In her book, The Crucifixion, Fleming Rutledge fills in the fine details of the cross, reminding us of the full horrors Jesus had to endure on our behalf. First, the Romans would have stripped Jesus naked and tied him to a post (likely while making plenty of sexual jokes) and then flogged him with a whip made out of leather cords with pieces of metal or bone attached to them. The first few lashings would expose the tissue under his skin, eventually breaking through to the skeletal muscles, weakening him to the point of collapse. Since they expected him to carry his own crossbar (the horizontal part of the cross) after this and he couldn’t, they had clearly scourged him intensely.
After being marched through the streets to undergo additional mockery, he would have then reached the location of the vertical part of the cross on which he would be mounted. There he would have gotten dirt in his flogging wounds as they put him on the ground to nail him to the crossbar through his wrists. Once he was hung up they would have then tied or nailed his feet down as well. At that point, breathing would have become torture as the way he hung would have required him to push himself up to breathe out every breath. Until he died there, he would have to deal with the increasing pain, bugs, blood, body functions, and more.
How incredible that Jesus chose to go through all of this for us. He could have argued his innocence and won, but he didn’t. He could have chose to not aggravate his enemies, but he did. He himself said he could have called angels down out of Heaven to escape the cross, but he didn’t. He willingly chose to die this death out of love for not just his friends, but his enemies, too. And by doing so, he saved us from sin and from death. Jesus on the cross is the revelation of revelations of who God is—and we would do good to remember that in every moment.
*This devotional was created out of the themes of Matthew 27:32-44 found in today’s reading at CommonPrayer.net. Below are the various AI-created pictures I typed into existence via Mid Journey to mock up artwork for today’s post. Everything in this post is taken directly from Fleming Rutledge’s book, The Crucifixion: Understanding the Death of Jesus Christ. Check it out for greater detail.