Saturday, 15 April 2017

The Nails Aren’t the Point

If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably sat through at least one sermon where the preacher goes into graphic detail about the crucifixion of Jesus. He[1] may have gone into detail about how they would slowly nail nine inch nails into Jesus’ wrists and feet (and not his hands because the weight of the victim would have just resulted in the nail tearing through the palms). You may have heard that the victim of crucifixion was then lifted up and forced to hang from the cross. The position they hung from meant that they slumped forward, resulting in severe difficulty in breathing. In order to take a normal breath the victim would have to push themselves up with their legs. But this was an incredibly painful act and the victim would soon slump back down again into their original position. Eventually the victim would be too exhausted to push themselves up and they would suffocate to death. If the guards were feeling particularly merciful they might break the victim’s legs to hasten the suffocation process. And of course this was all often done after the victim was severely whipped with a multi-thonged whip, each thong ending with a sharp shard that would dig into the victim’s skin and rip their flesh out.

The whole point of going into this graphic detail is to show you how much Jesus loved you. That he would go through such graphic torture on your behalf because of his deep love for humanity.

But to make the physical pain of crucifixion centre-stage is to miss the point of what Christ went through.