John 19:31-37 – “Since it was the day of Preparation, and so that the bodies would not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken and that they might be taken away. So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first, and of the other who had been crucified with him. But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water. He who saw it has borne witness—his testimony is true, and he knows that he is telling the truth—that you also may believe. For these things took place that the Scripture might be fulfilled: “Not one of his bones will be broken.” And again another Scripture says, “They will look on him whom they have pierced.”
Despite his young age and good health, Jesus was so physically devastated from his sleepless night, miles of walking, severe beating and scourging that he was unable to carry his cross alone. A man named Simon of Cyrene was appointed to carry Jesus’ cross. Upon arriving at his place of crucifixion, they pulled Jesus’ beard out—an act of ultimate disrespect in ancient cultures—spat on him and mocked him in front of his family and friends.
Jesus the carpenter, who had driven many nails into wood with his own hands, then had 5-7 inch, rough, metal spikes driven into the most sensitive nerve centers on the human body, through his hands and feet. Jesus was nailed to his wooden cross. His body twitched involuntarily as he screamed in sheer agony.
Jesus was then lifted up, and his cross dropped into a prepared hole, causing his body to shake violently on the spikes. In further mockery, a sign was posted above Jesus that said, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews” (John 19:19). A painting later discovered from a second century Roman graffito further shows the disrespect of Jesus at his crucifixion. The painting depicts the head of a jackass on Jesus’ body being crucified, with a man standing alongside of it with his arms raised. The caption reads, “Alexamenos worships his god.”
At this point during a crucifixion, the victims labored to breath as their body went into shock. Naked and embarrassed, the victims would often use their remaining strength to seek revenge on the crowd of mockers who had gathered to jeer them. They would curse at their tormentors while urinating and spitting on them. Some victims would become so overwhelmed with pain that they would become incontinent, and a pool of sweat, blood, urine, and feces would gather at the base of their cross.
Jesus’ crucifixion was a hideously grotesque scene. Hundreds of years in advance, the prophet Isaiah saw it this way: “He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted” (Isa. 53:3–4).
Crucifixion was painfully slow death by asphyxiation. As the victim hung on the cross, they would struggle to fill their lungs with air and pass in and out of consciousness. To gather air, they would push themselves up on the spikes through their feet. To hasten death for such things as a holy day, soldiers would break the victims’ legs hastening their suffocation. Jesus legs were not broken in fulfilment of prophecy. Exodus 12:46 said, “Do not break any of the [Passover lamb’s] bones.” Psalm 34:20 said, “…he protects all his bones, not one of them will be broken.” The final Scripture quoted is from Zechariah 12:10, “they look on me, on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him.”
The spear through Jesus’ side ensured He was dead. This fact makes it laughable when proponents of the “swoon theory”, including some Muslim scholars, purport that Jesus did not die but merely passed out on the cross.
At the cross, we see the full revelation of the evil of this world and love of God. If Jesus walked the earth today, we’d kill Him again and, to add to the pain, we’d livestream it and then gloat about it on social media while advertisers profited from His pain.
What most shocks you about the crucifixion of Jesus Christ?