The Romans, who perfected the art of suffering on the cross, knew the severity of the pain that was to be endured. As the victim lay with arms stretched out to the west and the east, nails were placed in his hands. These nails were placed in such a way that it would sever the main nerve in the hand. This would cause extreme burning in the hands and render them paralyzed. This, however, was the least of the pain. Next the knees were bent at an angle as to hold the weight of the body; the feet were then affixed to the cross and nailed to it. All this was done so that a slow and painful death could occur. This brought forth catastrophic results which included the following: The arms would be dislocated from the socket, and the weight of the body rested on the chest causing the rib cage to constrict. This extra weight on the chest would hinder the persons breathing. Naturally if one can’t breathe properly, there would not be adequate oxygen for life. “After several hours the heart begins to fail the lungs collapse and fill up with fluid, which further decreases oxygen delivery to the tissues. The blood loss and hyperventilation combines to cause severe dehydration.”⁵ Over the duration of several hours with collapsing lungs, dehydration, and lack of oxygen the heart would fail. This would lead to a slow suffocation and in severe cases would cause cardiac arrest, thus the victims heart could even burst. This is a process called “cardiac rupture”.⁵ All these elements combined would eventually lead to the death of the victim.
The cross was where Jesus the Christ took His last breath. Indeed it was Jesus that made the cross famous. Through the examples in the Bible, the crucifixion is displayed from all angles. It shows the cruelty of the cross, the public humiliation, and the extent of pain before and during death. Through these examples we are given the key that unlocks the history of the cross. We are told that it was the Romans who physically crucified Jesus. Knowing this information, we can then investigate its origins. Crucifixion, invented by the Persians and perfected by the Romans, was a brutal form of execution. It was designed to strike fear into the hearts of men. It was a death given to the few who could withstand the beatings that came before the cross. Many people fell to this cruel form of punishment and were made to be an example. Fortunately Emperor Constantine put a stop to this form of execution. Though this form of execution seems to have subsided, man will never forget this dark time in our history. The cross will never be forgotten because of the pain, suffering, and death that took place on them.
- Eastman, Mark Dr. Koinonia House, http://www.khouse.org/articles/1998/113/