The exquisite cruelty of the ancients makes our modern day bombings, bludgeonings, shootings pale in comparison.
When attaching a man to a pole and cross beam, there to die a lingering and agonizing death, the preparation for same took the victim to the very boundaries of life, but failed to allow relief in death, so that the suffering could take place with the maximum amount of agony.
It is easy now to think of such things as an abstraction. But feel in your heart the reality of it. Bad enough to be fastened weakly and so helplessly and realize the life was draining from you.
But the nails used to fasten the victim were hammered into the hands in such a location to impact on certain nerves known to the torturers so that the pain was the equivalent of lightning bolts shooting up from the hands through the arms into the shoulders and shuddering into the chest.
The pain, when you think about it and imagine the reality of it, was beyond belief.
And this is what was done to Him on a day called Good Friday, a term that is the prime example of oxymoronic. For what was good about that horrible day?
Here we face the great dichotomy, the mystery of contradiction. It had to happen this way because this -- or something like it -- was how it was foreordained. He had to die in an act of redemption, had to be the sacrificial lamb, the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.
So the Christian world believes.
Therefore, because it had to be, there cannot logically be criticism of how it happened; there cannot be condemnation of the cruelty. It was supposed to be this way. So those who did it must logically be blameless, for weren't they carrying out the master plan?
He was taken into custody in the night time, fully aware of what awaited Him, for hadn't he begged the Father for relief, that this cup should pass from Him?
But he surrendered and if you think about it that fact should melt your heart for Him in an outpouring of love.
It was Passover and after the seder meal the soldiers took Him.
Certainly, from the point of view of the authorities He was seen as a troublemaker, and authority does not abide troublemakers of any stripe.
This troublemaker was brought before the authorities and passed around through different jurisdictions until He wound up before the ruler of the invading force.
When the masses were given a choice to spare Him or Barrabas, the masses chose Barrabas. They have ever since, as George Bernard Shaw pointed out in his Preface to Androcles and the Lion which you should read if you haven't already done so.
He was stripped totally naked, fastened to a low stone pillar and scourged with the "flagellum," whips with leather strands at the ends of which sharp bones were entwined. When the whips stroked the back of the man being scourged, the bones bit and tore chunks of flesh out.
When that torture was finished, He lugged part of the instrument of his torturous death to Golgotha, the place of the skull, where the final horror took place.
There He was nailed to the cross and thus the crucifixion, literally meaning to be affixed to a cross.
The cross had become the symbol of all that happened that day and all that He taught. It has endured. The agony that brought it into meaningful existence should never be forgotten.
Friday was dreadful, but on Sunday came the resurrection, the renewal of life.
And so it has been all these years -- the horror of an unbelievably agonizing death followed by a triumph over death.
Thus the Easter story goes on -- now for two millenium.
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