1. The Redemptive work of Jesus Christ
This was no ordinary crucifixion. Most commonly, a reusable cross beam was used. Wood was scare and it was reused and re-purposed. Common form a crude seat was attached to the stipes (upright beam) horizontally at the approximate location of the knees. The victim then straddled the upright piece, the knees bent around the horizontal member and nails were driven laterally into each ankle on each side of the stipes. The arms were tightly tied with ropes to the cross piece. This torture, indeed, took 3 days for all but the strongest to die from dehydration.
Impalement of the wrists AND feet is not survivable for 3 days. Most of the time victims were tied to the cross beam and ankles or feet, alone, were nailed. Nails through the wrist usually would have transfixed the median nerve and would have been a catastrophic injury to the hands rendering them permanently unusable. The thumbs would have pointed down for the rest of the person's life had he survived. Uninterrupted bursts of searing, breath-taking-pain assault the brain whenever a major nerve is touched, much less transfixed. I don't think Pilate realized that the high priests would have Christ impaled, not tied to the cross for they wanted him to suffer and were concerned that he would die enroute on Via Dolorosa after his horrifying scourging. This explains Pilates’s surprise at the early death.
Ropes were not used for Christ. Firstly, he gave no resistance and secondly, such would have made the torture easier to bear, if that is possible, since he would not be completely suspended by nails transfixing major nerves. Christ hung totally suspended by his wounds on arms torn from their sockets as declared in Psalm 22. Moreover, his shoulders and hips were deliberately dislocated by enraged crucifiers prompted by Satan to make him suffer at much as possible. Undoubtedly, nails shredded weight-bearing ligaments and tendons also.
The Shroud blood flows on the arms show that the palms were flat on the crossbeam, so He hung on twisted ligaments and muscles wound around dislocated joints. The Shroud shows Christ's beard was torn off at the chin. Hard to believe His agony could be accentuated, but it was, or that Christ could speak at all, but He did in dispensing mercy forgiveness to us. This cruelty is unimaginable. So unimaginable that no one thought any man, much less a god, would submit to it. It is only by his will alone and desire to save us that he endured for 3 hours.
Crucifixion victims WERE NOT normally scourged as even the Romans considered it too brutal and it would reduce time on the cross by the method mentioned above in transfixing the ankles.
The gospels clearly imply that scourging befell Jesus as a last-ditch effort by Pilate to appease the savage crowd and perhaps avoid His capital punishment. Roman and Jewish laws at the time forbade double punishments and Jewish whipping involved 40 strokes less one, Romans had no such controls on their scourgings. A Roman scourging could cut short the life of anyone surviving it to be crucified due to blood loss.
A trained man called a lictor administered the punishment with a flagrum, a short rod with pieces of metal, bone and glass (obsidian) sewn into a number of leather thongs. This design took wounds down to the bone. In the Gospel of Luke Christ states to the apostles that he would be crucified AND scourged (Luke 18:33). It is repeated again in Mathew 20:19. He would not have separated these tortures if scourging was understood to be part of the punishment; apostles would have been aware of it.
The wounds on the Shroud show not one, but two trained lictors administered this horrifying punishment. The stripes which covered Him from head to toe resembled the pattern on quickly baked unleavened bread reminding that He was the Bread of Life come down from Heaven.
3. The crowning
Thorns are mentioned in the Bible the first time when God informs Adam that he will contend with them to earn his bread. The pride in the thorn is permanently defeated on the cross. The thorns are emblematic of the sin of pride Adam and Eve brought into the world and do not appear until God cursed them. Thorns represents the punishment due original sin that came into the world due to pride. A curse which the Savior literally took upon himself in wearing His crown.
This was a unique, unheard-of cruelty. His sacred head was slammed against wood during the nailing, driving thorns deeper. On the cross he could not even put his head back to rest.
It was His will to empty himself completely for us that kept him alive for the crucifixion ritual after a vicious scourging and thorn-crowning ceremony that punctured the cranium according to Catholic mystics. This was a valid coronation of a king which even came with a legal document hung above His sacred head announcing his station as King of the Jews, printed in four languages, no less. Pilate rejected priests’ request to change the wording, “What I have written I have written”, (John 19:22). Not only a legal crowning, but a scepter, a symbol of kingship, was conferred and certainly drove thorns deeper in the skull when He was beaten with it.
Without the coronation, Christ would have left the world as pretender to the Throne of David, not a valid recognized, crowned Son of David, claimant. The angel said to Mary at the Annunciation, "The Lord will give Him the Throne of David, His Father, and of His kingdom there shall be no end". Without a legal coronation by the Romans before he died, his legal claim to the throne when he returns to displace an evil pretender would be legally invalid. God always does things “by the book” respecting man’s laws in use at the time.
4. “Light of the World” and the pattern
of light in the Temple permanently alters.
“While I am in the world, I am the light of the world” (John 9:5).
From head to toe there was not one inch of his body that was not screaming in agony. Hanging on dislocated shoulder, enduring breath-taking shooting cramps in the lower back and leg muscles, but he continued for three hours. The blood loss surely desiccated and dehydrated Him, yet He refused anesthetic drink when it was offered. He only mentions his towering thirst just before death “I am dried out; my tongue cleaves to my jaws”. (Psalm 22).
The scourging and thorns would have killed most men. I do not see how he lasted 3 hours and even managed to speak “in a loud voice” with a tongue that was surely swollen in consoling the thief and his holy mother. Speech of any sort was supernaturally aided since any normal man to have survived the tortures to this point would have been too dehydrated, pain racked, and weak to talk. Yet, Christ cried out in a loud voice, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me!" in His 4th recorded statement (of 7), from the cross. The dying Savior, who declared Himself, Light of the World, as long as he was in the world was being slowly extinguished and the world was required to take notice: a strange darkness had developed in the middle of the day.. Historians alive at the time noted it in their annals. It reminded all who where there of an eclipse of the sun. But that was impossible since Nisan 14 is a full moon feast.
As commentator J.R. Church pointed out, in a sequence of 7 statements from the cross possibly representing the menorah design, the fourth statement representing the fourth lamp represents the messiah as the "servant" lamp in rabbinical thought from which the others are lit. Interesting the fourth statement deals with flickering light as Jesus’ life signs ebb
In the temple sanctuary, the fourth lamp of the Menorah was flickering. When He died the fourth lamp of the Temple Menorah, went out and never burned again. All kinds of things were tried. The Levitical priesthood regarded this as a seriously negative omen which terrified them, which it was and should have.
Jesus’ tortures were supervised by the Levite priesthood which had a history of ancient cruelty. Levi and his brother Simon were by punished by Patriarch Jacob in Genesis 49 for their cruelty described in Genesis 34 to a neighboring community. The punishment: no tribal lands were given to Levites who were scattered among the other tribes, They eventually took over the Temple Mount and its services.
Exsanguination was the cause of death. I have always felt, that slow, but massive blood loss was Christ's immediate cause of death as this is consistent with the death of sacrificial lambs who (painlessly) died upon the altars of Jerusalem twice a day, every day. New Testament verbiage that "he emptied himself out for us", and "he shed his blood once for all mankind" clearly implies this. Now, experts are switching to the view that massive blood loss was the immediate cause of death rather than asphyxiation. Link
5. His Holy Mother
As violent as "Passion of The Christ Was", and that was enough to earn a "R" rating and cause undiscerning Catholic bishops around the world to condemn the movie, even this movie's barbarity pales compared to what actually took place. I don't see how the Blessed Mother survived the trauma, shock, grief, and extreme PTSD of what was surely the “unrightable wrong” of human history. In fact, it is only because the angels supported her that she survived at all. It is a great comfort to her when Christians meditate on the Savior's passion.
6. How God arranged for the central
event of creation on the right day, His chosen day, Nisan 14th, at
noon. This was the day when the doorposts and
lintels were marked with lamb’s (or goat’s) blood.
Yes, Christ acted as our chief priest at his own crucifixion to usher in the New Covenant. However, God still required the supreme Pascal sacrifice to also be mediated by the Levitical priesthood to close out the Old Covenant. Although they cleverly arranged for Pilate's agency, they were clearly the most responsible for the crucifixion on the exact day specified by God. Christ even tells Pilate that those who handed Him over bear the biggest sin.
"Your lamb shall be without blemish, a yearling male; you may take it from the sheep or from the goats. You shall keep watch over it until the fourteenth day of this month; and all the assembled congregation of the Israelites shall slaughter it at twilight" (Exodus 12:3-6).
As specified in the above Exodus passage, the Passover celebration was to take place on Nisan 14, but down through the millennia God allowed the date to celebrate the Passover to become Nisan 15, called the "Feast of Unleavened Bread", and the14th became the "Day of Preparation”, an ordinary day.
Levitical priests started preparing spiritually for the Pascal ceremonies on Nisan 14. As such, they could not come into direct contact with a condemned man, be directly responsible for a death, or touch death in anyway, so they used the Gentile, Pilate to accomplish their evil. If contact with the dead occurred accidently, they could always purify themselves with the ashes of the Red Heifer. Priestly malice resulted in blindness tripping them up so that they ended up fulfilling a critical messianic prophecy to the letter.
As a high holy day, Nisan 15th was also a "Sabbath" a generic designation which meant strict work requirements, and certain personal behaviors must be observed. It WAS NOT the weekly Sabbath, from which the notion that Christ died on Friday comes. Thus, on weeks with a high holy day, there could be 2 Sabbaths. Because the ultimate sacrifice for the life of the world occurred on Nisan 14, “the day of preparation”, God’s plans for this special day could go forward since it was NOT a holy day. It thus became legally Okay to murder Jesus as long as it was over by sundown, (6 P.M. when the day changed to Nisan 15, making it possible for Levites to even attend the execution.) God’s prophetic word perfectly fulfilled.
His torture and death likely occurred on a Wednesday to accommodate 3 full days and 3 full nights in the tomb. He likely rose some time after 6 P.M. on Saturday.
7. Wondrous portent
given to the Jews: An acceptable sacrificial victim.
After Christ Died no acceptable sacrifices were never offered again in Israel. Sacrifices were offered but auguries and signs showed them defiled. God sent terrifying warnings to the nation immediately after Christ died and they were recognized as such. The warnings to the Jews, discussed elsewhere, clearly implied that sacrifices offered after Jesus’ death and before the destruction of the Herod’s Temple were unacceptable. These omens were all centered on Jewish worship rituals. The first one, discussed above, was extinguishing the flame in the center lamp of the Menorah the hour Christ expired. (“As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world” John 19:22)
40 years of unacceptable sacrifices culminated when the Tenth Red Heifer of Israel, a pure unblemished virginal animal, being led to its immolation, gave birth to a perfectly formed lamb in the temple courtyard and . Ancient Historian Flavius Josephus documents it well in War of the Jews
Red Heifer ashes were required in Num. 19:21 to sanctify temple objects and purify Israel’s priests from sins so that they could conduct holy sacrifices and purify any other object or person in Israel deemed defiled. Those who touched and released the scapegoat, (representing sin of the people), into the wilderness had to be purified by the ashes before returning to their homes. A crimson ribbon was tied around its horn and hung on the temple gate always hand turned white to show God accepted the sin offering (scapegoat). But it never turned white again after Christ’s death.
After Christ's crucifixion, Israel was desperately trying to find a way to get the omens to stop. They recognized defilement of the Temple and thought that ashes from a new Red Heifer would be cleansing and pleasing to God. The portent of a lamb coming from an immaculate pure virginal animal signified that an even more resplendent, holy, victim had already been born of a pure virginal female absolutely pure and undefiled far above the ashes of the Red Heifer in removing all defilement and sin..
Summary From the crucifixion to the temple destruction terrifying omens conveyed that the yearly Yom Kippur sin sacrifice was unacceptable. (1) From 70 A.D. to 1967, Israel did not control the Temple Mount and no temple could be re-built. (2) From 1967 to present, control of the Temple Mount was restored in Six Days War (3) but incredibly, Israel ceded control to the Muslims who had a mosque on the site. To this day Jews are not allowed to worship on the Temple Mount.
8. Wonderous prodigy
given, this time to all men
St. Dismas, the ‘Good Thief’, is a prophetic picture of the nearing "Illumination" to come over all mankind.
Jesus was last to be crucified. Both thieves saw His unmitigated torture laid out before them which they did not receive. Neither was scourged. There were many ways to affix someone to the cross, left up only to the imaginations of the crucifiers. As hardened as they both were, one thief, Dismas, was so moved to pity to say, "He has done nothing to deserve this" while recognizing that the brutality and enormity of the injustice was so beyond human endurance only God could have arranged and endured it. We will be in the same position as St. Dismas on the Day of the Warning/ Illumination. But like the other thief, many will still ignore their God and depreciate Him and what He did.
Zechariah Described the Warning: Zechariah 12:10
“And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn”.
What event could Zachariah possibly be talking about? In my opinion, it is the Illumination of Consciences or The Warning.
Most Jews still reject Christ and are very busy planning for a new temple in Jerusalem which will again offer morning and evening sacrificial animals. Jewish sources have coupled the sacrifices to the very soon appearance of a Jewish messiah, descended from Solomon, but he will be a counterfeit. Not one week goes by without some mention of the very soon appearance of the Jewish Messiah in the Israeli Press. National Israel has still not realized that their sacrificial religious rituals are no longer acceptable to God ever since the hour Christ died. Remember the taunt, "If you are the Son of God, come down off of the cross and we will believe you. You saved others and cannot save yourself". The disbelieving, spiritually blind Jews will have to join the rest of the word and see God bleeding on the cross in order to be converted and attain heaven. The person they will glorifying as the Messiah is the Anti-Christ
When a new temple is finally
built, do you think its sacrifices will suddenly become acceptable?
imagine the frenzy in Israel if the Ark ( Of the Covenant) is recovered? Jews will surely read this
a sign to restore the ancient divine worship suddenly available to them through
their “messiah”. In fact, such actions may be the abomination which causes
desolation and may also be concomitant with a cessation of the Catholic Masses
around the world. Catholic Masses
may cease but their sacrifices will always be acceptable.
It will be interesting to see if
the 4th lamp of the Menorah can be lit.
Remember the taunt, "If you are the Son of God, come down off of the cross and we will believe you. You saved others and cannot save yourself". The disbelieving, spiritually blind Jews will have to join the rest of the word and see God bleeding on the cross in order to be converted and attain heaven. “I am come in my Father's name, and ye receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive” (John 5:47).
Don’t wait for the Illumination of Consciences to look upon the Cross, acknowledge your sins, and ask for mercy. The Blessed Mother continually warns that it will soon be too late and that the world will tremble before the justice that God sends upon humanity.
May all of humanity see His sign in the sky and come to understand the nature of a loving, merciful God who altered the course of humanity, to give Himself on this special day so that all men might live with HIM forever. He will soon offer His unfathomable Mercy to all men and may that time come quickly
--Judy Gassett 4/12/14
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