Which Cross Do You Truly Honor?
Saleama A. Ruvalcaba
While I know Thanksgiving Day is not directly related to Jesus Christ, I decided with Advent season to follow, what better way than to help us all fully understand the agony Jesus Christ endured for us so we can be ever so grateful today. We gloss over the fact that He was brutally crucified, but I wonder how many of us really know the torture He bore for our sins? While reading “The Case for Christ”, by Lee Strobel, it was the first time as a believer I was brought to tears learning more about the details of the crucifixion. I’ve seen many movies that depict this very well, but there is something about watching a movie where we can almost trick our brains into believing we’re just watching a movie. I’ve heard sermons on Jesus Christ’s death – but there was something so moving in the pages of this book that has helped me truly be thankful for my Savior.
What Jesus Christ experienced on the cross actually started before the cross. In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus was so anguished he began to sweat small amounts of blood. Luke 22:44 This was due to the physiological stress he was under and there’s a medical term for it called “hematidrosis”. Because of the stress Jesus endured, his skin became very fragile. With His impending flogging by the Romans soldiers, his skin would be very sensitive. (The Case for Christ p. 209)
Lee Strobel knew the details of the flogging would be grim – and he was right. As a former detective, he had seen plenty of dead bodies. But there was something, he said, unsettling about hearing the intentional torment by one human being to another human being. Roman flogging consisted of 39 slashes to the body. The whip was braided leather thongs with a medal ball. The whipping would cause great bruising. As the beating continues it causes deep lacerations. Many who were flogged in this manner died before they even reached the point of the cross. And if they did not die, they went into “hypovolemic” shock which is what happened to Jesus Christ. John 19:28 (The Case for Christ p. 211)
Once Jesus Christ survived the flogging, He was then nailed to the cross. The Roman soldiers used five to seven inch spikes that were driven through Jesus’ wrist, not His palms as some paintings suggest. The nails driven through the wrist was a central location in order to keep the body from not moving. In addition, the point in which the nail was driven was located on a direct nerve. Having this particular nerve punctured caused excruciating pain. According to Lee Strobel, the word “excruciating” was invented to explain the agony of crucifixion. Once Jesus was nailed he was hoisted up. His arms were stretched apart and pulled out so far His joints popped out, fulfilling a prophecy one-hundred years earlier, Psalm 22:14. (The Case for Christ p.212)
So Jesus endured the stress in the Garden of Gethsemane. He was brutally flogged having his body ripped apart. He went into hypovolemic shock. He had nails driven through central nerves in his body. His joints came out. Now hanging on the cross he goes through the slow process of asphyxiation – where His body suffocates. Through all of this Jesus utters “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Luke 23:34
Oh, dear Lord, do we know what Jesus Christ did for us? Are we thankful as we say we are? We get upset when people cut us off while driving. We get upset when people do not return our phone calls. We get upset at family members over money. We get upset with our children if they get a B,instead of an A, on a test. We get upset at our spouse for forgetting the eggs. We scheme, we lie, for our own selfish needs. We commit adultery rather than bring Christ into our marriage. We will stand in long lines tonight and then have a massive brawl in the store if someone grabbed the last item we were waiting for. We complain! Boy do we complain. We complain if the drive-thru worker didn’t put everything in the bag. We complain if someone is actually driving the speed limit – and we’re stuck behind them trying to speed. We complain if it rains and ruins our hair. We complain if it’s too hot, or too cold. We complain if our favorite reality T.V. show didn’t record. We complain about our pastor, the music, the staff, the volunteers. We complain about the police, the mayor, the government, the president. Lord, do we get it? Are we thankful for what you’ve done for us? Are we thankful for the life you’ve given us? Are we thankful you saved us? We say we’re thankful Lord – but help us truly be thankful today for the cross – and for what it really means. Forgive us oh Lord, for our careless lifestyle. Forgive us, Lord for saying with our lips we are thankful, but allowing our action to reveal our true heart. We love you Lord. We are thankful. We need you. Help us today to be thankful for you!