Sunday, July 11, 2010

What's the big deal about crucifying Christ?

Well, yeah, crucifixion is a horrible way to die.... first you would be beaten, whipped, kicked, punched and tortured by the prison screws (John 19:1-5), then you would have to carry the cross you were going to be executed on to the killing field (John 19:17), you would be in severe pain and dehydrated, weak, stumbling and distraught.

You would then be stripped, forced to lay on the cross on the ground and nailed to it. Then the cross would be hoisted up and dropped into a hole and fixed there. Now it was just a matter of time. Near impossible to keep breathing as you got weaker, previous trauma from the torture untreated, the lack of water would accelerate your demise, and help drive you into even greater despair. If time wasn't pressing, you would be left there to die over the next few days. If they wanted you dead quickly, your legs would be broken, and you would no longer be able to lift yourself up enough to take in more air.

So, not a pretty site, but the Romans crucified thousands. So what was so special about Jesus being killed in this way?

The unique point about the death of Jesus was not just the horrible way he was killed, but the way God put the sin of the world on him. This was the whole point of the death of the eternal Son of God. Jesus was the 'sin-bearer', and that aspect of his death sets him apart from any other sacrifice ever made.

We are told, "He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for
righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed." (1 Peter 2:24)

Jesus went to the cross knowing that he would become the target for God's dealing with sin. Job describes it in this way, "God has shriveled me up... his anger has torn me and hunted me down... God hands me over.. and tosses me into the hands of the wicked... He shattered me... He has grasped me by the neck and shaken me to pieces... He has also set me up as His target... He breaks through me with breach after breach" (Job 16). While suffering on the cross Jesus cries out, "Why have you forsaken me?" Christ was bearing the due process of God's law against sin, SO THAT WE COULD ESCAPE AND BE SAFE.

The ultimate torture that Jesus suffered wasn't the whips, the thorns into his flesh, the vinegar for his thirst, the nails pinning him to the wood, the desertion by his followers, or the jeers of the crowd, but the sin and separation he went through for us. And that final battle against our fallen nature was when God won the war to bring us back into His realm.

Christ became sin so that we could become righteous.

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Keep it nice :) or get kicked out :(