“Then he released Barabbas to them; and when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered Him to be crucified” (Matthew 27:26).

Crucifixion was an ancient form of capital punishment that involved a slow and painful execution. Victims would be tied or nailed to a large wooden beam and left to hang for days until they died from exhaustion or suffocation. It was used to dissuade others from heinous crimes. Bodies were left on display to warn others to not break the law. The death was gruesome, humiliating, and public.

Most artists place a loincloth on pictures of people being crucified, but typically they were stripped naked. Often the legs of the person were broken or shattered with an iron club to hasten death, to prevent escape, and to deter others from committing the same offense.

Crucifixion was carefully calculated to be a horrible death. The Roman orator Cicero described crucifixion as “a most cruel and disgusting punishment.” He even suggested that “the very mention of the cross should be far removed not only from a Roman citizen’s body, but from his mind, his eyes, his ears.”

Jesus was killed as a criminal by this shameful and disgraceful method. The King of the universe was brought down to the lowest social status and given the most dishonourable death imaginable. He was whipped and beaten before being forced to carry the cross to the place of execution. He was stripped, and soldiers gambled for His clothing. Instead of His legs being broken, a spear was thrust into His side.

Despite the dreadful method of execution, Jesus said, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me” (Matthew 16:24). Paul not only said we should boast in the cross (Galatians 6:14), but he also added, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2:20). Isn’t it amazing that an instrument of death has become a symbol of life?

O Jesus, You freely chose the horrors of Calvary for me. I cannot fathom such love. Thank You!

For Further Study: Matt. 27:27–56; Luke 23:26–49; John 19:17–37

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