THE CRUX OF THE MATTER – PART 2
Crucifixion (literally “fixed to a cross”) was both a shameful and a torturous, agonizing death –whereby the person hung on the cross until they slowly died of dehydration, asphyxiation, infection, or other causes.
Because of the long, drawn-out suffering, it was regarded by the Romans as the supreme penalty.
The Romans practiced crucifixion from at least the 3rd century BC until 337 AD when Constantine, the first Christian emperor, banned it out of respect for Jesus and because of the powerful symbolism of the cross in Christianity.
We saw that Christ’s death on the cross was substitutionary. He is our scapegoat; the good shepherd who lays down his life for the sheep.
He was crucified on Passover – he was the substitutionary Passover lamb.
He died the death of a slave to set us free from slavery to sin.
He hung naked so that we can be clothed in righteousness. He was publicly shamed in our place.
He took our curse by becoming a curse for us.
The Word Origin of CRUCIAL: from French, from Latin crux (cross) *
1. of vital or critical importance, esp. with regard to a decision or result: a crucial experiment.
2. Archaic. shaped like a cross; cruciform. *
* http:// thefreedictionary.com/ crux
THE CRUX OF THE MATTER
The word CRUX comes from the Latin crux “cross” *
The basic, central, or critical
point or feature: the crux of the
matter; the crux of an argument.
THE HISTORICITY OF JESUS’ CRUCIFIXION
Because it is CRUCIAL and the CRUX of the gospel message, Satan has used people to try attack the historicity of the cross and the resurrection.
One of the most notorious Muslims who attacked both the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus was the late South African, Ahmed Deedat (1918-2005) who wrote the booklet “Crucifixion or Cruci-Fiction?”
Incidentally Deedat was supportive of the efforts to establish an Islamic state in Nigeria. *
While his supporters, among them his son maintain that he was “a promoter of free speech and dialogue,” in 1988, following the publication of Salman Rushdie’s fictional work The Satanic Verses, Deedat supported the fatwā of the Ayatollah Khomeini calling for Rushdie's death. *
It emerged that his dawah centre, IPCI, was financed by the Bin Laden family and that he had met Osama Bin Laden, whom he described positively. *
https:// en.wikipedia.org/ wiki/ Ahmed_Deedat
Mirza Ghulam Ahmad
Deedat claimed that Jesus did not die upon the cross, but survived the crucifixion.
Strangely he uses an argument held, not by mainstream Muslims, but by the Ahmadiyya sect. The sect’s founder, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, had claimed to be the Mahdi (the second messiah) but is regarded as heretical by mainstream Muslims.
We saw that “the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing” (1 Cor 1:18, NIV).
But it is actually the foolishness of the cross that is one of the greatest evidences of the historicity of Jesus’ crucifixion. This is the view of John P. Meier, an American biblical scholar and Roman Catholic priest.
Meier views the crucifixion of Jesus as historical fact and states that Christians would not have invented the painful death of their leader, invoking the criterion of embarrassment principle in historical research. * (Why invent what would invite difficulty for the early church?)
He states that a number of other criteria, e.g., the criterion of multiple attestation (i.e., confirmation by more than one source) and the criterion of coherence (i.e., that it fits with other historical elements) help establish the crucifixion of Jesus as a historical event. *
* https:// en.wikipedia.org/ wiki/ Crucifixion_of_Jesus
Besides the records of the 4 gospels and the Church fathers, we have early independent non-Christian references to Jesus’ execution and crucifixion. Mara Bar Serapion, a Stoic philosopher in Syria, writes a letter to his son shortly after AD 73 mentioning the unjust killings of Socrates, Pythagoras and Christ.
What advantage did the Jews gain from executing their wise King? It was just after that their Kingdom was abolished. God justly avenged these three wise men: the Athenians died of hunger; the Samians were overwhelmed by the sea; the Jews, ruined and driven from their land, live in complete dispersion.
The Talmud citations (Jewish writings from AD 100-500) contain references verifying the historicity of the crucifixion - and that from a hostile source. (Note that the Talmud uses the term ‘hanging’ when referring to crucifixion).
On the eve of Passover they hanged Yeshu (of Nazareth) … he hath practiced sorcery and beguiled and led astray Israel. Let everyone knowing aught in his defence come and plead for him. But they found naught in his defence … *
* Sanhedrin 43a, Babylonian Talmud (Soncino Edition)
1st century Jewish historian Flavius Josephus (37-100 AD) was a Pharisee who refers to Jesus’ crucifixion in his writings:
“Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man; for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure.
“He drew over to him both many of the Jews and many of the Gentiles. He was [the] Christ. And when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him; for he appeared to them alive again the third day; as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him. And the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day.” *
* Antiquities of the Jews, Book 18, Chapter 3, 3
The Roman historian and senator Tacitus (56-117 AD), who was hostile
to Christianity, referred to Christ’s execution by Pontius Pilate:
“Christus … suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius
at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judæa, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome…” (Annals 15.44)
Lucian Of Samosata (c. AD 125 – after AD 180), a 2nd century Greek satirist, wrote a play entitled “The Passing of Peregrinus”. The story’s hero alludes to Christ as: “the man who was crucified in Palestine because he introduced this new cult to the world…”
CRUCIFIXION – A ROMAN FORM OF EXECUTION
In 1871 Episcopal preacher Henry Dana Ward claimed Jesus died on “a pale, a strong stake, a wooden post”. * Anglican theologian E. W. Bullinger, believed that “stauros” (the Greek word for the cross) never meant two pieces of timber placed across one another at any angle, “but always of one piece alone.” *
Jehovah's Witnesses still maintain that Jesus was executed on a simple upright stake, asserting that the cross was promoted as a Christian symbol under the 4th-century emperor Constantine the Great. **
* The Companion Bible (published in 1922)
** The History of the Cross, p. 52.
Made of more than one piece
While crucifixion is often said to have originated in Persia, the Persians used a stake and their form of execution was more likely impaling.
The Romans created the practice as we think of it today, using an upright post (in Latin, stipes) and a crossbar (in Latin, patibulum).
Generally, the upright post was erected first, and the victim was tied or nailed to the crossbar and then hoisted up. *
* https:// forbes.com/ sites/ kristinakillgrove/ 2015/ 12/ 08/ this-bone-provides-the-only-skeletal-evidence-for-crucifixion-in-the-
This tradition can be traced to the early Church fathers. Justin Martyr (100-165) writes of the cross that “one beam is placed upright” and “the other beam is fitted on to it” *
* "For the one beam is placed upright, from which the highest extremity is raised up into a horn, when the other beam is fitted on to it, and the ends appear on both sides as horns joined on to the one horn. And the part which is fixed in the centre, on which are suspended those who are crucified, also stands out like a horn; and it also looks like a horn conjoined and fixed with the other horns". - Dialogue with Trypho, XCI. “That [passover] lamb which was commanded to be wholly roasted was a symbol of the suffering of the cross which Christ would undergo. For the lamb, which is roasted, is roasted and dressed up in the form of the cross. For one spit is transfixed right through from the lower parts up to the head, and one across the back, to which are attached the legs of the lamb.” – Ibid., XL, 3
Irenaeus (130-202) remarks that "the very form of the cross, too, has five extremities, two in length, two in breadth, and one in the middle, on which [last] the person rests who is fixed by the nails". *
The apocryphal Acts of Peter (2nd cent.) expressly distinguishes between the upright beam of the cross and its crossbeam. **
* Against Heresies, II, xxiv, 4 ** It is right to mount upon the cross of Christ, who is the word stretched out, the one and only, of whom the spirit saith: For what else is Christ, but the word, the sound of God So that the word is the upright beam whereon I am crucified. And the sound is that which crosseth it, the nature of man. And the nail which holdeth the cross-tree unto the upright in the midst thereof is the conversion and repentance of man.
Responding to pagan claims that Christians were devotees of the cross, Tertullian (c. 155 – c. 240) responds by saying pagans adored images of wood, worshipping what is only part of a cross, while the Christians are credited with “an entire cross complete with a transverse beam and a projecting seat.” He adds that “the very structure of our body suggests the essential and primal outline of a cross. The head ascends to the peak, the spine stands upright, the shoulders traverse the spine. If you position a man with his arms outstretched, you shall have created the image of a cross.” *
* Ad nationes, book I, chapter XX
The cross (known in Latin as crux) used EITHER:
a crux immissa (the traditional Christian cross) OR
a crux commissa: an upright wooden beam to which was added a transom, thus forming a T-shaped structure
The instrument of Jesus' crucifixion is generally taken to have been a T-shaped structure – not a crux simplex or crux immissa.
THE CROSS - EXCRUCIATING
The Latin word for cross is CRUX.
EXCRUCIATING means “intensely painful”.
Etymology (Word Origin): late 16th century: from Latin excruciat- ‘tormented’, from the verb excruciare (based on crux, cruc- ‘a cross’).
The word crux took on the metaphorical meaning of torment or torture, especially mental (crucio). *
* https:// en.wikipedia.org/ wiki/ Crux_simplex
Crucifixion was intended to be a gruesome spectacle: the most painful and humiliating death imaginable. *
The victims of crucifixion were stripped naked and put on public display while they were slowly tortured to death so that they would serve as a spectacle and an example. *
Like death by guillotine in early modern times, crucifixion was a public act, but unlike the swift action of the guillotine, crucifixion involved a long and painful - literally, excruciating - death. *
* https:// en.wikipedia.org/ wiki/
Roman statesman Cicero (106 - 43 BC) noted that “of all punishments, it is the most cruel and most terrifying.”
Roman statesman Seneca
(4 BC - 65 AD) argued that even suicide is preferable
to the cruel fate of being
put on the cross.
historian Josephus (c. 37 – c.100 AD) called it “the most wretched of deaths.”
Why was crucifixion so painful? The victim was forced to push themselves up the cross, a distance of about 12 inches, in order to breathe. The process of respiration caused excruciating pain, mixed with the absolute terror of asphyxiation. Added to this was the dehydration, wound infection, and shock from blood loss.
Death ultimately occurred through a combination of constrained blood circulation, organ failure, and asphyxiation as the body strained under its own weight. *
* https:// britannica.com/ topic/ crucifixion-capital-punishment
Furthermore, prior to Jesus’ crucifixion, the guards at the Sanhedrin mocked and beat Jesus. They spat in his face and struck him with their fists.
They blindfolded him, slapped him and said, ‘Prophesy to us, Messiah. Who hit you?’” And they said many other insulting things to him. [Matt 26:67-68, Mark 14:65, Luke 22:63-65]
Isaiah had prophesied, “I gave … My cheeks to those who plucked out the beard; I did not hide My face from shame and spitting.” (Isa 50:6, NKJV)
Subsequently, Pilate “had Jesus flogged” (Matt 27:26, NIV). This would fulfill the prophecy “I gave My back to those who struck Me” (Isa 50:6, NKJV).
Pilate had probably intended that this be the final punishment – as that was bad enough. But Jesus’ enemies were not satisfied with anything short of death.
This “typically involved a whip with numerous leather thongs, 18-24 inches long, with bits of metal, bone or glass embedded in the leather. At times they would use an iron rod to beat the prisoner. According to Jewish custom, a prisoner was usually flogged 39 times … Scourging was an extreme form of punishment. The skin on the victim’s back was usually shredded, thus exposing the underlying muscle and skeletal structures. *
Ps 22:17 (NIV) I can count all my bones …
* Dr. Mark Eastman http:// www.khouse.org/ articles/ 1998/ 113/
Often those who were flogged would lose so much blood that they would go into hypovolemic shock (a term that refers to low blood volume.) Symptoms include weakness, fatigue, fainting and dizziness. Many victims died from such scourging.”
Why did he voluntarily endure this?
Isa 53:5 (NKJV) But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities … And by His stripes we are healed.
Matt 27:27-29 (NIV) Then the governor’s soldiers took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole company of soldiers around him. They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head …
Jesus was also mocked by the governor’s soldiers in the Praetorium.
Matt 27:29 (NIV) … They put a staff in his right hand. Then they knelt in front of him and mocked him. “Hail, king of the Jews!” they said.
Psalm 22:7-8 (NIV) All who see me mock me; they hurl insults…
Jesus was publicly shamed in our place:
1 Pet 21-22 (NIV) … Christ suffered for you … “He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.” When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats.
We already noted that Jesus “for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame” (Heb 12:2, NIV).
Matt 27:30 (NKJV) Then they spit on him …
Matt 27:30 (NIV) … and took the staff and struck him on the head again and again.
Usually, the condemned man, after being whipped, or “scourged,” dragged the crossbeam of his cross to the place of punishment, where the upright shaft was already fixed in the ground. *
John 19:16-17 (NIV) Finally Pilate handed him over to them to be crucified. So the soldiers took charge of Jesus. Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull…
* https:// britannica.com/ topic/ crucifixion-capital-punishment
We know from the Synoptic gospels that Simon of Cyrene was commandeered to carry the cross later, so some have speculated that Jesus may have collapsed due to exhaustion.
At the crucifixion site, the patibulum (crossbeam)
was put on the ground
and the victim laid upon it.
Stripped of their clothing
they were bound fast with outstretched arms to the crossbeam or nailed firmly to it through the wrists. *
Once the crossbar was in place, the feet may be nailed to either side of the upright or crossed. **
A ledge inserted about halfway up the upright shaft gave some support to the body; evidence for a similar ledge for the feet is rare and late. *
* Ibid. ** https:// forbes.com
The nails were long and square (about 15cm long and 1cm thick).
In some cases, nails would be driven through the heel bones, and in other cases, one nail would have been hammered through the metatarsals in the middle of the foot. *
The points would go into the vicinity of the median nerve, causing shocks of pain to radiate through the
Photo Credit: Pen News/Aryeh Shimron
* Ibid. ** http:// frugalsites.net/ jesus/ medical.html
The crossbeam was then raised high against the upright shaft and made fast to it about 9 to 12 feet (approximately 3 metres) from the ground. *
* https:// britannica.com/ topic/ crucifixion-capital-punishment
Some tried to question whether victims were actually nailed or simply tied with ropes. But in 1968, archaeologist Vassilios Tzaferis excavated some 1st century AD Jewish tombs in Jerusalem and came across the remains of a man who seemed to have been crucified. *
Furthermore the New Testament writings confirm that Jesus was indeed nailed to the cross.
Photo credit: Israel Museum.
* His name, according to the inscription on the ossuary, was Yehohanan ben Hagkol.
Acts 2:23 (NIV) This man was handed over to you by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross.
The scars on his hands and feet were used by Jesus to prove his identity.
Luke 24:38-39 (NIV) He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself!
Thomas wanted to see the nail marks in his hands.
John 20:25 (NIV) … But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it.”
Psalm 22:16 (NIV) Dogs have surrounded me; a band of evil men has encircled me, they have pierced my hands and my feet.
WHY THE SUFFERING?
We understand that Jesus had to die for us as a substitutionary sacrifice (in our place) – but why did his death have to be so brutal?
Jesus was broken just as the world was broken. His death was as painful and “excruciating” as our sin was heinous and evil.
He had to pay the full and final price for all the sin of mankind.
Heb 10:10 (NIV) And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
Humiliation, degradation, physical torment, taunting, rejection, betrayal, searing pain, terror, wrongful accusations: He went through it all. This should give us hope. “By his wounds you have been healed” (1 Peter 2:24). The extent to which Jesus willingly suffered testifies to the depth of his love. The resurrection is as breathtaking as his death was horrific. *
In this, we experience deep security in our Saviour: That he could and did overcome not only death but such a death. *
* https:// christianity.com/ wiki/ jesus-christ/ why-did-jesus-have-to-suffer-so-badly.html
THE LEGAL DEMANDS MET
Some false religions believe that we are saved if our good deeds outweigh our bad deeds.
There is no salvation by balancing
records. There is only salvation by
canceling records. The record
of our bad deeds … along with
the just penalties that each
deserves, must be blotted out–
not balanced. *
Col 2:13-14 (ESV) … by canceling
the record of debt that stood against
us with its legal demands. This he
set aside, nailing it to the cross.
To be justified in a courtroom is not the same as being forgiven. Being forgiven implies that I am guilty, but my crime is not punished.
Being justified implies that I have been tried and found innocent. Justification is a declaration that happens in a moment. A verdict: Just! Righteous! Not guilty! “Just-as-if-I’d” never sinned.
In the heavenly courtroom we have broken God’s law. Therefore, justification (declared “not guilty”), in ordinary terms, is hopeless.
Yet, amazingly, because of Jesus’ death God “justifies the ungodly” who believe in him and trust in his grace (Romans 4:5).
We are justified by Christ’s blood shed on the cross.
Romans 5:9 (ESV) Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.
The wrath of God was satisfied with the suffering and death of Jesus. The holy curse against sin was fully absorbed. The price of forgiveness was totally paid. The righteousness of God was completely vindicated. All that was left to accomplish was the public declaration of God’s endorsement. This He gave by raising Jesus from the dead. When the Bible says, “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins” (1 Corinthians 15:17, ESV*), the point is not that the resurrection is the price paid for our sins. The point is that the resurrection proves that the death of Jesus is an all-sufficient price. *
* 7 Reasons Christ Suffered and Died - By John Piper https:// billygraham.org/ story/ 7-reasons-christ-suffered-and-died/
There are 3 deaths in which the believer must take part.
1) DEATH IN SIN: OUR CONDEMNATION
2) DEATH FOR SIN: OUR JUSTIFICATION
3) DEATH TO SIN: OUR SANCTIFICATION
Canceling our sins is not the same as declaring us righteous. Jesus also imputes His righteousness to us (that is, treated as if it were ours through faith.).
Our claim before God is this: “not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ” (Phil 3:9).
Christ fulfilled all righteousness perfectly; and then that righteousness was reckoned to be mine, when I trusted in Him. Christ’s death became the basis for our pardon and our perfection. *
1) Adam’s sin to man
2 Cor 5:21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us…
2) Man’s sin to Christ
1 Cor 15:22 For as in Adam all die…
… so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
3) Christ’s righteousness to man
All 3 blessings of grace were procured
by the atoning death of Christ and the virtues of that death are imparted
to man by the Holy Spirit.
3 BLESSINGS OF GRACE
JUSTIFICATION: Not just forgiven – declared “not guilty”.
REGENERATION: Born again – new life in Christ
SANCTIFICATION: Becoming Christ-like . The moral change we undergo when we trust Jesus – the process of becoming good.