The sights, sounds, and smells of any form of public execution are never pleasant, but it is hard to find a method of execution more disturbing than crucifixion. The notion of crucifixion seems to have grown from the practice of impaling lifeless of living persons on a post. This practice morphed into crucifixion and was employed by the Persians, Phoenicians, Greeks, Jews, and eventually Romans.

The execution itself was conducted by attaching a person either to a tree or to a wooden post in one of several postures but always with arms extended. The victim could be either tied or mailed in this position to await death, which might take several days.

Death was most likely caused by asphyxiation when the muscles of the thorax controlling exhalation failed and victims could no longer rid themselves of the carbon dioxide building up in their lungs. Given the nature of this painful and humiliating death, the Romans reserved it for punishing criminals likes robbers, deserters, and political insurrectionists. Consequently, it was available to Pilate as a way of punishing Jesus for the crimes with which he had been charged (Luke 23:2).

When the Gospel writers describe the execution of Jesus, they spare us many of the more horrific details. But they want us to be absolutely clear on the fact that Jesus was crucified. The message is not just repeated, it is delivered by a wide variety of reporters as if to confirm the fact. Well before the soldiers took nail in hand, Jesus announced that this was going to happen to him when he went to Jerusalem (Matt 20:17-19; 26:1-2; Luke 24:7). And in the reports of Jesus’s passing, the word crucify is spoken by a variety of witnesses with widely ranging interests, including Pilate, the hostile crowd, Jewish leaders, an angel, the disciples on the road to Emmaus, and the narrator (Matt 27:22-23, 26, 31, 35; 28:5; Mark 15:13-15, 20, 24-25, 27; 16:6; Luke 23:21, 33; 24:20; John 19:6, 10, 15-16, 18, 20, 23, 41).

The variety of reporters and the repetition of the term leave us certain of the fact that Jesus was crucified.

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