Summary: This is a devotional writtren for our church newsletter on the death of Jesus.
The Sacrifice of the Savior
There is no credible historian that denies the crucifixion of Jesus because it is so well documented in other ancient sources. The Roman crucifixion was likely one of the most horrible methods of execution ever devised. In essence, it is a long, agonizing death by asphyxiation.
The Romans forced each person being crucified to carry their cross from the place of trial to the place of execution. This made Jesus and the two criminals walk through at least one marketplace and crowds lined the street to watch the condemned, spit on them and try to trip them as they walked.
The cross would have been dropped onto Jesus causing the rough wood to dig deep into His back and shoulder. Jesus was so exhausted from the beatings and the loss of blood that He collapsed on the way to Golgotha. Simon of Cyrene was then forced to carry the cross the rest of the way.
The place where Jesus was crucified was called Golgotha, which literally means place of the skull. This place was appropriately named. Golgotha served three key purposes from the city of Jerusalem. The first was a garbage dump for all of the refuse from the city. The second purpose was that of an open grave. Poverty was so great in Jerusalem that beggars literally died in the streets. With no money for a proper burial the Romans used Golgotha as the place to take the bodies. Literally, this place would have been filled with skulls. The third purpose was a place for Roman executions.
Jesus was nailed to the cross with nine inch spikes that would have been driven through each of His wrists and a twelve inch spike driven through His feet. The cross would then be raised, dropped into a hole in the ground and set into place with braces. This would have caused a severe jolting of the body and intense pain.
Crucifixions were held through the hottest part of the day so that the victims would have to endure not only extreme pain but also the harsh heat of the day. This added to the already severe and unquenchable thirst.
During crucifixion the nerves sent signals into the chest that would cause the diaphram to go into massive spasms. In order, to take a breath the person being crucified would have to stand on the nail in their feet to relieve the spasms in their chest.
Jesus did not die of asphyxiation but rather He died of cardiac arrest. The Roman soldier wanted to be sure that Jesus was indeed dead and so he drove the head of his spear into the side of Jesus. The wound produced both blood and water. This was caused by pericardial effusion and pleural effusion and when the spear pierced the side it ruptured both the lungs and the heart. At this point there can be no doubt that Jesus was indeed dead.
Why did Jesus die such a miserable and horrid death?
But God put his love on the line for us by offering his Son in sacrificial death while we were of no use whatever to him. Romans 5:8 (MsgB)
Jesus died for you. He died the death that was caused by your sin. He died because it was the only way to bring you back to the family of God. He died because He loves you too much to be without you. He died because He knew exactly what you needed even if you didn’t.