Crosses, gallows, guns, nooses, and chemical injections all have one thing in common, they are instruments used to torture and execute. "In antiquity crucifixion was considered one of the most brutal and shameful modes of death. Probably originating with the Assyrians and Babylonians, it was used systematically by the Persians in the 6th century BC. Alexander the Great brought it from there to the eastern Mediterranean countries in the 4th century BC, and the Phoenicians introduced it to Rome in the 3rd century BC. It was virtually never used in pre-Hellenic Greece. The Romans perfected crucifixon for 500 years until it was abolished by Constantine I in the 4th century AD. Crucifixion in Roman times was applied mostly to slaves, disgraced soldiers, Christians and foreigners—only very rarely to Roman citizens. [Death ranged from 6 hours to 4 days.]... The attending Roman guards could only leave the site after the victim had died, and were known to precipitate death by means of deliberate fracturing of the tibia and/or fibula, spear stab wounds into the heart, sharp blows to the front of the chest, or a smoking fire built at the foot of the cross to asphyxiate the victim."**
Crucifixion was horrible. It cannot be prettied up. It cannot be glossed, spruced up, or tidied in any way. It was gruesome and it was excruciatingly painful. Because of these facts the Father chose the worst possible means known to mankind, to annihilate sin's penalty. We focus upon the Cross, most of the time, as just the way Christ died, but there is more to it than that. The Cross pictured God's wrath against sin. Sin as judged by God was found horribly destructive; therefore its punishment had to be mete for the crimes it inflicted. God punished sin forever at the Cross.
Christ Became Sin for Us
But sin as judged, also had a penalty to deal with, physical and spiritual death. To be rid of the penalty it had to be served—to be carried out, so God imposed it upon Himself. In Christ the fullness of the Godhead (Tri-Unity of God) dwells, Col. 2:9. The Apostle Paul is clear, "Jesus became sin for us." Sin in itself is intangible. It is the unseen presence that clings to all that destroys. However, through Christ it became tangible. Jesus became the physical and tangible reality of the blackness of sin placed upon the Fathers portrait of holiness. If and when we view Christ prior to the Crucifixion we see innocence—a clean blank slate or page, so-to-speak; the perfect picture of peace, power, love, hope, sinlessness, grace, long-suffering, kindness, pure goodness, and God's presence. In short, we see holiness and purity. It was on this blank slate that the Father chose to etch SIN and its punishment into His pure sinless flesh. Sin, in all its blackness then stood out starkly against the pure clean visage which was Christ. Immediately it became ugly, offensive, shameful, repugnant, and fit only for a burial that could place it out-of-sight and out-of-mind. You see, those who crucified Christ just saw another man—another criminal, a bloody body, that while still alive on the cross, kept them from punching the end-of-day time clock. Very few of the persecutors, really pondered who He was. There were some from the crowds to add to the dying thief, and the lone Roman Soldier who stood in awe at who He confessed Christ was. For others it was the end-of-day pleasures—the sin that He, right in their face, hung crucified to destroy, that held their attention. So, like anything that offends, anything that hinders pleasure, anything that delays routine, He had to be taken down as soon as possible. His visage was more marred than they wanted to bear, Is. 52:14. The heat that emanated from that one life on that cruel cross burned in their minds so long as it was visible, so long as it hung bleeding in the light and soon after, under darkness. But let it never be said that Jesus was ever, not for one moment, out of God's sight, nor out of His mind. The sin He bore turned God's head but His heart was on the cross with His Son. God's will had been accomplished. Jesus allowed His life to be taken, He gave it up for us, for no man could take it from Him, John 10:17-18, 19:30; Luke 23:46. Sin was crucified and Jesus' obedience would become the crowning glory of the church He alone would soon build, Matt. 16:18.
Sin was Buried
In His love for His Son the Father would not allow Jesus to suffer anymore than was necessary, so before the birds could come to chew on the flesh, He was taken down and buried in a freshly hewn and unoccupied, rich man's tomb, Is. 53:9; Matt. 27:57-60; sin still had to be buried in death, Col. 3:1-3. The burial was part of God's intended plan. Sin was now buried. Again there is more to the story. Because the Father raised the Son from the tomb in the glorified body He had before He became a man like us, so will all who will believe in sincerity upon Jesus have our lives buried and raised as well, Col. 3:3. In Christ our sinful life would be hidden never to be brought to light or judged again. What the Father accomplished in His wrath against sin was now forever finished.
Christ and Our Cross
23 Then He said to them all, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his crossdaily, and follow Me. 24 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. 25 For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost? 26 For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, of him the Son of Man will be ashamed when He comes in His own glory, and in His Father's, and of the holy angels. Luke 9:23-26 (NKJV)
What is our Cross? Is it not to follow in the Masters path? Is it not to hear the call of the Great Shepherd, the Door of the Sheep and respond in thankfulness to be counted worthy of His sheepfold? Each life who turns in sincerity to Christ receives a call. We all receive a commission that only we can fulfill. It is to Christ we live and to Christ we must die. But it is to the call He places on our heart and life that we must be obedient till death. Our Cross is His Cross. It is simply a call to say, "Thank You Lord for the calling. Thank You for the endowment of trust. I now bind my heart and my life to carry out that calling in order to bring glory to Your Holy Name. My desire is to lift You up that You, oh Lord, will draw all men unto Yourself. My Cross oh Lord, I will bear in Your name and without shame. Please empower me through Christ to do this. In Christ I pray, amen!"
Have you prayed that prayer? Will you pray that prayer? Can Christ rely on you?
**Death, usually after 6 hours—4 days, was due to multifactorial pathology: after-effects of compulsory scourging and maiming, haemorrhage and dehydration causing hypovolaemic shock and pain, but the most important factor was progressive asphyxia caused by impairment of respiratory movement. Resultant anoxaemia exaggerated hypovolaemic shock. Death was probably commonly precipitated by cardiac arrest, caused by vasovagal reflexes, initiated inter alia by severe anoxaemia, severe pain, body blows and breaking of the large bones. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14750495