What if there were No Crucifixion? It Was Meant to be Seen!
Have you ever considered the question: “What if Jesus had not been crucified?” What would we miss that was meant to be seen?
What if Jesus would have died of cancer in Bethany? What if He would have died in a boating accident on the Sea of Galilee? What if He had been run down by a chariot in the busy streets of Jerusalem?
Why is the cross so important? Why did God, in His infinite wisdom, choose a cross as the instrument to ransom the souls of many? At such great cost, what does the cross teach us that God wants us to see and know? Why put the son of God on a slave’s tree?
It had to be a Visible and Public Spectacle. In 71 B.C. a slave named Spartacus led a slave revolt against the Romans that was eventually decimated. The Romans captured approximately 6,000 slaves and crucified them at varying distances for 119 miles along the Appian Highway between Rome and Capua. Jesus was crucified on a hill just outside of Jerusalem so that everyone could see as they walked by. This was also one of the points of the cross itself. Not only was it a terribly elongated and painful death, but the cross elevated the visibility of those who were executed. The Romans wanted crucifixion to be a visible and public warning not to cross their authority and rule.
It had to be Wrathful and Horrifically Cruel. Tim Keller writes in his latest book, The King’s Cross, “Crucifixion was designed to be the most humiliating and gruesome method of execution. The Romans reserved it for their worst offenders. It was a protracted, bloody public spectacle of extreme pain that usually ended in a horrible death by shock or asphyxiation.” (p. 198) And as horrible as the crucifixion itself (John 19:18) was, there was the subsequent flogging, beating, beard pulling, cross carrying and naked humiliation (for Jesus the crown of thorns) that took place prior to being nailed to the wooden beams so they could drop the cross in a hole that made it stand up. It was uncensored cruelty at its worst. God wanted us to have a picture of His wrath on the sin of sinners.
It had to be for Criminals and Insurrectionists. The cross was for people who violated the Roman Law. It was for slaves like Spartacus who led revolts. It was for people like Barabbas, an insurrectionist and murderer (Luke 23:18-19). The cross was for people who had actually committed crimes, like the two criminals mentioned in Luke 23:39-43, who were crucified next to Jesus. The cross was for sinners, law violators and transgressors.
Jesus was publicly executed as a heinous criminal with the most wrathful punishment in the history of mankind.
God wants us to see these truths. He wants us to see that what we deserved Christ absorbed.
If there were no crucifixion we lose the picture of redemption; we would lose the story of the wrath of God poured out on an innocent man who atoned for our heinous crimes against an infinitely Holy God.
Be brave and look on the cross with much sorrow, but look also with great thankfulness and joy. The Cross was meant to be looked at.