Many people think of the crucifixion of Christ as what you see in old paintings and art. A man with a tiny trickle of blood coming from this hands, feet and head- hanging on a sanded and smooth cross. Yet, that is not an accurate picture of the death of Jesus.
The most incredible description of the events of Christ’s humiliation and death that I’ve found are on this website. Be aware though: it’s highly graphic.
For simplicity’s sake, I’ll cut and paste his beating and death. I found 2 good descriptions, and will take a little of each to help explain it.
“While most are aware that Jesus was beaten and then crucified, few comprehend the horrific mutilation that occurred to His body both before and during His crucifixion. Jesus’ body was so beaten and battered that He was virtually unrecognizable to the people of His day.
To help clear your mind of the typical picture of a barely-scarred Jesus hanging from a cross, a detailed examination of His execution must be described. While various forms of crucifixion were used, we will describe one possible method.
Before being crucified, Jesus is forced to undergo a severe scourging. To begin the horrible ordeal, He is stripped of His clothing and His hands are bound to a post above His head. A Roman legionnaire steps forward with a flagellum—a short whip with jagged pieces of bone, glass and metal tied into nine strips of leather. This is commonly referred to as a cat-o’-nine-tails.
The heavy whip is brought down without mercy, over and over again, across Jesus’ shoulders, back and legs. At first, the flagellum cuts through the skin only. But as the blows continue, they cut deeper into the flesh, causing blood to ooze from the capillaries and veins. Blood then begins to spurt from smaller arteries in the underlying muscles.
The flagellum begins to produce large, deep bruises, which are then ripped open by succeeding blows. In time, the skin of Jesus’ back is hanging in long ribbons, like spaghetti. The entire area is an unrecognizable bloody mass of torn flesh.
The severe beating is halted when the Roman centurion in charge has determined that Jesus is near death.
Though the Jews had a law that prohibited more than 39 lashes, there is speculation that the Romans would not have made any attempt to obey the statute.
At this point, Jesus is close to being in shock. One can only imagine the agonizing pain pulsing through His nerves. He is then untied from the post and allowed to fall to the ground—soaked in His own blood. The soldier performing the beating notices a great irony in a “simple, unsophisticated Jew” claiming to be a king. A robe is thrown across Jesus’ shoulders, and a stick is placed in His hand, like a scepter. To complete the mockery, flexible branches covered with long thorns are formed into a crown, which is pressed firmly into Jesus’ scalp. Since the scalp is one of the most vascular areas of the body, profuse bleeding begins almost immediately.
The soldiers proceed to mock Jesus and strike Him across the face. They then take His “scepter” and strike Him on the head—the thorns are driven deeper. At last, the soldiers grow weary of their vicious attack and tear off Jesus’ robe. This causes agonizing pain, similar to carelessly removing a surgical bandage, due to His robe having bonded to the clots of blood and serum in His wounds. Significant bleeding takes place once again, as though He were being whipped with the flagellum.
Ironically, in respect of Jewish custom, the Roman soldiers return Jesus’ garments, and then make Him carry a long wooden beam along His back. The condemned “criminal,” along with the Roman soldiers, begins His slow journey to the site of the crucifixion, Golgotha. Jesus struggles to walk erect, but considering the immense weight of the wooden beam and the state of near shock produced by incredible blood loss, He constantly falls. The weight is too much to bear. The beam gouges into the shredded skin and muscles of the shoulders. Jesus tries to rise, but the endurance of His muscles has been exceeded.
Wanting to hasten the crucifixion, the centurion-in-charge selects an onlooker—Simon of Cyrene (Matt. 27:32)—to carry the beam. Jesus follows behind Simon, perhaps slightly relieved, but still bleeding and in near-shock.
“Jesus’ Crucifixion: Jesus is again stripped of all clothing – not even a loin cloth (contrary to images depicted in artists’ paintings). Simon is ordered to place the cross on the ground and Jesus is quickly thrown backward with His torn shoulders against the wood. The legionnaire feels for the depression at the front of the wrist. He drives a heavy, square, wrought-iron nail through the wrist and deep into the wood. To comment on the shout Jesus must have released is too much to bare.
Quickly, he moves to the other side and repeats the action being careful not to pull the arms too tightly, but to allow some movement. The cross portion is now hoisted to the upright pillar where it fits into a groove near the top.
Jesus left foot is now pressed backward against the right foot, and with both feet extended, toes down, a nail is driven through the arch of each, leaving the knees moderately flexed. The Victim is now crucified. To make matters worse, the Victim is mocked by His executioners as well as some of the religious onlookers in the gathering throng.
As He slowly sags down with more weight on the nails in His wrists, excruciating pain shoots along the fingers and up the arms to explode in the brain – the nails in the wrist are putting pressure on the median nerves. As He pushes Himself upward to avoid the stretching torment, He places His full weight on the nail through His feet. Again there is searing agony of the nail tearing through the nerves between the metatarsal bones of the feet.
At this point, as the arms fatigue, great waves of cramps sweep over the muscles, knotting them in deep, relentless, throbbing pain. With these cramps comes the abiility to push Himself upward. Hanging by His arms, the pectoral muscles are paralyzed and the intercostals muscles are unable to act. Air can be drawn into the lungs, but cannot be exhaled. Jesus fights to raise Himself in order to get even one short breath. Finally carbon dioxide builds up in the lungs and in the blood stream and the cramps partially subside. Spasmodically, He is able to push Himself upward to exhale and bring in the life-giving oxygen. It was undoubtedly during these periods of fighting for air that Jesus uttered the seven short sentences which are recorded.
The Death of Jesus: hours of this limitless pain, cycles of twisting, joint-rending cramps, intermittent partial asphyxiation, searing pain where tissue is torn from His lacerated back as He moves up and down against the rough timber in order to take a breath.
Then another agony begins. A terrible crushing pain deep in the chest as the pericardium slowly fills with serum and begins to compress the heart. It is almost over. The loss of tissue fluids has reached a critical level; the compressed heart is struggling to pump heavy, thick, sluggish blood into the tissues; the tortured lungs are making frantic efforts to gasp in small gulps of air. The markedly dehydrated tissues send their flood of stimuli to the brain.
A sponge soaked in posca, the cheap, sour wine which is the staple drink of the Roman legionnaires, is lifted to His lips. He apparently does not take any of the liquid. The body has reached its limit. This realization brings out His sixth words, possibly little more than a tortured whisper, “It is finished.” His mission of atonement has been completed. Finally, He can allow His body to die. With one last surge of strength, He once again presses His torn feet against the nail, and straightens His legs, takes a deeper breath, and utters His last cry, “Father, into thy hands I commit my spirit.”
We have had our glimpse at what Christ went through – a terrible sight, and more than enough to leave us depressed and despondent.
Remember, this was all done willingly. Christ offered up Himself for the sins of the world – and more particularly for you – that through His sacrifice we might know life.”
Not only did Christ endure the cross for us, but he knew that it was coming. He knew the scriptures and was familiar with all the text. These verses in Isaiah were written 700 years before Christ’s birth. Yet, Isiah 53 so accurately describes exactly the life and death of Jesus, it’s almost as if it was written after the fact. Yet He willing endured it all for you and I.
Isiah 53 -“Who has believed our message? To whom will the LORD reveal his saving power? 2My servant grew up in the LORD‘s presence like a tender green shoot, sprouting from a root in dry and sterile ground. There was nothing beautiful or majestic about his appearance, nothing to attract us to him. 3He was despised and rejected—a man of sorrows, acquainted with bitterest grief. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way when he went by. He was despised, and we did not care.
4Yet it was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him down. And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God for his own sins! 5But he was wounded and crushed for our sins. He was beaten that we might have peace. He was whipped, and we were healed! 6All of us have strayed away like sheep. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the LORD laid on him the guilt and sins of us all.
7He was oppressed and treated harshly, yet he never said a word. He was led as a lamb to the slaughter. And as a sheep is silent before the shearers, he did not open his mouth. 8From prison and trial they led him away to his death. But who among the people realized that he was dying for their sins—that he was suffering their punishment? 9He had done no wrong, and he never deceived anyone. But he was buried like a criminal; he was put in a rich man’s grave.
10But it was the LORD‘s good plan to crush him and fill him with grief. Yet when his life is made an offering for sin, he will have a multitude of children, many heirs. He will enjoy a long life, and the LORD‘s plan will prosper in his hands. 11When he sees all that is accomplished by his anguish, he will be satisfied. And because of what he has experienced, my righteous servant will make it possible for many to be counted righteous, for he will bear all their sins. 12I will give him the honors of one who is mighty and great, because he exposed himself to death. He was counted among those who were sinners. He bore the sins of many and interceded for sinners.”
He was “crushed” so that we might live!!!