Among Rembrandt’s many self-portraits is the remarkable one in the painting Elevation of the Cross. The artist has included himself among the soldiers, struggling to raise the cross, weighted with the body of Jesus. Thus he shows that he believes what we all have been taught: that we were ourselves responsible for the death of Christ; that our sins put him there. So when we hear that haunting song, “Were you there when they crucified my Lord?” we all answer, “Yes!”

We do not see ourselves there in the person of his devoted mother, nor in the person of loyal John, nor even in the person of those who watched from afar. We see ourselves as being there in the person of the soldiers who drove the nails, raised the cross and hurled the spear. We also understand that when we continue to sin we crucify Him all over again. (Hebrews 6:6)

-Robert Shannon, Preaching May/June 1998

 


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Here is a letter written to a local advice column along with the response:

Dear Eutychus:
Our preacher said, on Easter, that Jesus just swooned on the cross and that the disciples nursed Him back to health. What do you think?
Sincerely, Bewildered

Dear Bewildered:
Beat your preacher with a cat-of-nine-tails with 39 heavy strokes, nail him to a cross; hang him in the sun for 6 hours; run a spear through his heart; embalm him; put him in an airless tomb for 36 hours and see what happens.
Sincerely, Eutychus


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In his book Dare To Believe, Dan Baumann shared some thoughts about crucifixion that should deepen our gratitude for what the Savior did for us. He wrote, “The twentieth century has forgotten how cruel and hideous crucifixion really was. We have perhaps unwisely and sometimes unconsciously glamorized the cross. Jewelry and steeples alike are often ornamental and attractive but carry nothing of the real story of crucifixion. It was the most painful method of public death in the first century. The victim was placed on a wooden cross. Nails, undoubtedly wooden, were driven into the hands and feet of the victim, and then the cross was lifted and jarred into the ground, tearing the flesh of the crucified and racking his body with excruciating pain. Historians remind us that even the soldiers could not get used to the horrible sight, and often took strong drink to numb their senses.” Jesus endured 6 hours of such anguish, just for us so that we might be forgiven of all our sin!


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How painful was crucifixion? One man describes it like this:

“The unnatural position made every movement painful; the lacerated veins and crushed tendons throbbed with incessant anguish; the wounds, inflamed by exposure, gradually gangrened; the arteries – especially at the head and stomach – became swollen and oppressed with surcharged blood; and while each variety of misery went on gradually increasing, there was added to them the intolerable pang of a burning and raging thirst; and all these physical complications caused an internal excitement and anxiety, which make the prospect of death itself – of death, the unknown enemy, at whose approach man usually shudders most – bear the aspect of a delicious and exquisite release.”


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