Carnal Aspect of the Crucifixion of Christ
Matthew 27:29-46, Mark 15: 16-39, Luke 23:33-47, John 19: 16-36
Dr. Tony Mariot discusses the thought that Crucifixion first began among the Persians. Alexander the Great introduced the practice to Egypt and Carthage, the Romans learned of it from the Carthaginians.
Although the Romans did not invent crucifixions they perfected it as a form of torture and capital punishment that was designed to produce a slow death with maximum pain and suffering. It was one of the most disgraceful and cruel methods of execution and usually was reserved for slaves, foreigners, revolutionaries, and vile criminals. Roman law usually protected Roman citizens from crucifixion, except in the case of desertion by soldiers.
Women were also crucified in rare occasions, as recorded in the writings of Josephus' Antiquities, A freed woman of a Roman eques who, in league with the priests of a temple of Isis in Rome, had helped him to deceive the woman he longed for, was crucified under Tiberius along with the priests of the Egyptian goddess, who were not Roman citizens.
In another account, a woman named Blandina, who, during the persecutions of Christians in Lyons was crucified upside-down, and scourged naked, this is found in Eusebius.
In its earliest form in Persia, the victim was either tied to a tree or was tied to or impaled on an upright post, usually to keep the victim's feet from touching the ground, in which case a sedile, or foot prop was attached to the stipe for the feet to rest.
A true cross was characterized by an upright post (stipes) and a horizontal crossbar (patibulum), which had several variations. Archaeological and historical evidence strongly indicates that the low Tau cross was preferred by the Romans in Palestine at the time of Christ (see pict of cross)
Crucifixion practices varied in a given geographic region and in accordance with the imagination of the executioners, the Latin cross and other forms may also have been used.
Scourging prior to crucifixion served to weaken the man and, if blood loss was considerable, to produce orthostatic hypotension and even hypovolemic shock.
In the case of Jesus, after the scourging and the mocking, at about 9 AM, the Roman soldiers put Jesus' clothes back on him and then led him and two thieves to be crucified. Jesus was so weakened by the severe flogging that he could not carry the patibulum from the Praetorium to the site of crucifixion one third of a mile (600 to 650 meters) away. Simon of Cyrene was summoned to carry Christ's cross, and the processional then made its way to Golgotha (or Calvary), an established crucifixion site. (Luke 23:26, 33, Mt 27:32)
Here, Jesus' clothes, except for a linen loincloth, again were removed, thereby probably reopening the scourging wounds. He then was offered a drink of wine mixed with myrrh called (gall) but, after tasting it, he refused the drink. (Mt 27:34)
When the victim was thrown to the ground on his back, in preparation for transfixion of the hands, his scourging wounds most likely would become torn open again and contaminated with dirt., Furthermore, with each respiration, the painful scourging wounds would be scraped against the rough wood of the stipes. As a result, blood loss from the back probably would continue throughout the crucifixion ordeal.
With arms outstretched but not taut, the wrists were nailed to the patibulum. The ligaments and bones of the wrist can support the weight of a body hanging from them, but the palms cannot. Accordingly, the iron spikes were driven between the radius and the carpals or between the two rows of carpal bones, either proximal to or through the strong band like flexor retinaeulum and the various interearpal ligaments. Although a nail in either location in the wrist might pass between the bony elements and thereby produce no fractures, but a painful periosteal injury would be great.
Furthermore, the driven nail would crush or sever the rather large sensorimotor median nerve. The stimulated nerve would produce excruciating bolts of fiery pain in both arms.
Jesus and the two thieves were crucified. Although scriptural references are made to nails in the hands, these are not at odds with the archaeological evidence of wrist wounds, since the ancients customarily considered the wrist to be a part of the hand.
The titulus was attached above Jesus' head which was written in 3 languages, Hebrew, Greek and Latin (John 19: 20). It is unclear whether Jesus was crucified on the Tau cross or the Latin cross; archaeological findings favor the former and early tradition the latter.
Latin cross has the patibulum a third part down from the top of the cross while the Tau is at the top. The fact that Jesus later was offered a drink of wine vinegar from a sponge placed on the stalk of the hyssop plant (approximately 20 inches long) supports the belief that Jesus was crucified on the short cross or Tau.
The soldiers and the civilian crowd taunted Jesus throughout the crucifixion ordeal, and the soldiers cast lots for his clothing
(Matthew 27:29-44). Christ spoke seven times from the cross. Since speech occurs during exhalation, these short, terse utterances must have been particularly difficult and painful. These accounts are referred to as the seven sayings, they are Luke 23:34, 43, 46, John 19:26-28, 30, Matthew 27:46 and Mark 15:34 - (Mt & Mk accounts are in Aramaic)
These sayings are referred to as the words of forgiveness, salvation, relationship, abandonment, distress, triumph and reunion.
At about 3 PM that Thursday, Jesus cried out in a loud voice, bowed his head, and died. The Roman soldiers and onlookers recognized his moment of death.
Since the Jews did not want the bodies to remain on the crosses after sunset, the beginning of the Sabbath, they asked Pontius Pilate to order the legs be broken to hasten the deaths of the three crucified men. The soldiers broke the legs of the two thieves, but when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. Rather, one of the soldiers pierced his side, with an infantry spear, later referred to as the spear of destiny which produced a sudden flow of blood and water. Later that day, Jesus' body was taken down from the cross and placed in a tomb. (John 19:31-37)
Died on a Wednesday
When Jesus died He was quickly buried because of the oncoming Feast of Unleavened Bread a high day which began at
sunset on Wednesday to sunset on Thursday - Luke 23:46-54.
Luke 23:54 “And that day was the preparation, and the sabbath drew on”
Many have assumed this was the weekly Sabbath and that Jesus was crucified on a Friday.
There are two distinct high days or Sabbaths referred to in this week.
The weekly Sabbath sunset Friday to sunset Saturday
The first day of Unleavened Bread, a high annual Sabbath - sunset Wednesday to sunset Thursday
John 19:31 (for that sabbath day was an high day) - (Exodus 12:16-17; Leviticus 23:6-7)
The annual Holy Days usually fall on weekdays, other than the regular weekly Sabbath days, sunset Friday - sunset Saturday.
Luke 23:54-56 the women saw Jesus’ body being laid in the tomb just before sunset Wednesday
They “returned and prepared spices and ointments”
Preparing spices would not have been done on a Sabbath day Friday - Saturday, since it would have been considered a
violation of the Sabbath.
This is verified by Mark’s account, which states, “Now when the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices (which they would not have purchased on the high-day Wed-Thur - (Mark 16:1).
The women had to wait until this annual “high day” was over before they could buy and prepare the spices to be used
for anointing Jesus’ body. After purchasing and preparing the spices and oils on Friday, “they rested on the Sabbath according to the commandment” (Luke 23:56).
The second Sabbath mentioned in the Gospel accounts is the regular weekly Sabbath, observed from Friday sunset
to Saturday sunset.
Time of Death 3PM - Wednesday AD 31
Mark tells us the women bought spices after the Sabbath
Luke states they prepared the spices before resting on the Sabbath—two different Sabbaths.
John 19:31 - The first Sabbath was a “high day”— the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread—which, in A.D. 31, fell on a Wednesday.
The second was the weekly seventh-day Sabbath - Sunset Friday - Sunset Saturday
Jesus died at the 9th hour of the day. Matthew 27:45-50 - 3PM
After the women rested on the regular weekly Sabbath Friday - Saturday, they went to Jesus’ tomb early on the first day of the week (Sunday), “while it was still dark” (John 20:1), and found that He had already been resurrected (Matthew 28:1-6; Mark 16:2-6; Luke 24:1-3).
Jesus was crucified and entombed on Wednesday afternoon, just before the Sabbath began at sunset.
The high-day Sabbath, lasting from sunset Wednesday to sunset Thursday sunse, rather than the regular weekly Sabbath, lasting from sunset Friday to sunset Saturday.
Jesus rose anytime from 3PM Saturday - He was already gone early Sunday when Mary arrived. Matt 28:1-6
Jesus rose precisely three days and three nights after He was placed in the tomb.
The end of the Sabbath would be Saturday night, dawn is the morning which is actually Sunday morning, Jesus was already up and out of the grave.
When Jesus died on the cross two things happened immediately.
1. Jesus went directly into Paradise or Sheol.
2. The veil at the Temple Mount was torn.
“And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent;”
Within the Holy Place of the tabernacle, there was an inner room called the Holy of Holies, or the Most Holy Place, it was a most sacred room, a place no ordinary person could enter. It was God’s special dwelling place in the midst of His people.
During the Israelites’ wanderings in the wilderness, God appeared as a pillar of cloud or fire in and above the Holy of Holies. The curtain or veil to Holy of Holies was a perfect cube — its length, width and height were all equal to 15 feet. It was 60 feet long, 30 feet high and 4 inches thick.
It was comprised of 72 squares that were sewn together. This veil formed a barrier between the Shekinah or glory of God and man. It required 300 men to lift it.
Note: The references to the details of the veil come through a composition of scriptures and other references from the period, Ex 26:31-37: “Josephus reported that the veil was 4 inches thick, was renewed every year, and that horses tied to each side could not pull it apart. It barred all but the High Priest from the presence of God, but when it was torn in two at the death of Jesus (Mark 15:38), access to God was made available to all who come through him.” Exodus 26 describes the Tabernacle, and the veil that was torn in two was part of Herod’s Temple. The representation of “the veil” that Exodus describes is the veil that Josephus describes, which is to be identified with the veil that was torn in two.
The word “veil” in Hebrew means a screen, divider or separator that hides. Whoever entered into the Holy of Holies was entering the very presence of God. In fact, anyone except the high priest who entered the Holy of Holies would die.
Even the high priest, God’s chosen mediator with His people, could only pass through the veil and enter once a year, on a prescribed day called the Day of Atonement.
The veil was a barrier to make sure that man could not carelessly and irreverently enter into God’s presence. Even as the high priest entered the Holy of Holies on the Day of Atonement, he had to make some meticulous preparations:
He had to wash himself, put on special clothing, bring burning incense to let the smoke cover his eyes from a direct view of God, and bring blood with him to make atonement for sins. (Hebrews 9:1-7)
At the time of the tearing of the veil, only God could have carried out such a feat because the veil was too high for human hands to have reached it, and too thick to have torn it.
The torn veil illustrated Jesus’ body broken for us, opening the way for us to come to God. As Jesus cried out “It is finished!” on the cross, He was proclaiming that God’s redemptive plan was now complete. The age of animal offerings was over. (Hebrews 6:19-20)
24 “For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us:
25 nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others;
26 for then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.”
The Old Testament Covenant system of relating to God through the priest and ritual sacrifice has been set aside.
Hebrews 10:1-14 (vs. 10)
“For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect.
2 For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins.
3 But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year.
4 For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.
5 Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me:
6 in burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure.
7 Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God.
8 Above when he said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein; which are offered by the law;
9 then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second.
10 By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
11 And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins:
12 but this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God;
13 from henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool.
14 For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.”
“There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.
3 For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:
4 that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.”
The Levitical priest continued their service for another 40 years, but they were truly out of work the moment Christ died. Many priest came to Christ in the days following His resurrection.
“And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith.”
Today there are still Jews or Kohanim that loosely administer the role of the High Priest, the most blatant manifestation is in the Catholic faith with the advent of the Pope. No matter how it is justified the act of having a high priest is a form of denial that Jesus is the only high priest acknowledged by God Himself.