5 Facts About the Crucifixion of Jesus


1.Flogging Was Done Before the Crucifixion

Flogging or scourging was done before every crucifixion. The scourging was intended to bring a victim to a state just short of death. Also, it hurt a lot. The whip had iron balls tied a few inches from the end of each leather thong on the whip. Sometimes, sharp sheep bones would be tied near the ends. The iron balls would cause deep bruising, while the leather thongs would cut into the skin. The sheep bones would hasten the process of cutting into the skin. After a few lashes, the skin would be cut through, and the muscles would begin to be cut. Blood loss was considerable, and the pain likely put the victim (Jesus) in a state of shock.

2.Jesus Carried His Own Cross

After the flogging, Jesus carried His own cross bar, called a patibulum) from the flogging area inside the city of the crucifixion area outside of the city walls. The crucifixion area was always outside the city, because the process was horrible and disturbing to citizens. The upright part of the cross was permanently mounted in the crucifixion area. The part that Jesus carried was the cross bar, weighing in at 75 to 125 pounds. The cross bar would be balanced on the shoulders, and His arms were tied to the crossbar. In this position, if He tripped or fell, He could not use His arms to break their fall, and He would likely fall face first into the ground. Once the crucifixion area was reached, He was offered a drink of wine mixed with myrrh to act as a mild pain killer. This drink was a charitable service performed by an association of women in Jerusalem. “Then they offered Him wine mixed with myrrh, but He did not take it” (Mark 15:23).

3.Jesus Was on the Cross About Six Hours

Jesus’ final hours on the cross lasted from approximately 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., a period about six hours. “The chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders mocked Him. ‘He saved other,’ they said, ‘but He can’t save Himself! He’s the king of Israel! Let Him come down now from the cross and we will believe in Him. He trusts in God. Let God rescue Him now if HE wants Him, for He said, ‘I am the Son of God’” (Matthew 27:41-43). Answering the question of how long Jesus was on the cross is complicated by the fact that two systems of marking time are used in the Gospels. Matthew, Mark and Luke use the Jewish system of marking time. John uses the Roman System. Using the Jewish system, Mark says, “They crucified Him and divided His garments among them, casting lots for them, to decide what each should take. And it was the third hour when they crucified Him” (Mark 15:24-25). According to this, Christ’s crucifixion began at 9:00 a.m. Also, using the Jewish system of marking time, Matthew says that “from the sixth hour there was darkness over the land until the ninth hour” (Matthew 27:45). That is, the darkness lasted from 12 noon to 3 p.m. This was Jesus’ final hours on the cross.

4.Jesus Uttered the Most Important Words on the Cross

The entirety of God’s history comes to a single focal point when Jesus cries, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani” which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46). From the moment of creation, God’s story is a story of self-limitation and humility. He withdrew enough of Himself to allow the rest of creation to blossom and flourish. He allowed Israel freedom to succeed and fail – and He ultimately poured Himself into the flesh-and-bone, real life person, Jesus of Nazareth. God pursed every experience of finite humanity, including laughter and grief, joy and sorrow. In His final moments, He said these words because there was real forsakenness for our sake. He also said it to express desolation, not asking for an answer. Finally, He was amazingly fulfilling Scripture in the horror of it all and witnessing to the perfection of the plan of salvation.

5.The Gospel Writers Disagree on Some of the Details

In Mark and Matthew, Jesus is abandoned while He hangs on the cross. In John, His mother and a few others keep vigil as He dies. In Mark and Matthew, a fellow Jew mockingly offers Jesus some vinegary wine on a sponge. In Luke, Roman soldiers offer the wine, and in John, and unspecified “they” offer it. But the Gospels all agree on the basic elements. Jesus died on a cross at the hands of the Roman Empire and the provocation of the crowd in Jerusalem. Christianity’s critics cast doubt on the New Testament’s reliability pointing out disparities in the Gospels. The truth is, we should expect variations. It’s completely normal for ancient (and modern) historical accounts to summarize, paraphrase, omit details and explain events in a way that highlights their specific points and perspectives. It’s also important to point our right off the bat that each of the Gospel writers had a particular intention and focus. Each of them set out to accentuate a specific and unique portrait of Jesus. Through their individual Gospels – Matthew, Mark, Luke and John – focused on particular elements of Christ’s ministry and message that they felt illuminate their narrative.

Jesus Christ died, was buried and rose the third day according to the Scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). And He is coming again! The dead in Christ will be raised up, and those who are alive at His coming will be changed and receive new, glorified bodies (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). Both the death and resurrection of Jesus is so important. It proves who Jesus is. It demonstrates that God accepted Jesus’s sacrifice on our behalf. It shows that God has the power to raise us from the dead. It guarantees that the bodies of those who believe in Christ will not remain dead but will be resurrected into eternal life.
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