on our behalf as He endured the wrath of God for our sins.
Jesus Christ eventually died at three in the afternoon. I am aligned with the scholars that believe that, despite His intense suffering, Jesus Christ actually died of a broken and burst heart. When the soldier pierced His side, the fluid around the heart and lungs had dropped down and poured out of the cut.
What pressure the Lord endured.
I do not understand how He stood it — other than the fact that He loved us so much.
Pastor Ron Branch lives in Mason County and is pastor of Hope Baptist Church, Middleport, Ohio. Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author.