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Summary: Taking a look at some of the events during Jesus' crucifixion.

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AT THE CROSS

John 19:17-27

1) On the road to Golgotha (17-18). “Carrying his own cross” Other gospel accounts mention that Simon of Cyrene carried the cross for Jesus. This isn’t a contradiction. Jesus started out carrying his own cross but along the way he, being unable to proceed due to the severe torture he endured during his flogging, collapses and therefore Simon is chosen to take on the duty. Golgotha—an Aramaic word meaning "the skull." Calvary is the Latin form of the word. Various reasons for the name. One was that the shape of it resembled a skull. It may have been called that because of the executions that happened there. In any event, the name of the place was gruesomely fitting for what was going to take place there on this day. “Here they crucified him”. John is obviously very concise in mentioning Jesus’ crucifixion. He mentions nothing of what that entailed just simply mentions the fact of it. But I think it’s important to provide a description of what it entailed to give insight into what our Lord was dealing with. The following is from an article entitled, A Physician Testifies about the Crucifixion. “Preparations for the scourging were carried out when the Prisoner was stripped of His clothing and His hands tied to a post above His head. The Roman legionnaire steps forward with the flagellum in his hand. This is a short whip consisting of several heavy, leather thongs with two small balls of lead attached near the ends of each. The heavy whip is brought down with full force again and again across Jesus’ shoulders, back, and legs. At first the thongs cut through the skin only. Then, as the blows continue, they cut deeper into the subcutaneous tissues, producing first an oozing of blood from the capillaries and veins of the skin, and finally spurting arterial bleeding from vessels in the underlying muscles. The small balls of lead first produce large, deep bruises which are broken open by subsequent blows. Finally the skin of the back is hanging in long ribbons and the entire area is an unrecognizable mass of torn, bleeding tissue. One witness to a Roman flogging gave this description: "The sufferer’s veins were laid bare, and the very muscles and tendons and bowels of the victim were open to exposure." When it is determined by the centurion in charge that the prisoner is near death, the beating is finally stopped. The half-fainting Jesus is then untied and allowed to slump to the stone pavement, wet with His own blood. The Roman soldiers see a great joke in this provincial Jew claiming to be king. They throw a robe across His shoulders and place a stick in His hand for a scepter. They still need a crown to make their travesty complete. Flexible branches covered with long thorns are plaited into the shape of a crown and this is pressed into His scalp. Again there is copious bleeding, the scalp being one of the most vascular areas of the body. After mocking Him and striking Him across the face, the soldiers take the stick from His hand and strike Him across the head, driving the thorns deeper into His scalp. Finally, they tire of their sadistic sport and the robe is torn from His back. Already having adhered to the clots of blood and serum in the wounds, its removal causes excruciating pain just as in the careless removal of a surgical bandage, and almost as though He were again being whipped the wounds once more begin to bleed. In deference to Jewish custom, the Romans return His garments. The heavy crossbeam (100 pounds) is tied across His shoulders, and the procession of the condemned Christ, two thieves, and the execution detail of Roman soldiers headed by a centurion begins its slow journey along the Via Dolorosa. In spite of His efforts to walk erect, the weight of the heavy wooden beam, together with the shock produced by copious blood loss, is too much. He stumbles and falls. The rough wood of the beam gouges into the lacerated skin and muscles of the shoulders. He tries to rise, but human muscles have been pushed beyond their endurance. The centurion, anxious to get on with the crucifixion, selects an onlooker, Simon of Cyrene, to carry the cross. Jesus follows, still bleeding and sweating the cold, clammy sweat of shock, until the 650 yard journey from the fortress Antonia to Golgotha is finally completed. Simon is ordered to place the crossbeam on the ground and Jesus is quickly thrown backward with His 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. Quickly, he moves to the other side and repeats the action. The crossbeam is then lifted in place at the top and the sign reading "Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews" is nailed in place. The 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. As He slowly sags down with more weight on the nails in the wrists excruciating pain shoots along the fingers and up the arms to explode in the brain -- the nails in the wrists are putting pressure on the median nerves. As He pushes Himself upward to avoid this stretching torment, He places His full weight on the nail through His feet. Again there is the 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 inability to push Himself upward. Hanging by his arms, the pectoral muscles are paralyzed and the intercostal 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. Hours of 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. 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 now 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 tissue; the tortured lungs are making a frantic effort to gasp in small gulps of air. The markedly dehydrated tissues send their flood of stimuli to the brain. The body of Jesus is now in extremes, and He can feel the chill of death creeping through His tissues.” Something important to consider: the other gospel accounts mention that when Jesus was crucified he was offered wine mixed with gall which was used as a sedative to lessen the pain. It says that once Jesus tasted it and realized what it was he refused it. Think about it: after having gone through such agonizing, excruciatingly painful torture what a temptation it would be to take the medicine. This shows Jesus’ willingness to fully take on the pain related to suffering for the sins of mankind. This also shows that his purpose was to be as alert as possible throughout his ordeal. How often do we seek to escape pain, physical or otherwise? Do we take some kind of sedative to deaden ourselves to the reality of what’s going on around us? Does it show that we’re not willing to trust in something other than manmade concoctions to deal with our pain? I’m not saying it’s wrong to take medicine but things like medicine, alcohol, drugs or a host of other things can be used as a means to escape. Jesus didn’t do that.


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