Mark 16:15

"Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature"

Crucifixion

“And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified Him...” (Luke 23:23). “Crucify Him, crucify Him!” No words were more dreaded by the criminals of Jesus' day than were these (Mark 15:6-14). No death was so thorough; no shame so complete. When Paul tells us of the humiliation of Jesus in Philippians 2:5-8, culminating in the statement, “He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross,” he is announcing the most loving act of God toward man. As John stated, “The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us” (John 1:14).
Modern man may find it difficult to appreciate the ancient attitude toward this method of capital punishment. Paul said,”cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree” (Gal. 3:13). It was a wretched way to die. It was reserved for the worst of criminals. Cicero once described it as “the most cruel and terrifying punishment.” The Hebrew writer said that Jesus “endured the cross, despising the shame” (Heb. 12:2).
Before Jesus was crucified, the Bible says, “Then Pilate therefore took Jesus, and scourged Him” (John 19:1). Scourging was called the “little death.” It preceded the “big death,” crucifixion. At this time Jesus was severely whipped. Although the severity of the scourging is not discussed in the four gospel accounts, it is implied in one of the epistles (I Pet. 2:24). It is not known whether the number of lashes was limited to 39 in accordance with Jewish law. When a man was scourged, there was pain beyond the memory of pain. Only the Son of God could hold back the high-pitched screams of unbearable pain; and we are not told that He did or did not. When you contemplate these things, perhaps these words of Isaiah will have deeper meaning: “But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed” (Isa. 53:5).
Following the scourging, there was a parade to the execution grounds. Roman politicians liked to make an example of condemned men. The parade was long and slow through public streets; this was designed to serve as a warning to others that Rome dealt quickly and mercilessly. It was also a time when taunting and mocking of the condemned would take place. The Bible says, “And after they had mocked Him, they led Him away to crucify Him” (Matt. 27:1). “And there followed Him a great company of people” (Luke 23:27). “And He, bearing His cross, went forth into a place of a skull, which is called in the Hebrew Golgotha” (John 19:17).
Next Jesus was fastened to the cross. Historians of this type of punishment tell us that the condemned was held by four soldiers, and a centurion (who served as the executioner) would drive 5-inch to 7-inch iron spikes into both the hands and feet. The wounds in the hands would send fire down through the arms; fainting only relieved the pain temporarily; it was darkness and pain; then pain and darkness. The pain in the back, arms, hands, feet, and crotch was a dull, throbbing, terrible, endless pain. The pain builds up; it multiplies; there is not a moment of relief.
Below the cross the curious wait, fascinated by the torture. Like vultures, they are eager for blood! This gruesome scene is played out slowly. Dying should be a private thing, not a public spectacle. There is something obscene about being watched by a mob of people standing around waiting for you to die.
On the cross, thirst sets in; water is denied! What has happened up until now is child's play. One by one the muscles of the back gather in tight knotty cramps. There is no escaping them, no pulling out of them, no gentle massaging hands to ease them away. After two hours on a cross, every muscle in the body is locked in solid knots. Many men shrieked themselves into insanity on the cross.
Can you now appreciate His cry, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” (Matt. 27:46). “It is finished” (John 18:30) are beautiful words. Now, there is nothing more that they can do to My Lord! CHRIST WAS CRUCIFIED! He took your place and mine; we were all lost, doomed, hopeless; but He bought us back and there on the cross, obtained eternal redemption for us (I Pet. 1:18-25; I John 2:2). It was our sins that sent Him to the cross; it was His boundless love that held Him there. As we sing, “Jesus paid it all, ALL to Him I owe; Sin had left a crimson stain, He washed it white as snow.” Have you taken advantage of what Jesus did for you by becoming obedient from the heart to His commands? (Rom. 6:17-18).

Paul M. Wilmoth