The crucifixion of Jesus has touched the hearts and lives of millions such as no other event (2 Cor. 5: 14, 15). Jesus taught, "This is my commandment, that ye love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends" (Jn. 15: 12, 13).
The injustice and inequity of Jesus' crucifixion. The world has never seen such a case of total injustice and shameful miscarriage of justice as took place in the crucifixion of Jesus. In the first place, Jesus was sinless (Heb. 4: 15). Jesus challenged the Jews to find legitimate fault with him, but they failed (Jn. 8: 46). Paul wrote thus, "For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him" (2 Cor. 5: 21). The crucifixion displays as no other event in history the depth of prejudice, moral and political corruption, and spiritual abandonment to which man is capable of sinking.
The mock trials of Jesus before Annas and Caiaphas have gone down in history as the most flagrant abuse of civil power known to man (Jn. 18, Matt. 26). These trials were illegal and in violation with Jewish and Roman protocol. Never has a man (especially considering the man was the Son of God) been subjected to such obvious disregard for right as Jesus was before the Sanhedrin, Pilate, and Herod (Lk. 22: 66-71, Matt. 27: 1, 2, Lk. 23: 1-11). Jesus was repeatedly pronounced innocent by the Romans, yet the Jews were insatiable in their blood lust (Matt. 27: 19-26). They continued to cry: "Let him be crucified" (Matt. 27: 23, 24). They demanded the release of a known criminal and insanely called for the retention and death of the Lamb of God (Matt. 27: 15-26).
In an unbelievable display of shameless disregard for right and human life, false witnesses were sought and obtained to falsely testify against Jesus (Mk. 14: 55-60). Nothing short of divine intervention could have stopped the blind rage of these incensed religious people who were urged on by their religious leaders (Matt. 26: 51-54)!
The crucifixion. Crucifixion was synonymous with shame and indescribable agony. Paul wrote, "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree" (Gal. 3: 13, Deut. 21: 23). Crucifixion was deemed the most disgraceful and ignominious punishment that was practiced among the Romans ," wrote Albert Barnes, "it was the way robbers, and the most notorious and abandoned wretches were commonly put to death" (Barnes on the New Testament, vol. 1, pg. 309). Barnes outlines some of the reasons for the excruciating pain which resulted from death by crucifixion. (1). The position of the arms and the body was unnatural , (2). The nails, being driven through the parts of the hands and feet which abound with nerves, created the most exquisite anguish, (3). The exposure of so many wounds to the air brought on a violent inflammation, which greatly increased the poignancy of the suffering, (4). The free circulation of the blood was prevented. More blood was carried out in the arteries than could be returned by the veins. The consequence was, that there was a great increase of blood in the veins of the head, producing an intense pressure and violent pain. The same was true of other parts of the body. This intense pressure in the blood-vessels was the source of inexpressible misery. (5). The pain gradually increased. There was no relaxation and no rest. There was no prospect but death. The sufferer was commonly able to endure it till the third hour " (Ibid.).
In addition to the almost unparalleled pain suffered by Jesus, there was the emotional agony and depletion. Some of the emotional agony is seen when Jesus was praying in the garden, "And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground" (Lk. 22: 44). Jesus knew the great challenge of the cross (Matt. 26: 54). He was also aware of how much depended on his enduring the cross (Ibid.). "Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree," Peter wrote, "that we, being dead to sin, should live unto righteousness; by whose stripes ye are healed" (I Pet. 2: 24). Hence, Jesus became the scape goat for the sins of the world (Lev. 16).
The forces which led to Jesus' crucifixion. There were many forces which eventuated in Jesus' death. One, of course, was the providence, if you will, of God. "Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God ," Peter states (Acts 2: 23). The determinate counsel of God, however, did not absolve the Jews and Romans of their guilt (Ibid.).
The ignorance of the people led to Jesus' crucifixion. Peter said, " I wot that through ignorance ye did it, as did also your rulers" (Acts 3: 17). Ignorance, though, was not excusable (vs. 19, 17: 30, 31). Also, religious envy played a major part. It was said of Pilate, "For he knew that for envy they had delivered him" (Matt. 27: 18). Greed was a motivating cause. Judas was greedy and accepted money - the infamous thirty pieces of silver - to betray Jesus (Matt. 26: 14-16). Of course, there was the fact that Jesus has exposed the hypocrisy of the religious leaders of his day and they hated him (Matt. 22, 23).
The preaching of the cross. Instead of ending "Christianity," Jesus' crucifixion became the very impetus for spreading it. Jesus' death also became the message of the gospel; hence, " we preach Christ crucified " and "the preaching of the cross" (I Cor. 1: 23, 18). The preaching of the cross, though, entails more than just Jesus' death (see I Cor. 2: 1-5, compare with Acts 18: 1-8, also see "Salvation," accessed from home page). The preaching of the cross was such a driving force in Paul's preaching that he wrote, "For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified" (I Cor. 2: 2).
The power of Jesus' crucifixion. The efficacy of Jesus' death is seen in such statements as, "For this is my blood of the New Testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins" (Matt. 26: 28, cf. Acts 2: 38). "Neither by the blood of goats and calves," the writer states, "but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us" (Heb. 9: 12, be sure to read "The Resurrection").
The crucifixion of Christ has served as the attraction and motivation for countless numbers to come to the Lamb of God and transform their lives into meaningful and productive instruments to render glory to God (2 Cor. 6: 14, 15, Gal. 2: 20, 6: 14). As we have seen, the crucifixion of Jesus has shaped history and world events and continues to offer such hope to mankind that can be found nowhere else. (To read more, click on "Imagine no Crucifixion")