There is no description of the actual crucifixion in John’s gospel. John simply states that “they crucified Jesus” along with two others. In fact, there is no description of crucifixion in any of the four gospels! This stands in contrast to most modern presentations of crucifixion, which seem intent on the gory details. Mel Gibson’s Passion of the Christ is a prime example of using shock and gore in depicting Jesus’ execution. I find it rather disturbing when well-meaning Christians attempt to following their Lord by hammering nails into their flesh. This totally misses the point of the crucifixion and alienates people who do not understand the point of such self-mutilations. The gospel writers were more interested in why Jesus died, rather than how the Romans tortured him.
Crucifixion was not invented by the Romans, but they perfected it as a method of execution for rebels against the empire. They called it the “extreme penalty” or “the humiliation.” It was typically reserved for the lower classes, especially conquered peoples. The Romans considered crucifixion too degrading for a Roman citizen, so it was only used to punish citizens who had committed treason or fled in battle. This sadistic death was the death that Jesus endured. He voluntarily submitted to a death on a cross, and all of the beatings and insults that were a part of the process. He went willingly because he knew that by his death he might bring life into the world.
The Jews knew well the punishment of crucifixion. Jews who resisted Antiochus IV Epiphanies (167-164 B.C.) were crucified (Antiq. 12.5.4). Alexander Janneus, the Hasmonean high priest, executed 800 political opponents (many were likely pharisees, Antiq. 13.14.2). In 4 B.C. the Roman general Varus lined the road from Sepphoris to Galilee with 2000 crucified Jewish rebels (War 2.5.2, Antiq. 17.10.10). A bit later in the first century the procurator Tiberius Alexander (A.D. 46-48) crucified the sons of Judas the Galilean (Antiq. 20.5.2).
That Jesus was crucified would have been offensive to Jew and Gentile. If the leader of one’s religion executed in this way, it would seem to be proof that your religion was flawed! The Romans considered talk of a cross to be impolite. One did not describe the process or talk about the details. Since death by crucifixion was intentionally sadistic and cruel, it was simply not a appropriate topic for conversation. It was an extreme punishment meant to keep conquered people in their place.
To the Jew, anyone killed by crucifixion was under the curse. The Old Testament said that anything that was hung on a tree was cursed (Deut 21:22-23). It was the ultimate insult to the Jew of the first century to be told that not only did the Messiah come and they did not recognize him, but that he had been crucified as a common criminal. Christianity was blasphemy to the Jew.
To the Greek, the death of Jesus on the cross was foolishness. It was strange to think that the true God of the universe might take human form, but it was folly to think that when he did take human form, he was killed. And worse, he allowed himself to be killed! Christianity is a strange religion in that it worships a God who willingly sacrificed himself.
I think that the Cross must be central to Christian preaching, but we must follow the Gospels and emphasize why Jesus died, not how. The scandal of the cross is not the violence of the act, but the subversiveness of God making the ultimate sacrifice to atone for sin.
26 thoughts on “John 19:18 – “They Crucified Him…””
I really like what you said about how the gospel writers were focused on the why Jesus was crucified rather than the how. Sometimes, I feel like we are believers can get too focused on what happened to Jesus in the crucifixion, that we miss the fact that He rose from the dead! I have seen a lot of cross necklaces, but where are the ones have the empty tomb. You have not have one without the other, but the other is missing from our focus.
I think that very much apply to our life when we are dealing with the how and the why.
When we look at the how in our spiritual life, we will see a delay in growth with the Lord.
For example, when I felt a nudge in my spirit to go to Guyana, I became frustrated and worried that I would not get the time off of work and that I would not have the money to go. I became so obsessed with figuring out the details of the trip durning that first month, that I lost the joy of going. Thankfully, the Lord gently corrected my thinking and started to remind me why He called me to go.
When we draw our attention to the why, in any part of our lives, we will be encouraged.
I never realized that John’s gospel never described the crucifixion. Growing up hearing the story from three other gospels and then also people telling you what happened during the crucifixion, it never crossed my mind that the gospel itself never explains it. I would agree with this blog in saying that people today tend to focus on the gore and details of the crucifixion rather than the reason the crucifixion happened at all. Reading through the gospel of John, the author is continually pointing everything Jesus does to him being the Messiah and redeemer, including his death on the cross. I think it is very wise and important than that he did not go into any more physical detail about the death of Jesus but focused on the spiritual because this is what is truly important as seen stated at the end of the gospel in verse 21:25. The fact that Jesus’s death can save people’s souls past this life is so important that the details of the actual brutality of the death don’t matter. John wants his readers to understand what the actions behind Jesus’s death mean for all of humanity and that his death determines our lives after we die, the outcome changes whether or not we believe in his death and resurrection.
I would say though that there is an element of understanding the meaning behind a death on a cross within the culture at the time would be beneficial to understanding the character of Christ in his death. As pointed out, the cross was considered the most humiliating and shameful way to die. If this is the case, then understanding that Jesus went willingly shows us that Jesus endured the worst form of death imagined for the sake of love. This makes Philippians 2:8 make more sense when it says, “And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!”. The idea of God loving humanity so much to take our form and die for us, in a way that is considered too horrible to talk about, is almost too much to comprehend. This is why understanding the brutality of Jesus’s death shows his character, but we must not dwell on its gruesomeness but rather the joy that comes out of it.
I actually wrote about the crucifixion of Jesus at length in my last essay. In this contemporary church age, the cross is talked about with such flippancy that many people have gone to the other extreme and tried to describe the literal process in detail. The writers of the New Testament did neither of these things. They simply, as stated in the above essay, focused on why Jesus would willing submit to such a heinous death. Of course Jesus had to die–but death on a cross? That seems too cruel, too out of place; the Greeks thought it was simply foolish. Jesus is all-knowing and omnipotent, so couldn’t He have simply entered humanity at a different time, one that was a bit more humane with their execution process? Perhaps. Or perhaps Jesus was proving to us that the suffering on this earth is not worthy to be compared to heaven. When He was executed, even though He was suffering, Jesus was not dwelling upon that fact. He was thinking of the glory He once had that would be restored back to Him after His mission was accomplished. As the agony pressed on, with each moment that passed, He was closer to completing the will of His Father; in other words, He was closer to heaven, His home. Kostenberger argues in his book that without the crucifixion and the resurrection of Jesus cannot be separated. They were both in the will of the Father, and without both elements, there would be no salvation. So, let us not shy away from the topic of crucifixion, but rather embrace it as our salvation and destiny. There is great joy set before us.
Initially reading this article, I didn’t know if I agreed with the idea of more graphic depictions of the crucifixion being wrong or inappropriate but after thinking about it, I totally understand this point. I do think that because our American culture is significantly more removed from the practice of crucifixion, there is benefit in learning just how awful Christ’s death really was but if the topic is dwelt upon, we do lose the “why” of the crucifixion. I think that guilt can even creep in sometimes when the event of the crucifixion is focused on more than the “why”. Like, “Jesus endured that for YOUR SIN.” That would make me feel super awful if I were a non-believer hearing that taken out of an eternal context!
A lot of the time when there is talk or a film on the crucifixion the main thing I remember from it is how much pain that Jesus must have went through, but that was not the main idea that John was trying to get across. John and the rest of the gospels were more focused on why Jesus was crucified rather than how. I never thought about how when the leader of your religion is crucified it pretty much means that your religion was wrong, at least in the eyes of everyone else. And the fact that Jesus willingly accepted his crucifixion makes it seem stranger that people would want to follow a man like Jesus. This brings up a key point of Christianity, that we need to focus on Jesus and eternity with the father, as having a “popular” worldly belief is not the goal. John wrote about who Jesus truly was, and telling mainly the story of the journey of how Jesus reached the day of crucifixion and not focusing on the extreme pain and suffering that He endured shows more about who He was. Jesus did not only accept His death, but He chose it by not fighting it, and that is true worship for our Father. I find it interesting that some of the people who were looking for Jesus to arrest him were Jews, and they are the ones who would be most insulted by his coming and being crucified as a common criminal.
I think it’s very interesting that none of the gospels talks about the actual details of Jesus’ crucifixion, before today I honestly never knew that because I haven’t actually sat down and read any of the gospels about the actual crucifixion. Growing I’ve heard the story many times about Jesus carrying his cross up the hill while being whipped and being nailed to the cross and thrones pressed into his head and being speared in his side and along with hearing this story time and time again I’ve seen it reenacted several times on Easter sunday and as I read this post and read other comments most people are the same way and one comment really stuck out to me talking about people are more focused on what happened rather than why it happened. When you hear the story and see it reenacted with this horrible details it almost makes you forget the purpose of it and what it really symbolizes you kind of get caught up in feeling sorry for Jesus because its so gruesome and looks so bad that we forget He did this for us, this was all apart of the plan for us to saved and forgiven for our sins so that we can have salvation. The getting beat and dying is a major factor but the most important thing was Him rising again that’s what makes us believers and where we gain our salvation from.
After reading this I had to go double check and read through John’s account of Jesus’ final moments. I had never realized how little it emphasizes how he died, but the moments leading up to death are depicted in great detail. I had never noticed that Jesus’ death on the cross after claiming to be king of the Jews was so humiliating to the Jews. Reading the chief priest’s interaction with Pilate after Pilate writes “King of the Jews” for the sign above Jesus, the chief priest asked Pilate to write that Jesus claimed to be king of the Jews (John 19:21-22). This intrigues me because Pilate was hesitant to let the people kill Jesus, and then he kept the sign to say that Jesus is King of the Jews instead of changing it. I know we will never know, but I wonder if when Pilate saw Jesus if he believe he truly was the King of the Jews. Jesus’ interactions even up until his death were so sacrificial and loving. Even in the way he makes sure his mother will have a caretaker as he is on his way to be crucified amazes me.
Growing up I only had seen short clips and scenes of movies that depicted Jesus being crucified. I always felt guilty for not wanting to watch these scenes because my teachers and pastors said they represented what truly happened to Jesus. As an adult, I understand why they wanted me to watch these clips (so that I understood how real it was), but I should have never felt guilty since it is much more important to understand why God did this instead of how it happened (Long, 2012, para. 1). Köstenberger (2013) mentions that “John’s account of Jesus’s crucifixion is somber and restrained” (p. 170). This was intentional on John’s behalf since it was an inappropriate topic of discussion, even in written form, due to its gruesome and humiliating nature (Long, 2012, para. 4). The point of shock for John’s readers should not be Jesus dying in this way. The true amazement should come from the fact that the God of the universe stepped down from glory to become a man and willingly died (even on a cross) for all the sins of the world because He valued having an eternal relationship with us more than His own convenience! In our minds, this makes absolutely no logical sense and is radicle for God to value us that much. This is what John wants his readers to understand; that they are so valued and loved that Jesus willingly gave up His spirit on the cross (ESVSB, p. 2068) to be with us forever.
I completely understand that we as Christians should be focusing on the why, not the how Jesus died. I also agree that we should keep the cross centralized in preaching. Jesus bought salvation with the price of His life. He died so we do not have to. I think the most important thing to remember is, what Jesus suffered on the cross is what we deserved. Talking about how He suffered is not a terrible sin, but like P Long said, we should be focusing on why Jesus died just as the gospel writers did. We also need to understand that we are no longer entitled to suffer what Jesus did. Yes, it is what we deserve because of our sins, but we need to remember what Ephesians 2 teaches. We were dead in our sins. But God made us alive in Christ, and seated us in the heavenly places. It is important to remember why Jesus suffered, because that is what we were entitled to, but now we are alive in Christ and presently seated in Him. We no longer need to die because Jesus already did for us. He suffered the rejection for us.
I totally agree with the point that we need to focus more on why Jesus died on the cross rather than how. We could totally go into the degree of pain he faced, specific details, etc. but the point being he died to give us life, to bear our sin and to carry it on his shoulders. When I share with my unbelieving dad, I describe the crucifixion in these words, ‘he did not have to die for you, he did not have to endure the excruciating pain, but he chose to. He loved you enough to give you a chance to spend eternity with God the Father.’ I remember telling my campers at the camp I work at in Alaska about how he did not have to die for us and I can still remember my camper Micah responding with, “wow I never realized that before, that he really did not have to die for me.” That was one of my happiest moments with my campers, because I needed them to get past the average story telling of the crucifixion. When I say average I am talking about the teachers or preachers who tell the story in a very boring or unenthusiastic way. I needed them to realize the extreme importance of the crucifixion and that goes back to realizing and accepting the truth that he did not have to do for me but that he did because his love for us is bigger and wider than we can ever fathom!
The Gospel of John and the synoptic Gospels do not give a description of Jesus’ crucifixion. They focus on why Jesus was crucified instead of what the crucifixion looked like. “Crucifixion was not invented by the Romans, but they perfected it as a method of execution for rebels against the empire” (Long). The Romans mainly only punished those of the lower classes with crucifixion. Roman citizens were considered to be too good for crucifixion by the Roman government, the form of execution was too degrading for them. The original audience was well aware of what crucifixion was and just how awful it was. Many of the Jewish people were executed by crucifixion. The Jews saw those who were crucified as being under the curse because Deuteronomy 21:22-23 said that “anything that was hung on a tree was cursed” (Long). The fact that Jesus who was the Messiah was crucified was considered an insult to the Jews by the Jewish community. Crucifixion was seen as a cruel and humiliating way for someone’s life to end. I agree that the presentation of the Gospel should focus on why Jesus died and what his sacrificial death and resurrection does for those who have repented and believe in Him. However, I also think that understanding what crucifixion was and how it was seen can help open our eyes to what Jesus went through for us. He went through a cruel, extremely painful, and humiliating death so that we can have an eternity that we don’t deserve.
Something that stood out to me is how the gospel writers were more interested in “why” Jesus died, rather than the “how” the romans tortured him. I think it is good to know how Jesus was tortured but I think it is crucial for us understand why Jesus died. During class, the film called the passion of christ was briefly mentioned. I have previously watched the movie a few times and recalling the images that were created in the film was interesting for me to reflect on. Jesus is all-knowing and all-powerful. I find it fansancing that Jesus had to know what was going to take place. All the major and minor details that would cause him unimaginable pain. But I do believe that Jesus saw the vision and glory that would come about this event. Towards the end of the blog post you mentioned that Jesus “allowed himself to be killed.” This is a crazy thing to think about. First I have never thought of it like this. But as mentioned before Jesus knew the truth and knew what was going to take place. You mention how Christianity is a strange religion because we worship a God who willingly sacrifices himself. Doing what Jesus did was the ultimate sacrifice. It was the ultimate price.
I have to admit that I never read the part where Jesus gets crucified but did see the Passion of the Christ when I was around four years old. I could only imagine back then where the humiliating torture tactic was used on Jesus that puts a negative light on Him. It makes sense for the Romans to consider any talk of any cross and/or executioner that executed the crucifixion to be scandalous (Long, p46). I don’t even think nowadays modern executioners or talk about any torture device wouldn’t bring much light in at all in conversations.
Another thing I found interesting was after Jesus was sentenced to be crucified, Pilate had prepared a sign that read “Jesus of Nazareth, The King of the Jews” in Greek, Latin, and Aramaic (Kōstenberger, p181). This seems quite comical as the chief priests protested against that they never said that but is what Jesus claimed to be; nevertheless, Pilate left the sign on it (John 19:19-22).
This article really brings to surface an issue within Christian beliefs which is, do professing Christians truly understand the extent to which Jesus Christ had gone in order to bring about atonement and salvation from sin? Far too often professing Christians think that the only means for salvation is to say a simple prayer of “I’m sorry for my sins” and then think that they are saved unto salvation. But there is far more involved when it comes to receiving salvation, and this includes the need to recognize what Jesus Christ had done on the cross. Because humanity became so wicked and disobedient we were considered unrighteous before God and therefore were deserving of God’s wrath because of our sinful nature. But through the crucifixion of Jesus Christ on the cross, those who have faith in Him alone and repent of their sins receive salvation by grace through faith. As a result, the death of Jesus Christ should not be taken lightly; especially because it is the core of the Christian faith. What Jesus Christ did on the cross allowed for those who have faith in Jesus Christ and repented from sin to receive salvation so that they would no longer be under the wrath of God. Yet so many professing Christians forget this purpose in which Jesus Christ was crucified and begin to believe that they only received salvation because they were a “good person,” when in reality not one person is considered good or worthy to stand before God. In addition, although the gory details of the crucifixion are not needed in order to bring non-believers to salvation, it is the need of understanding the purpose for why Jesus Christ was crucified which would bring a non-believer to salvation. Only when a non-believer understands the true depths of the love that God had in order to save humanity from their sinful nature, that non-believer will come to the realization of how desperately they need Jesus Christ as that savior by faith through grace alone and who would become the atonement for sin resulting in salvation.
Even people who aren’t Christians know that Jesus was crucified. It is common knowledge. People are also aware that being crucified is a very brutal process. However, as the blog post mentions, throughout the scriptures, there isn’t really any description of how the crucifixion was done. Obviously, we know Jesus took the cross on His back and walked with it, but there seems to be a lack of the gory details we often associate with this account. As mentioned in the post, this likely was popularized by “The Passion of Christ”. Also mentioned in the post, it clearly seems that the authors of the gospels felt it was more important to emphasis why Jesus did, rather than give a description of how He did.
Something that is also interesting when it comes to the practice of Crucifixions was that they were not done to people who were Roman Citizens roman citizens had much more chance to not be punished harshly, as seen frequently with Paul. Rather, Crucifixions were used as a way to embarrass the non-romans, as a punishment. It was also a well-known form of execution, one of Rome’s favorites, as it was used for people who resisted against certain Roman emperors. Even worse, at the time, cross wasn’t seen as we see them today as a beacon of hope, but rather was seen as a form of curse, or embarrassment, when looking traditionally. Because Jesus died on the cross, the way that it was seen shifted from a form of embarrassment, to the beacon of hope, of a coming savior.
I have heard many people talk about the act of crucifixion and what happens during crucifixion rather than talk about why Jesus was crucified. I completely agree with you that it should be the other way around and rather than talking about how Jesus was crucified, we should instead focus more on the reason why He was crucified. Growing up, I did not realize that people had been crucified long before Jesus was nailed to the cross. I figured it had been happening for a while, but I didn’t know that it had been around as long as it has. After learning about more things, such as the intertestamental period, I now can see how long it has happened. I think that there is some importance to teaching people what happens during crucifixion in things such as the Passion of the Christ movie, but overall, we should be teaching the Gospel and the reason that Jesus died. That should be our main focus, but talking about how painful it is can help at times to show people how much Jesus was willing to go through because He loves us so much. I think that it also depends on the person that you are talking to.
Like the other students, I think that it is especially interesting that people tend to focus on “how” Jesus was crucified rather than “why”. Reflecting back on the rest of the gospel of John, I recognize now that there was a lot of building up of why Jesus was going to be crucified. Even though there were a lot of cultural differences between the Jews and Gentiles, there was still the main message that Jesus was attempting to relay to the people – His death through crucifixion would provide them with the opportunity for salvation. Something that I found interesting in this blog post referencing the cultural differences was that of the belief that anyone hanging on a cross (Deuteronomy 21:22-23). This meant that certain people believed that Jesus was cursed, thus leading to the disbelief in His power and authority. I think that John’s approach in writing his gospel while focusing on the purpose of Jesus’ death and crucifixion is most influential when it comes to understanding the purpose of Jesus’ ministry as a whole. Jesus’ purpose was to die on the cross, in order to provide mankind the opportunity for eternal salvation. The first Synoptic gospel explains that “even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28). Jesus paid the debt for our sin, but the people lacked the recognition of that as they focused on the brutal details of His crucifixion and what that meant culturally. John’s account of Jesus’ crucifixion is a great reminder of where the focus is often placed, and where we should place our focus, concerning the purpose of Jesus’ death on the cross.
I could not agree more with this blog post! I know that the cross typically represents Christ, but oftentimes I would say that people think about how Jesus died rather than why, as Long pointed out. I actually had no idea that the Bible does not describe how Jesus died and was crucified, I am glad that through history we are able to learn that though! I think it is vital to know what Jesus went through for the sake of saving humanity. John 19:18 says, “There they crucified him, with two others, one and either side, and Jesus between them” (ESV). The Bible is very simple and straightforward. However, it is even more important to know why Jesus died and suffered as he did. Crucifixion was degrading and made for a criminals death; one that Jesus suffered. Not only did Jesus fulfill many prophecies, such as drinking sour wine, but he fulfilled the prophecies of the coming Messiah, the final sacrifice who would take away the sins of humanity. Jesus died to save the souls of all those who believed in him; and most mocked him, both Jews and Gentiles. Jesus was crucified to be humiliated and somehow invalidate the religion that he was founding. The authorities did their best to tear down all that Jesus had built; but it was too late. Jesus died and rose again, saving all those who put their faith in him. I want to be able to think of why Jesus died, not just how, when I remember his sacrifice and crucifixion.
Its hard to think if there is a cultural stigma tied to a means of death equivalent to the views held in the past of crucifixion. Other methods of death seemingly lack the direct stigma from scripture as provided by Deuteronomy 21, except other deaths via tree. It makes me wonder what Jesus thinks of the current use of cross imagery in the church. After all something that was in his time strongly associated with being cursed, or extreme punishment is now associated with him. Or perhaps what would the reaction of a first century Galilean to the images commonly found within Christian churches and households today. Such a thing would probably seeming incredibly absurd, disturbing, and morbid to them. After all what would a modern persons reaction be to a group that regularly celebrates another symbol of execution, putting it in their homes, places of worship, clothing, and making miniature versions of the symbol to wear as jewelry? If you were to stumble into such a society today one would have to wonder if one had stumbled into the territory of some bizarre death cult, or possibly worse. As such to me the cross as an instrument of death seems a poor symbol for the Christian faith. Instead what is important is that Jesus did die, and then was resurrected, making perhaps the empty tomb a better symbol, though one that is harder to communicate and depict. Though the use of the cross as a symbol does make me wonder if Jesus had been executed in some other way, would we today use that as a symbol of our faith?
John doesn’t record any details about Jesus’ crucifixion; all he says on the topic is that they crucified Jesus. He doesn’t share any of the gruesome details on Jesus’ death. “The Gospels writers were more interested in why Jesus died, rather than how the Romans tortured Him”(P. Long, 2012). The reason that Jesus died through crucifixion wasn’t to highlight the torture that the Romans used, but to highlight why Jesus died. Jesus died the way that He did to show that He will go through anything for those who believe Him and to show that He is the Son of God.
The Gospel of John does not mention the specifics of the crucifixion, just stating that Jesus was crucified. The importance behind this is not to give the torture itself the attention but the reasoning behind it. The concept of crucifixion was developed as not only a torturous form of death but an embarrassing one as well. The only people that suffered crucifixion were those that were deemed as terrorists or those guilty of treason against the crown. Jesus willingly allowed himself to be put through this torture so that others that believed would not suffer the consequences of death. The Jews involved the Romans because they ultimately wanted to humiliate Jesus and under the rules of the Sanhedrin, they lacked the power and authority to do so. It was believed that Jews that were crucified remained cursed and the irony of that statement is that when Jesus came, they didn’t recognize him which according to the biblical signs they should have. Furthermore, when they give him the assumed label of “king of the Jews” they crucify him in the ultimate form of humiliation against him. The Romans did not want to be involved but the people forced their hands. Everything ended as it was foretold and led to Jesus being the savior to all, the lamb that was slain.
I never thought about how the description of Jesus’s crucifixion is never mentioned throughout the gospels, but it definitely makes sense that the writers were more interested in describing the reason for Jesus’s crucifixion rather than including the details of how it happened. I agree with Long when he mentions that we should focus more on why Jesus died rather than how it happened. It is important to think about the extreme pain and violence that Jesus endured out of his love for us, as it demonstrates the lengths that he would go to in order that we might have a relationship with him. However, the details of exactly how it happened is not as important as why he was crucified. Jesus ultimately allowed himself to go through the violence and pain in order that he would take our place and provide atonement for our sins. As mentioned in John, Jesus’s hour had come to be crucified and eventually resurrected so that he could save the world from eternal separation from God. The whole purpose of God sending Jesus to earth was for his death and resurrection to occur so he could atone sin and provide people the opportunity to have a relationship with Him. As Long mentions, people might think Christianity is a strange religion because it worships a God who chooses to sacrifice himself; however, it is because he sacrificed himself that he demonstrated the ultimate display of love, and he was willing to do this even if people chose not to love him in return. He willingly sacrificed himself to be crucified out of his love for us and to give God glory by providing atonement for our sins.
The crucification is honestly the climax of John’s gospel- or so one may think, until Jesus is resurrected. It is so amazingly profound to me how one can examine this passage in a whole new way- and that is me recently while reading this blog post and reading the chapter. I never truly took the time to examine and think about what it looked like for Jesus to die in this fashion in the greater context of the society at that time. To think that Jesus being crucified would have been offensive to Jews and Gentiles? That is really interesting to me. It would seem that this kind of death would invalidate the proof of Jesus’ divinity- what kind of perfect man who dies a gruesome, criminal’s death on the cross. It is not surprising that Jew and Gentile people thought that way in this moment- they did not know better, and they certainly did not know that something much better would come- Jesus’ resurrection! Once again, Jesus proves His divinely introduced to us all the way back in John 1- He dies not just a humble, but gruesome death on the cross, fully human, because of How much He loves us. The humanity of Jesus is on full display here. How can you not love a savior who would die for us, and die a death for a penalty that we all deserve?
Crucifixion in Jesus’ times was very extreme. If you ruled a city or territory and someone tried to go against you in, as little as not paying taxes; they could be crucified or killed. The people in power want to stay in power, so they will do whatever they can for that to remain true. Jesus was put against a thief, Barabbas and the people voted to crucify Jesus in his place.
With that, it brings up the point of why Jesus allowed himself to be crucified on the cross. Jesus had the power to not let himself die on the cross, however, that is what he wanted and was sent to do. Dr. Long sums it up perfectly in the last line of this blog post. “The scandal of the cross is not the violence to the act, but the subversiveness of God making the ultimate sacrifice to atone for sin”. Jesus died for a purpose greater than anyone knew at the time of His death, and one that no one will truly understand unless they enter into eternity with Him. “Jesus’ identification of himself as a servant who offers himself as a “ransom” for “the many” (Mark 10:45)” (Strauss, p. 606). He came to Earth knowing it was a corrupt place where innocent people were being crucified for little or no offenses. In doing so, He gave those persecuted/outcasts a chance at a new life through Him. He will continue to do so until He comes back to conquer death once and for all.
It is strange but before reading this post I had never really thought about how the gospels do not go into details about the crucifixion. I would argue that this is in part because everyone would have known exactly what that meant back when the gospels where written and spelling it out would have been unnecessary. Still, I don’t think that it was an accident that the gospels don’t spell it out. Professor Long is correct, “The gospel writers were more interested in why Jesus died, rather than how the Romans tortured him”.
When I read the part about Christians, “…hammering nails into their flesh…” I thought this was an exaggeration. So, I looked it up online. Sure enough, people do it. There is a city in the Philippines, San Fernando that does it and Mexico City has an over 175 year tradition of crucifying three people every Good Friday (see links for websites below). I was rather shocked. The only modern day crucifixion I had heard about where Believers in Africa being persecuted and crucified by their attackers. So, I looked that up too. I remembered right. At least one person was beaten and crucified for their faith in Ethiopia in 2006 (again see link below). The irony was anything but funny. In one place people try to exalt themselves through willing crucifixion. In another it is a cruel attempt on their life.
All that being said I agree with Professor Long. The important part of the crucifixion is what Jesus did and what it shows us about His character – not how gory it was. The horror is that God allowed mankind to kill God to rescue mankind. That statement is enough to inform one that it was an atrocity.
I think that it is interesting that there is no description of what happened during the crucifixion in any of the Gospels but more so what came from the crucifixion which is the resurrection of Jesus. I think that people often focus a lot on the gory details that happened during Jesus’ crucifixion, rather that the reasoning behind the crucifixion which was Jesus dying and resurrecting to save us from our sins and give us a chance at eternal life in Heaven with Him. I found it interesting that crucifixion wasn’t invented by the Romans however they perfected it to deal with rebels, murderers, and other bad people. I like how in this blog post it is mentioned that the reasoning behind the crucifixion is that people were furious that Jesus claimed to be the Son of God and did;t believe him. They wanted to crucify him to show people that He was a liar (or so they thought). “If the leader of one’s religion executed in this way, it would seem to be proof that your religion was flawed!” (Long) They tried to crucify and kill Jesus to prove that He was not the son of God and try to convince the people that He was wrong. I think that as Christians it is important not to forget about how tragic and horrible what they did to Jesus is, but it is also really important to think about why this happened and what came from the crucifixion. I am thankful every day that Jesus died on the cross for us to save us from our sins and give us the opportunity to have eternal life.