Remembering the meaning of “Crucified”

Posted by on Jun 8, 2015

Enola Gay

“The plane dropped the atomic bombs and ended the war.” That is a summary statement of the Enola Gay dropping the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, killing 140,000 people instantly. The dates were August 6th and 9th 1945 and those events ultimately ended World War II.

The bombs changed warfare in the history of mankind and devastated the people and the cities they were dropped on. That summary statement however is lacking the magnitude of what occurred when the bombs exploded.1

In John 19:18a we find a similar summary statement. John is describing Jesus walking to Golgotha and in vs. 18a.

John 19:18a
There they crucified Him, and with Him two other men, one on either side, and Jesus in between.”

John commits 3 greek words that translate into, “There they crucified him.” His statement is a statement of fact, but we must excavate “crucified” to treasure the depth of John’s summary statement.

Crucifixion was a form of torture carried out by the Romans. It was the most dishonorable, shameful and undesirable death possible. It was a death reserved for traitors, thieves, bandits and condemned slaves. The victim was stripped of his clothes, laid on the rough central beam with his arms tied to the transverse beam. Large Iron nails were driven through the soft flesh of the hands or lower forearm with the feet standing on a block with a matching nail driven through the feet. The goal of this inhumane injustice was suffering, not immediate death. It was common for those suffering to last 12 hours and up to several days eventually dying of thirst, starvation, or intolerable pain.2

The Romans generally left the bodies to be devoured by birds of prey, the Jews however buried the corpses. What is amazing is that crucifixion was common. Many died by crucifixion. It remained common until Constantine abolished it in reverence to his Lord.

John summaries this immense suffering by saying, “There they crucified Him.”

To the physical eye Jesus was a man that was misunderstood by the leaders of Israel, betrayed, falsely accused and had no means to extract himself from his death. The scene is that of an extreme unspeakable injustice and a good man died as a result.

All this is true. Jesus suffered unjustly and suffered immense agony for something that he never did, he was falsely accused and he remains the only man who was ever “good” (Mark 10:18). But looking at the crucifixion from a purely outward view fails to see the other dimension that only the Godhead knew. He was not only enduring the pain of crucifixion, he was bearing God’s wrath for the sin of others. This is clearly spoken of in 1Peter 2:23-24.

Peter is encouraging scattered believers to endure suffering and gives them Christ as the supreme example of suffering well.

1 Peter 2:23
“and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously; 24 and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.”

Jesus was physically suffering under the bloody and agonizing weight of Roman Crucifixion. At the same time Believers must remember that he was continually entrusting himself to his Heavenly Father, and bearing our specific sins for a specific purpose; that we might die to sin and live to righteousness.

I daily sin and I know I am always in the company of other sinners. As you think on Jesus’ suffering to put away sin it is good to survey your week. Were you quick to anger? Did you trust God in every circumstance? Did you covet? Did you lust? Were you lazy? Have you loved your neighbor in all things? Have you loved others as Christ has command? In all these questions we are reminded that we fail to meet God’s standard, and we deserve God’s immediate wrath as a just punishment. However because of the God’s grace in Jesus Christ even these sins have been paid for by Jesus Christ.

All of this is what Christians must remember when reading John’s summary statement, “There they crucified him.” Christians must remember the details of the crucifixion, the blood, the torture, the agony, the wrath of God, Jesus’ continual entrusting to God and our resulting salvation.

John says in John 20:31 that he wrote his gospel for one purpose, “So that you may believe Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God and that believing you may have life in His name.”

What a dangerous thing should we forget the magnitude of Christ being crucified on our behalf. This summary statement It is a comfort to those that believe because it is the event that brought us salvation. There is also a promise made by God to all; that if you turn from your pursuit of what God calls sin (repentance) and place your trust in Jesus Christ to save you from God’s wrath, He will graciously save you!

1. A+E Networks,, published: 2009, Author: staff, accessed date: July 7th 2015.
2. Spence-Jones, H. D. M., ed. St. John. Vol. 2. The Pulpit Commentary. London; New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1909. (pg. 426)

Enola Gay Image by:  Insomnia Cured Here