Is the Crucifixion a Sacrifice?

Is it really a "great sacrifice" to "die for our sins" if you're back alive again after 3 days? Dr. Tony Mariot answers

Most people would prefer not to die under strenuous circumstances, most would not like to be killed violently, humiliated, betrayed and mocked.

For those who are of faith, what Jesus went through would be considered a significant sacrifice. Forget the advent of what was lost in the manifest spiritual context, lets simply examine the physical aspect of the crucifixion itself and see if it qualifies as a sacrifice, despite the resurrection on the other side.

The crucifixion can be found in (Matthew 27:29-46, Mark 15: 16-39, Luke 23:33-47, John 19: 16-36).

It is 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 criminals. Roman law usually protected Roman citizens from crucifixion, except in the case of desertion by soldiers.

Women were also crucified on rare occasions, as recorded in the writings of Josephus' Antiquities. A freed Roman woman was in league with the priests of a temple of Isis in Rome, she was crucified under Tiberius along with the priests who was not a Roman citizen.

In another account, a woman named Blandina, who, during the persecutions of Christians in Lyons was crucified upside-down, and scourged naked.

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.

SOURGING Scourging prior to crucifixion served to weaken the victim and if blood loss was considerable it produced 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 which was one third of a mile (600 to 650 meters) away.

Simon of Cyrene was made to carry Christ's cross because he was not able to go further, 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, probably reopening the scourging wounds. 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 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). Jesus was crucified on the Tau cross or capital T not the Latin cross or small t.

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 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) - (Matthew & Mark 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 Wednesday, Jesus cried out in a loud voice it is finished, 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)

Most people would not endure this level of suffering for the sake of others, having said all this, anyone who experienced this very real, tangible, prolonged and excruciating death for the sake of others, regardless of any prospect of a resurrection 3 days later, would require more than a sacrifice and belief, it would require a love beyond imagination. My question is if you were willing to do this, with all the particulars included, would it be a sacrifice?

Why Christians Believe What They Believe 

© Tony - W.A.M