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A Thing to Be Executed
by Dr. Johnny O. Trail, LMFT
Cruelty in any form disturbs reasonable human beings. Our country has laws in place that protect animals and people from cruelty, because we know that certain people mistreat others for their own demented pleasure. When one reads about the nature of the crucifixion, several facts stand out about those putting Jesus to death. One overriding fact is the unbridled cruelty that was manifested during His punishment and death.

One crucified by the Roman Empire was oftentimes called an “andrapodon.” This means a man footed creature1—not exactly human, but a thing to be owned and possessed. Crucifixion was designed to punish the one who violated the law and to break the spirit of any person who might be in a state of rebellion. As a conquered people, the Jews were seen as things to be possessed and broken to the will of the Roman Empire. It is much easier to barbarize a fellow human being when you have relegated them to being sub-human in your reasoning process. This is what the Roman Empire did.

No Jew would commend himself into the hands of the empire. Even the unfaithful ones hated what the Romans represented. Oppression, brutality, and lack of autonomy coupled with unfair taxation created a hotbed of political unrest in Judea. The Jewish sect of Zealots traveled in the region with knives under their tunics with the idea of murdering any lone, unsuspecting Roman soldier. In response to such upheaval, the Roman Empire established a garrison in the area and sent a new governor into the region named Pilate to correct the situation.

Pilate did several things that agitated the situation. He allowed the Roman soldiers to carry shields that honored the emperor as a deity which violated Jewish law regarding graven images. Next, he took money from the treasury to build an aqueduct that was fifty miles long. Adding injury to the robbery of the temple treasury, he had protestors brutally clubbed by Roman soldiers hidden among the mob of Jews angered by Pilate stealing these funds.2

This hatred of Pilate did not prohibit the Sanhedrin from using him as a political pawn that could be manipulated into murdering the sinless Son of God. It was not within the power of the Sanhedrin to pass a capital sentence upon Jesus, so the Gentiles had to be included. John 19:12b says, “…The Jews cried out, saying, "If you let this Man go, you are not Caesar's friend. Whoever makes himself a king speaks against Caesar."

The Jews were willing to be complicit with a ruling empire that they hated to make sure that Christ—who they hated more—was put to death. They even acknowledge Caesar as king to seal the fate of Christ. John 19:15 says, “But they cried out, "Away with Him, away with Him!

Crucify Him!" Pilate said to them, "Shall I crucify your King?" The chief priests answered, "We have no king but Caesar!"

Sadly, their true king stood in their midst. They rejected Christ in front of Pilate and others due to envy and hatred. Envy was also a motivating factor that caused them to reject God in the Old Testament during the time of Samuel. 1 Samuel 8:7 says, “And the LORD said to Samuel, "Heed the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them.”

Consequently, cruelty was the order of the day. The Exactor Mortis3 was responsible for making sure that the four soldiers under his command followed his orders. He was to make sure that every possible degree of pain could be exacted upon the unfortunate soul who fell under the wrath of the Empire’s rulers.

While it was not the intention of Pilate to execute Jesus by flogging, it was a method of punishment that most often resulted in the death of the one being beaten. Two Roman soldiers alternated with a flagellum as they beat the naked back and lower areas of our Savior’s body. This would not allow the victim to have any opportunity to rest from such brutality.

This was not enough to calm the bloodlust of those who wanted our precious Savior dead. Luke 23:22-24 says, “Then he said to them the third time, "Why, what evil has He done? I have found no reason for death in Him. I will therefore chastise Him and let Him go." But they were insistent, demanding with loud voices that He be crucified. And the voices of these men and of the chief priests prevailed. So Pilate gave sentence that it should be as they requested.”

The scriptures are nondescript regarding the particulars of crucifixion. Luke 23:33 says, “And when they had come to the place called Calvary, there they crucified Him, and the criminals, one on the right hand and the other on the left.” The brutality of the Roman soldiers in exacting pain was perfected in crucifixion.

The cross beam that He would be nailed to was affixed to His back as he walked outside of the city. Falling under the weight of the plank and suffering from the sock sustained from being severely beaten, another, Simon the Cyrene, would be prevailed upon to bear the load to Calvary (Luke 23:26).

Upon arrival at Golgotha, nails would have been driven into his wrists, His feet would have been placed on top of one another, and one nail would have been driven into both legs at once to spare the expense of an extra nail. After this, Jesus would struggle to breathe for several hours and ultimately die by suffocation. At the sixth hour of the day, Jesus would pass from this life (Luke 23:44-46).

The Sanhedrin made a deal with the devil they hated (Pilate) and sold their souls in the process to murder the sinless Son of God. To Rome, Jesus was just another “man footed creature” to be brutalized and crucified. To the faithful, He became our Savior and the promise of our soul’s salvation. To Him be all glory and honor for what He suffered on our behalf!

1 Men-stealers - Vine's Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words ( 2 Josephus, The Jewish War 2:175-177. “[Pilate] made the soldiers mix with the mob, wearing civilian clothing over their armor, and with orders not to draw their swords but to use clubs on the obstreperous. He now gave the signal from the tribunal and the Jews were cudgeled, so that many died from the blows, and many as they fled were trampled to death by their friends. The fate of those who perished horrified the crowd into silence.”
3 Exactor Mortis - The God Code