For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.”
1 Corinthians 1:18 KJVR
In the Christian faith and teaching, the preaching of the Cross has a very central position. If we remove or ignore this message from the word of God, then we have nothing with us. When we preach the message of Cross then sinners come to the saving knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
When sinners hear and believe the word of God, they receive the forgiveness of their sins. The total ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the purpose of his coming to this earth, was to be crucified on the cross. That is why the message of the cross is very essential, important and central in Christian faith.
In the New Testament the word “cross” is used 56 times. It is a straight beam of wood.
-The cross is an instrument of tyranny and cruelty and oppression.
-The criminal was tied on this beam of wood.
-Then on this straight beam a cross beam was added.
-The shape of the straight beam of wood. (I)
-The shape of the cross beam (-).
-Then we have the shape of cross or it could be like (T)
-The criminal was tied over it. Or he was nailed down on this cross.
Crucifixion (death on the cross) was originated by Phoenicians, which is the present Lebanon. In the fifth and sixth centuries BC, punishment by the cross was also done in Persia.
“So they hanged Haman on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai. Then was the king’s wrath pacified.”
This incident took place in 500 BC.
“Also I have made a decree, that whosoever shall alter this word, let timber be pulled down from his house, and being set up, let him be hanged thereon; and let his house be made a dunghill for this.”
It is also thought that in the olden days, first the criminal was beheaded and then he was crucified.
“Yet within three days shall Pharaoh lift up thy head from off thee, and shall hang thee on a tree; and the birds shall eat thy flesh from off thee.”
This incident took place in 1400 BC.
Historians write that in Carthage, India, Assyria and Germany, criminals were crucified. At last, in 325 AD, Constantine abolished this means of punishment: death by crucifixion. For the Jews the hanging or crucifixion took place after death. Hanging and crucifixion were practiced so that others might learn a lesson from this kind of death.
“And if a man have committed a sin worthy of death, and he be to be put to death, and thou hang him on a tree: His body shall not remain all night upon the tree, but thou shalt in any wise bury him that day; (for he that is hanged is accused of God;) that thy land be not defiled, which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance.”
Deuteronomy 21:22, 23
Compare it with the following verse:
“Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, ‘Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree’ ”
This type of punishment was given because of adultery, blasphemy against God, and to the slaves. Roman citizens were exempted from this punishment.
In 166-167 BC—Antiochus Epiphanies crucified all those people who did not give up their old religion.
In 88 BC—Maccabean King Alexander Jannaeus ordered to crucify 800 able and famous leaders of Pharisees.
In 4 BC—Roman General Varus crucified 2000 people.
In 66 AD—Florus crucified 3600 Jews which resulted in the widespread revolt.
In 70 AD—General Titus besieged Jerusalem, he crucified so many Jews there was shortage of wood to make the crosses as well there was not enough space to fix the crosses.
Types of Crosses
-Saint Andrew’s cross (X)
-Saint Anthony‘s Cross (T)
-Latin cross (V)
-Greek cross (+)
Methods and Process of Crucifixion
A beam of wood was taken and the same size of a cross beam was added. (V)
On the top of the Cross the crime of the criminal was written:
“And set up over his head his accusation written, THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS.”
According to tradition, Christ was crucified on the Latin cross.
After announcing the punishment lashes were given to the criminal. In the strands of the lashing whips, bones and metal pieces were added. An ordinary man can only take two lashes because the whole human Skelton was dislocated.
“And all my bones are out of joint :”
Usually the crucifixion took place out of the city.
“Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate.”
The person who was going to be crucified outside the city carried his cross to the spot where he was going to be crucified.
His crime was written on a slate which was hanged around his neck, or sometimes there was another person who carried the slate with the victim’s crime written on it.
Among Jews, prior to crucifixion, the criminal was given some medication prepared with wine and Myrrh.
“Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish, and wine unto those that is of heavy hearts. Let him drink, and forget his poverty, and remember his misery no more.”
The cross was put on the ground then the criminal was laid on the cross. First the right hand then the left hand was pierced by the sharp nail which was hit by a heavy hammer. (Jesus was nailed in his wrist)
Then the right foot was put over the left foot and they were pierced through by the sharp nail which was hit by a heavy hammer. Under the feet there was small spot where the criminal’s feet could touch for some support, so that the pierced hands would not carry the full body weight.
The cross was then raised up and placed into a hole in the ground; the feet of Jesus were one or two feet above the ground. That is why he was able to talk with people. It took criminals from 36 hours to 9 days to die on the cross. That is why four guards were appointed to attend so that no one should try to remove the criminal from the cross to save his life.
“Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, ‘Truly this was the Son of God’.”
Blood gathered in the stomach and the brain of the crucified person, which caused fever and the germs of tetanus entered into his body. If it was thought proper to cease the sufferings of the criminal before the due time then his legs were broken by a strong hammer and his side was pierced with a spear.
“Then came the soldiers, and break the legs of the first, and of the other which was crucified with him.”
Jesus suffered on the cross to save mankind and deliver it from sin. They spit on his face, he was severely beaten, he received lashes, his hands and feet were pierced, and a crown of thorns was put on his head.
“And they platted a crown of thorns and put it upon his head, and a reed in his right hand; and they kneeled down before him, and mocked him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews!”
He was bleeding from his head, hands and feet. “He endured pain and shame on the cross.”
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He died on the cross and rose again so that mankind would have eternal life.
May the Lord help you to reflect and comprehend the sufferings of Christ on this Good Friday. It is my prayer that you may be well-knit and deeply-rooted in God the Father through our Lord Jesus Christ.
May the Lord bless you abundantly.