Why Did Jesus Have to Die by Crucifixion?
Why Did Jesus Have to Die by Crucifixion?
By: Frank Tunstall
Citizens of the Roman Empire who committed capital crimes were executed by beheading. Death for capital crimes as practiced by the Jews was by stoning. The penalty that awaited rebellious slaves, thieves, and common criminals was death by crucifixion, usually preceded by brutal floggings. With Jesus, the three were combined; He was treated as a slave, a thief, and a common criminal.
Many have asked the question, would not a less cruel death like stoning or beheading have served as an acceptable sacrifice for our sins?
The answer is “No,” and I will offer two reasons.
First. The brutal death Jesus died defines the utter evil of sin, and wise is the person who has the same opinion as God does about the seriousness of his sins. The church needs to wake up to the fact that God has feelings too, and our sins hurts him deeply. If you do not believe that, ask Noah (Genesis 6:6). King David had it right when, after his tragic tryst with Bathsheba, he prayed, “Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight” (Psalm 51:4).
When we comprehend Jesus died on a cross in our place, then we understand Jesus’ hanging on His cross is the timeless masterpiece portrait that defines just how sinful rebellion against God truly is.
The church must experience a new discovery of the sinfulness of sin. An eternal hell awaits all who do not repent and cry out to Jesus for forgiveness. Sin absolutely will not enter God’s heaven; never.
So, why crucifixion?
If Jesus had not died a death cruel enough to cover the sins of any evil person anywhere in the world, there would be many people who would believe the sacrificial death of Jesus did not include them. For only one example, many people in the Roman Empire were punished with crucifixion. Jesus’ death by crucifixion would certainly cause many of them to open up to Jesus on the way to their death.
How important that we agree with God.
Think about it. Jesus took the brutal whipping by scourging. It was followed by His even more brutal death of hanging on three crude nails. Together they show how our sins hurt God; our transgressions are as bad as the treatment Jesus’ received on Golgotha shows they are. Our only wise choice is to agree with God and cry out to Jesus in repentance for mercy and forgiveness.
Second. The cross also defines the great love of God (John 3:16). Jesus loved us so much he was willing to be the sacrifice for all mankind and pay the full price to the last denarii [penny] for our redemption. Jesus asked for no mercy and received no favors.
Yes, so many of us have walked into the ‘court of divine justice’ speechless with guilt written all over our attitude, demeanor, and habits, and could not even mount a defense. But an amazing thing happened that was almost too good to be true. When we stood at the bar of God’s justice, we heard, “NOT GUILTY!” The Lord pronounced us covered by the blood of Jesus and innocent of our transgressions, including all the evil things we had done and said.
For my personal testimony, I walked out of court a free teenager, and I thought, if Jesus loves me that much, I’ll serve Him to the day I die.
Paul wrote Jesus “redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written. ‘Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree’” (Galatians 3:13 ESV; Deuteronomy 21:33).
Jesus love is so deep and so broad that He took on Himself the worst of the worst penalties – death by crucifixion – so that He could save the worst of the worst. Indeed, Jesus was willing to pay a price that embraced the worst of the worst. The price at the same time included the best of the worst, for all are sinners and are numbered among the worst, weighed in the balances and found wanting (Daniel 5:27). Only Jesus is sinless (John 8:46). Even the best among us must go home by way of the cross too; there is no other way.
A million times out of a million,
A billion times out of a billion,
A trillion times out of a trillion…
…Jesus will always be as loving and forgiving as His cross reveals He is. “Father forgive them,” was His cry as He hung on the nails. “They do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34).
It took God’s love that is more-than-strong-enough and more-than-passionate-enough to pay the full price to atone for all people anywhere in the world – anyone who repents and believes Jesus is the Son of God.
Think about it. Is there anything you or I can do, any act of righteousness, that will be sufficient to pay Jesus for His agonizing death? We answer no single deed, nor any number of good works, and no amount of precious gold can pay Jesus for what He did on Calvary. Salvation is all about the free grace that comes through faith – grace plus nothing.
Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee;
Let the water and the blood,
From Thy wounded side which flowed,
Be of sin the double cure,
Save from wrath and make me pure.
Nothing in my hand I bring,
Simply to Thy cross I cling;
Naked, come to Thee for dress;
Helpless, look to Thee for grace;
Foul, I to the fountain fly;
Wash me, Savior, or I die.