If you really want to understand the depths of what Jesus did for us believers on the cross, then you need to understand exactly what crucifixion is, and what happens to the victim during the process. Years ago, I did some research on the details of what a crucifixion entailed. And, to be honest, it was some of the most distressing research I have ever done. Crucifixion is perhaps one of the most gruesome forms of capital punishment that could ever happen to a person.
In the book, Case for Christ, Lee Strobel, the famous Christian Apologist, details the crucifixion in very graphic detail (Chapter 11 Medical Evidence). In my opinion, this account is probably the most accurate information you could ever read about crucifixion. And after I read just what was entailed, I came to a new understanding and appreciation of just what Jesus did to erase our sins. I strongly urge you to read that chapter for yourself, that is unless you are squeamish. If you don’t have the book, there’s an article “Jesus’ Crucifixion Described in Graphic Detail by Physician in Lee Strobel’s Book ‘Case for Christ,” written by Kevin Porter for The Christian Post on 10-31-2016 that gives a synopsis of the information presented in Strobel’s book. I believe that the information contained in Strobel’s book was the basis for how the crucifixion was portrayed in Mel Gibson’s movie, The Passion of the Christ.
I won’t go into the detail here, but I do suggest that you research it yourself. A death by crucifixion was such a painful torture, that a new word was coined to explain it – excruciating: extremely painful; causing intense suffering; unbearably distressing. The word origin is believed to be from Latin from two words that mean to torture and torment combined with the word for cross. Roman death by crucifixion was saved for slaves and enemies of the state. It was humiliating, the most painful, disgraceful way to die, and it exhibited the criminal’s low social status. When a person was crucified their death was agonizingly slow as it could take anywhere from hours to days for the subject to die.
For a point that I make in the next paragraph to make sense, I need to insert some additional information that is slightly off topic. As like in today’s world, back in the ancient Biblical days, when someone owed a debt to another, the name of recipient of the loan was recorded on a sort of written contract. And when the debt was satisfied, the name of the debtor was either crossed off, scratched off, or a nail would be driven through their name, thus signifying that the debt was satisfied. Now, back to the main topic.
When the “criminal” was crucified not only were they strapped, or nailed, to the cross (or post), but in addition a written record of the crime for which the person was guilty was also attached to the cross. Perhaps this was done to dissuade others from committing the same crime. Since we know that Jesus went to the cross for each of us, can you picture the written notice listing the “crimes” (a.k.a. our sins) attached to the cross? The list would be amazingly long, long, long. And with each drop of blood that He shed for us, the written record of our debt (sins), is erased, thus allowing our names to be entered into the Lamb’s Book of Life.
The fact that Jesus would willingly elect to take our place and suffer through the most horrible, painful death, ever devised as the final perfect sacrifice to bring us into a relationship with God, is definitely something to grapple with. Knowing the torture that was entailed in crucifixion, I don’t think that any innocent human would ever elect to willingly go to the cross for someone else.
When I really take the time to reflect just what brutal, barbarian punishment that Jesus went through for me, I am totally overwhelmed. And, I know that this knowledge is something not to be taken lightly. To say that I am grateful to Jesus is a huge understatement. While I rejoice in the freedom that Christ’s ultimate sacrifice plays in my life, I don’t even think I can explain in words the gratitude that I have for my Lord and Savior Jesus.
Colossians 2:14 ESV “by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.”