The Cross

The Cross

Death by Roman crucifixion was a result of the whole-body weight being supported by out stretched arms. When nailed to the cross there was a massive strain put on the wrists, arms and shoulders often resulting in a dislocation of the shoulder and elbow joints. The rib cage was constrained in a fixed position, which made it extremely difficult to exhale, and impossible to take a full breath. The main cause of death by Roman crucifixion was due to asphyxiation. Asphyxiation results from lack of exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide due to respiratory failure or disturbance, resulting in insufficient brain oxygen, which leads to unconsciousness and death.

Prior to the crucifixion the Romans used a whip for scourging called a flagrum, which consisted of small pieces of bone and metal attached to a number of leather strands. The skin of the back was ripped to the bone from scourging. Clearly adding to the misery of crucifixion.

The condemned criminals had to carry their cross to the place of execution. Contrary to what is depicted by artists, Jesus likely only carried the cross-arm (called the patibulum) because the upright post (called the stipes) was generally set in the ground already and was used repeatedly. Jesus carried this heavy beam, which would have been rough and splinter-laden to cause even more pain. It must have been about 7-8 feet long and around one foot wide and at least a half of a foot thick. It could have weighed around 100 pounds or more. The fact that Jesus struggled to carry it and needed help was not due to just the weight of the wood but because of Jesus’ scourging by the Romans who had beaten Him to a bloody pulp. He would have lost so much blood by the time that He was carrying it that He was unable to make it the entire distance. The distance from the scourging to Golgatha was about two football fields in length.

The nails used in crucifixion were about ¾ inch wide and around 6 to 8 inches long. When they were driven through the hands and feet, they were hammered flat on the back side of the wooden beam so that they would keep their impaled victims in place.

What was actually accomplished by Jesus enduring this suffering and horrible death?

According to the Bible, sin must be paid for (; ). When Jesus died, he suffered as a substitute in the place of and on behalf of fallen humanity. Jesus’ death made it possible for us to be declared righteous, based on faith in Jesus (; ). Jesus’ death was not merely a statement or an expression of love, but a payment that satisfied God’s demand. Christ’s death was necessary for several reasons.

First, sin alienates us from God (). Those who are controlled by sin cannot please God (–8). Jesus’ death made peace with God possible (–21). Christ came, not just to provide us with a godly example, but to die on our behalf and to bear the cost for our sin ().

Second, God is holy (, ). God’s holy character requires that sin be punished (; ) Sin makes us the objects of God’s wrath until the penalty of sin is paid. By laying down His own life, Jesus paid the price on our behalf, satisfying God’s demand (; ).

Third, the presence of sin renders us helpless (–12). We cannot save ourselves (Ephesian 2: 8-9). We do not have the will or the ability to offer anything acceptable to God on our own behalf (–5). We not only suffer from the guilt and penalty of Adam’s original sin, but also from the effects of our own sinful nature and actions (3 classifications of sin: imputed, inherited and personal) (–15; ).

God, who is rich in mercy, sent Jesus to die in our place! Jesus’ death was more than an attempt to reverse the human course started by Adam; it served as a substitute payment for the trespasses of all mankind.

The cross of Jesus points to an empty grave because He lives!! As we approach Easter this year, what is your response to Jesus and what was accomplished by his birth, death and resurrection? Is it obedience? Is it praise and thanksgiving? Is it repentance? In we have the account of Thomas who did not believe that Jesus was alive. Jesus appeared to him and said, ”Stop doubting and believe.” I really love Thomas’ response, “my Lord and my God!” They are words I want to exclaim as well, as we contemplate the nature of Christ’s sacrifice.

God of redemptive grace, you have given me the astonishing gift of being reconciled to you through my faith in the person and work of Jesus. You have overcome my enmity and given me the gift of peace with you now and the hope of peace and life eternal! Thank you that I can bring my sin and sorrow to you because you sent Jesus to suffer and die in my place. May I walk in daily utter dependence on you, in Jesus name I pray. Amen.

23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (ESV)

18 knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. (ESV)

28 even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (ESV)

21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (ESV)

2:1 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins (ESV)

For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. (ESV)

19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, (ESV)

13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”— (ESV)

“There is none holy like the Lord;
there is none besides you;
there is no rock like our God. (ESV)

16 since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” (ESV)

21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (ESV)

12 Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned— (ESV)

24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. (ESV)

But he was wounded for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his stripes we are healed. (ESV)

10 as it is written:

“None is righteous, no, not one; (ESV)

2:1 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins (ESV)

12 Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned— (ESV)

23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, (ESV)

24 Now Thomas, one of the Twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.”

26 Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” 28 Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (ESV)

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