Intense, Pure Pain
If ever there was an understated point in Scripture, this is it. One should wonder if the brevity of these four words can truly express the harrowing anguish of the cross.
There they crucified him.
I admit that I cannot render the full sense. In the 9th grade I had to leave the room when my health teacher talked about how to apply a tourniquet. When people explain the process of abortion I get nauseous and must distract myself.
But we cannot distract ourselves from the cross. We must exegete the crucifixion and stare into the pit of its hellish-ness if we are to grasp the doctrine of salvation.
So horrendous was the act of crucifixion that only the most vile and debased in society were subjected to it. Murderers and robbers were sentenced to it, but only if they were slaves. Free men (i.e. Roman citizens) were exempt because it was such an egregious way to die.
They say that there was no relaxing of pain in crucifixion. You know how you "get used to the pain" of a broken arm or headache. It hurts, but it eventually plateaus. You can cope because you can keep the pain from mounting by immobilizing it or numb it by distraction
Not so with crucifixion. The intensity of its beginning, as the spikes are driven through that ever most sensitive point on the bottom side of the wrist, only increased by the ever so slowly passing moments.
Try doing placing your arms out wide and doing arm circles for 2 minutes. Try hanging from a chin up bar for 1 minute. Now multiply that burning sensation by 3 hours. Add to it the piercing effect of the nails, dehydration, fatigue, and, among other things, the flies that would inevitably swoop in to your face which you had no ability to swat away.
Scholars also mention the throbbing headache that would accompany crucifixion. The heart would pump blood out, but veins would not be able to circulate it. So the blood would continue to build up in the condemn person's head. This wasn't just an insufferable migraine, it would be mounting pressure that would be downright volcanic.
We have not yet even begun to plumb the depths of Golgotha. But yet we hear the ever so clear echo of Eden: "In the day you eat of it you shall surely die."
Interestingly the Septuagint translates the word "die" as apothnēskō. At root is the word thanos (to die). Fans of the Avenger movies will understand the reference to its super-villain.
But the word in Genesis 3 is an intensified form of the word thanos and it is combined with the word apo, which, as a prefix, means "departure" or "completion." In sum, it is complete death in its most intense and extreme form. It is a departure from everything that may be labeled life.
This is why Christ came in the fullness of time. The Lord had been preparing the world for this exact form of execution. It is only after the barbarous Romans were raised up and their torturous means of punishment implemented that the Mediator could come.
Only then could he serve as the Surety and once for all sacrifice for sinners. Only then could the wrath of God truly be appeased. Only then could the catastrophic curse of God's covenant be fully meted out and lifted from off our heads.
Sunday Nights @ Hopewell
Join us on Sunday evenings as we learn about the holiness of God. Discussion is led by Mike Naylor and based on RC Sproul's classic series on the topic. 6-7:15 pm
Logic on Fire: The Life of Martyn Lloyd-Jones
Martyn Lloyd-Jones is claimed by many to be the greatest preacher of the 20th century. His sermons and books continue to be some of the most valuable assets for Christian growth. Check out this video documentary to learn more about his legacy.