Hannaniah explained the cross beam was tied to the upright at the top of this picture when the crucified person was already nailed to the cross beam. Then the feet were nailed up.
6 weeks ago my blog covered the last week before Christ’s crucifixion. As we start the last week before 2018’s Good Friday, I hope to enlighten you so this Good Friday will impact you differently than ever before.
Did you know that Jesus was crucified on a tree, and not on a cross like Roman Catholic art and sculptures portray? In retrospect, Christ’s cross is called a tree 5 times (Acts 5:30, 10:39, 13:29, Galatians 3:13, 1 Peter 2:24). In Israel, they didn’t have as many big trees as they did in Rome, and so the finished-wood crosses they used in Rome weren’t possible to use in Israel. Also, Jesus wasn’t so high off the ground. The Romans crucified Jews in the easiest way possible, using whatever upright they could find. Their feet would only be about a foot or so off the ground.
in the Roman empire, where there might be…some kind of ‘norm’ for the course of execution…included a flogging beforehand, and the victim often carried the beam to the place of execution, where he was nailed to it with outstretched arms, raised up and seated on a small wooden peg…
This means when Jesus was too weak to carry his cross, it wasn’t a big, long, heavy cross he couldn’t carry. It was just the beam. He was beaten so much beforehand, he wasn’t just a little weak compared to normal. He was really weak.
Consider Pilate’s surprise that Jesus died so soon, and that a soldier had to prove he was dead by stabbing his side with the sword (Mark 15:43-45; John 19:31-34). These men were practiced at crucifixions. They perfected the sadistic art to a science. They knew how much a man could survive to still linger for days on a cross. Beating them before crucifixion was normal. But how much beating was calculated. Since the feast was imminent, they wanted the crucified sufferers to last just until the legs needed to be broken. This was because they had to be finished off the same day they were crucified when it was just before a feast. It gave them more satisfaction to be as cruel as possible. But Jesus died before this was required. Why?
Consider Psalm 22, a Messianic psalm on the thoughts and feelings Jesus experienced on the cross.
My God…why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me…I cry…but you do not answer…I find no rest. Yet you are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel. In you our fathers trusted…they cried and were rescued…. But I am a worm and not a man, scorned…and despised by the people. All who see…mock me…they wag their heads; “He trusts in the Lord; let him deliver him…for he delights in him!” …I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint; my heart is like wax; it is melted within my breast; my strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to my jaws; you lay me in the dust of death. For dogs encompass me; a company of evildoers…they have pierced my hands and feet—I can count all my bones—they stare and gloat over me; they divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots.
Consider 2 Corinthians 5:21, “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin….” He who always knew perfect approval, fellowship, unity, and love with the Father, was now cut off, forsaken, and guilty to the point of loathsome. He was judged unworthy of any mercy by the Father. God the Father turned his back on his own Son. I believe Jesus died faster than expected from a broken heart.
Now consider Jesus in the Garden, sweating great drops of blood. Our bodies do strange things when we grapple with stress. Myself, I grew a non-malignant tumor to the size of a football in 3 months because of an abusive boss. I had to have surgery to remove it after I vomited twice because my stomach was too crowded. Jesus knew what he was in for, but still, he prayed, “Your will be done.”
How should we now be impacted differently by the crucifixion? With gratitude, of course. Plus we should give our all to the Lord with renewed vigor, like he gave for us his all. Also, every time we pray, we should commit to, “Your will be done,” just like Jesus did. He deserves our very best and knows what’s best.
I took the above picture in Israel, 2004.