On the cross, one would endure a slow and painful death. There have been many theories about the physical torment a body must have had to endure during this type of execution. In the Gospel according to Mark we read the series of events that Jesus had to go through. We must ponder that most who were hung on the cross had to endure similar things. In fact in recent times we have learned that Jesus was not the only one to have been nailed to the cross. The right heel bone of a first century man from Giv’at ha Mivtar (Jerusalem) was excavated and shows evidence of crucifixion. This is important because the heel bone has a Roman nail piercing through it, and several fragments of olive wood were found.4 Now that we know there is proof that others were nailed to the cross just like Jesus, let’s look at the Biblical example concerning the chain of events during a crucifixion.
We encounter one of the most accurate accounts of a crucifixion in the Gospel according to Mark the fifteenth chapter. It starts in Mark 15:15 which reads, “So Pilate, wanting to gratify the crowd, released Barabbas to them; and he delivered Jesus, after he had scourged Him, to be crucified.” In this verse we see the first thing that was done to Jesus was the scourging. “Scourging was an extreme form of punishment. The skin on the victim’s back was usually shredded, thus exposing the underlying muscle and skeletal structures. Severe blood loss and dehydration were the rule; many victims died from such scourging.”⁵ The next element was the crown of thorns; this was unique to the crucifixion of Jesus as he was being mocked by the Roman soldiers for His kingship (Mark 15:17). If a person were to survive the first line of punishment, the beatings would most likely come next. Mark 15:19 states, “Then they struck Him on the head with a reed and spat on Him; and bowing the knee, they worshiped Him.” Even though this was an effort to mock Jesus once again, this beating and spitting would most likely occur to all in this circumstance. It was after this horrific beating that the one being crucified would have to carry his cross to the place where he would take his last breath. This style of cross was made with two very large timbers and had a removable section. Common belief is that the crossbar that the criminal was made to carry weighed about 75-100 pounds, which only added to the pain and suffering.
- Randall Price, The Stones Cry Out. Oregon: Harvest House Publishers, (1997)
- Eastman, Mark Dr. Koinonia House, http://www.khouse.org/articles/1998/113/