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Abram Chernov
Abram Chernov

The Crucifixion

The crucifixion of Jesus is recorded in the New Testament books, known as the Gospels - Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. This Bible story is the central summary of the saving Gospel of Jesus. Jesus had prophesied of his death in Matthew "from that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life." Jesus understood that his life would be required as a sacrifice for the sins of man.

The Crucifixion

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At the height of his ministry and miracles, many Jews came to believe in Jesus as the Messiah, the Son of God. Jewish leaders feared Jesus because of his growing followers. With the help of Judas Iscariot, Roman soldiers arrested Jesus, and He was put on trial for claiming to be the king of the Jews. According to Roman law, the punishment for rebellion against the king was death by crucifixion.

The Roman governor Pontius Pilate was reluctant regarding the punishment for Jesus. Pilate could find no wrong in Jesus, yet he wanted to give the people what they wanted, and that was the death of Jesus. Pilate washed his hands in front of the crowd to symbolize that he was not taking responsibility for the bloodshed of Jesus and then handed Jesus over to be beaten and lashed. Jesus had a crown of thorns thrust on his head and made to carry his cross along the pathway to the hill where he would be crucified. The location of Jesus' crucifixion is known as Calvary, translated from "a place of skull."

The crucifixion of Jesus was a part of God's plan from the very beginning of the birth of Jesus. The sin of mankind would require a sacrifice. The sinless life of Jesus was lived and given so that man could receive salvation and eternal life in heaven. The Scriptures below contain the full Bible story of the crucifixion. To learn more about the resurrection, visit our Bible story page on the Resurrection of Jesus.

Pilate orders Jesus to be flogged as required by Roman law before crucifixion Traditionally, the accused stood naked, and the flogging covered the area from the shoulders down to the upper legs. The whip consisted of several strips of leather. In the middle of the strips were metal balls that hit the skin, causing deep bruising. In addition, sheep bone was attached to the tips of each strip.

Fr. Fichtner offers a striking retelling of the passion narrative that enables anyone to participate in the crucifixion today as a Peter; Mary Magdalene; John, Son of Zebedee; or Mary, Mother of Jesus - not only in the suffering but also in the triumph. He vividly retells thirty-eight of Jesus' stories by characterizing fifteen people who are somehow, for better or worse, involved in the crucifixion of Christ. The characterizations are drawn from the gospel sources of the Passion narrative and described in the historical present tense to be applicable today. Each presentation concludes with a reflection-prayer that updates the event of the crucifixion and shows its personal and social implications.

I find most references to the crucifixion in Matthew 26 and Matthew 27. We also see accounts of the crucifixion in Luke 23, John 18 and John 19. Some recollections are different from book to book of the Bible. All accounts reveal that Jesus was mocked, ridiculed, and called the King of the Jews. Others tempted Him to use His godly power to come down from the cross if He be the Son of God.

If you have read the Bible and seen the movie Passion of the Christ, you know a few things about the crucifixion. Jesus was betrayed by Judas, as was prophesied. Complete details of events leading up to the crucifixion are listed in Matthew 26 and Matthew 27. Crucifixion details are also listed in Luke 23, John 18, and John 19.

The abuse meted out to Jesus in the Praetorium led to his collapse and early removal from the Cross, and to resuscitation. Individual and corporate suggestibility among the disciples and the women explains the reports of subsequent appearances. This hypothesis accepts the historical events surrounding the crucifixion of Jesus but explains what happened in the light of modern knowledge. Faith does not require the abandonment of thought or the assent to concepts not scientifically acceptable. The Church will be strong if it accommodates proven knowledge within its creeds. If it does not, all that is left is blind belief, far beyond the credulity of most people.25

One can understand the emotional overflow that the crucifixion elicits, for grief, sadness, shock, and other feelings are natural human reactions when one faces suffering and death, even those of another, let alone the death of our beloved Lord. Nonetheless, emotional pain and sorrow cannot and should not overshadow nor take away from what Jesus Christ has accomplished on the cross: our salvation. This salvation is clearly reflected in the prayers of the rite of the Adoration of the Cross:

Consequently, the Great Friday of Crucifixion is both an awe-inspiring mystery and a joyous celebration, and the crucifixion should not be separated from the resurrection, as Rabbula (6th century) correctly suggests by depicting the crucifixion and the resurrection united in one scene.

In light of Syriac theology, how do I now see the ritual of the Great Friday of the Crucifixion? It is no longer a bleak and somber rite. The human emotional dimension associated with it cannot be denied, yet the crucifixion of our Lord and Savior is, more importantly, an awe-inspiring event, an incomprehensible mystery, a celebration of our salvation, and the source of eternal joy: it is the wedding celebration of Christ and the Church! Therefore,

The "crucifixion murder"Spring, 1971. The camera shutter clicks on an innocent childhood scene: two boys in a playground, playing on swings, goofing around in the sandlot, walking hand-in-hand with a toddler in blue sneakers and a red-and-white striped t-shirt.

Jesus will present His hands with the marks of Hiscrucifixion. The marks of this cruelty He will ever bear. Every print of thenails will tell the story of man's wonderful redemption and the dear price bywhich it was purchased. The very men who thrust the spear into the side of theLord of life will behold the print of the spear and will lament with deepanguish the part which they acted in marring His body. EW 179.2 041b061a72


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