Forgotten Word Ministries
The Crucifixion of Jesus
crucifixion of Christ is recorded in all four gospels: Matthew 27:33-44;
Mark 15:22-32; Luke 23:33-43; John 19:17-30.
Crucifixion is the process where a person is nailed or bound to a cross or a stake. It was first used by the Persians and later by the Egyptians, Carthaginians, and Romans as a form of capital punishment. Alexander the Great introduced it to the Mediterranean area and the Romans perfected it as a means of capital punishment.
Normally, there was a permanent stake in the ground. The victim carried the crossbar on his back to the stake. The crossbar usually weighed between 50 and 75 lbs. Sometimes the person was nailed to the crossbar, other times he was tied to it. The crossbar, and victim, were then hoisted into place. One method was to hoist the crossbar into a notch on top of the stake so the whole thing looked like a T. Another method was to place the crossbeam a few feet below the top making a cross. Yet another method was to nail or tie the person to a single stake in the ground. Usually a small sign on a pole with the crime written on it was carried ahead of the victim in front of the procession to the cross. It was then nailed to the cross above the head of the victim.
When nails were used, they were driven through the wrists between the radial and ulna bones and not through the palms since the nail would have ripped through the palm because the palm could not withstand all the weight of the body.
The Physical aspect of suffering in the crucifixion
Jesus agony began in Gethsemane with the sweating of blood. Hematidrosis is the name given to the rare occurrence of tiny blood capillaries in the sweat glands that rupture causing an oozing of blood to occur through the skin.
Next, Jesus was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane at night. He was brought before the Sanhedrin and there struck by a soldier when Jesus questioned the High Priest.
Jesus was then blindfolded and struck in the face repeatedly. Being blindfolded meant he couldn't "roll with the punches" and the blows would have been that much more destructive. The Bible says that He was beaten so badly He could hardly be recognized.
Next, Jesus was stripped of His clothing and then scourged. In scourging, a soldier used a whip called a flagrum consisting of leather straps embedded with metal and glass fragments with small metal balls sewn into the end of each thong. This whip was brought down with full force and when struck against the back of Jesus, was pulled thus tearing the skin off, exposing muscle, and maybe even exposing His very bones. Undoubtedly, His back was reduced to an oozing mass of mutilated flesh. Scourging stops when it is determined that the victim is near death or 39 lashes was reached. 39 was the number of mercy according to Jewish law. By this time, Jesus was in great pain, suffering severe blood loss, and was becoming very weak and thirsty. Only after this was He taken to be crucified.
They then stripped Him, put a scarlet robe on Him and placed a crown of thorns on His head. The robe would stick to the congealing blood on His back and when they ripped it from Him later, it would have been very painful and would have helped to continue the bleeding even more. They put a crown of thorns on His head. These thorns were shoved between His scalp and skull as well as ripping and tearing at the skin. Severe bleeding would ensue along with great pain.
Then Jesus was mocked and beaten another time after the scourging. He would be very weak by this time and probably could not bear the weight of the cross. So, another person was drafted to carry the cross for Him.
Jesus was lead
away to the cross and finally, He was nailed to a cross-beam.
Normally a person was laid down upon the cross beam and a nail driven into
one wrist. Then the other hand was pulled very tightly and another nail
driven into the other wrist. The nails were usually about 6-8 inches long.
Placing the nail in the wrist severs the median nerve resulting in a
burning pain as well as paralysis in the hand.
As I read this account, I am stricken by the greatness of His sacrifice and very thankful that He loves us enough to die for us. He deserves all the glory.
"Basic Christian Doctrine" by Matthew Slick, www.carm.org/basicdoc.htm