When they came to a place called The Skull, they crucified Him there. And the criminals were also crucified—one on His right and one on His left.Luke 23:33
(σταυρός, staurós, “a cross,” “the crucifixion”; σκόλοψ, skólops, “a stake,” “a pole”): The word is not found in the Old Testament. It is derived from the Latin word crux. In the Greek language it is [stauros], but sometimes we find the word [skolops] used as its Greek equivalent. The historical writers, who transferred the events of Roman history into the Greek language, make use of these two words. No word in human language has become more universally known than this word, and that because all of the history of the world since the death of Christ has been measured by the distance which separates the events from it.
Crucifixion was a practice that originated with the Persians and was later passed on to the Carthaginians and the Phoenicians. The Romans perfected it as a method of execution in order to cause maximum pain and suffering over a period of time. The punishment was meted out for such crimes as treason, desertion in the face of the enemy, robbery, piracy, assassination, sedition, etc. Among the Romans, crucifixion was preceded by scourging, undoubtedly to hasten impending death. The victim then bore his own cross, or at least the cross beam [patibulum], to the place of execution. This in itself proves that the structure was less ponderous than is commonly supposed. When he was tied to the cross nothing further was done and he was left to die from starvation. If he was nailed to the cross, at least in Judea, a stupefying drink was given the victim to deaden the agony.
The number of nails used varied. Nails, about 7 inches long and with a diameter of 1 cm ( roughly 3/8 of an inch) were driven in the wrists. The points would go into the vicinity of the median nerve, causing shocks of pain to radiate through the arms. It was possible to place the nails between the bones so that no fractures (or broken bones) occurred. Studies have shown that nails were probably driven through the small bones of the wrist, since nails in the palms of the hand would not support the weight of a body. In ancient terminology, the wrist was considered to be part of the hand. Standing at the crucifixion sites would be upright posts, called [stipes], standing about 7 feet high. In the center of the stipes was a crude seat, called a [sedile] or [sedulum], which served to act as a support for the victim. The [patibulum] was then lifted on to the stipes. The feet were then nailed to the stipes. To allow for this, the knees had to be bent and rotated laterally, leaving the victim left in a very uncomfortable position. Jesus suffered from severe hypovolemia from the loss of blood. When the cross was erected upright, there was tremendous strain put on the wrists, arms and shoulders, resulting in a dislocation of the shoulder and elbow joints. The arms, being held up and outward, held the rib cage in a fixed end inspiratory position which made it extremely difficult to exhale, and impossible to take a full breath. The victim would only be able to take very shallow breaths.(This may explain why Jesus made very short statements while on the cross). As time passed, the muscles, from the loss of blood, lack of oxygen and the fixed position of the body, would undergo severe cramps and spasmodic contractions. A tablet, on which the feet rested or on which the body was partly supported, seems to have been a part of the cross to keep the wounds from tearing through the limbs.
Before being nailed to the cross, Jesus was beaten so severely that His form did not look like a human being. All indications are that the Romans pulled out His beard. (Isaiah 50:8). The suffering of death by crucifixion was intense, especially in hot climates. Severe local inflammation, coupled with significant bleeding of the jagged wounds, produced traumatic fever, which aggravated the exposed wounds to the heat of the sun, the strain on the body and insufferable thirst. The swelling around the rough nails and the torn, lacerated tendons and nerves caused excruciating agony. The arteries of the head and stomach were surcharged with blood and a terrific throbbing headache ensued. The mind was confused and filled with anxiety and foreboding. The victim of crucifixion literally died a thousand deaths. Tetanus often ensued and the rigours of the attending convulsions would tear at the wounds and add to the burden of pain, till at last the bodily forces were exhausted and the victim sank to unconsciousness and death. The length of this agony was determined by the strength and fitness of the victim, but death rarely occurred before thirty-six hours had elapsed. Instances are on record of victims of the cross who survived their terrible injuries when taken down from the cross after many hours of suspension (Josephus). Death was sometimes hastened by breaking the legs of the victims and by a hard blow delivered under the armpit on the left side before crucifixion.
The slow process of suffering inevitably resulted in death. The cause of death was most likely by suffocation. The chain of events which ultimately led to suffocation are as follows: With the weight of the body being supported by the sedulum, the arms were pulled upward. This caused the intercostal and pectoral muscles to be stretched. Furthermore, movement of these muscles was opposed by the weight of the body. With the muscles of respiration thus stretched, the respiratory bellows became relatively fixed. As dyspnea developed and pain in the wrists and arms increased, the victim was forced to raise the body off the sedulum, thereby transferring the weight of the body to the feet. Respirations became easier, but with the weight of the body being exerted on the feet, pain in the feet and legs mounted. When the pain became unbearable, the victim again slumped down on the sedulum with the weight of the body pulling on the wrists and again stretching the intercostal muscles. Thus, the victim alternated between lifting their body off the sedulum in order to breathe and slumping down on the sedulum to relieve pain in the feet. Eventually, they became exhausted or lapsed into unconsciousness so they could no longer lift their body off the sedulum. In this position, with the respiratory muscles essentially paralyzed and the victim suffocated and died.
Due to the shallow breathing, the victim’s lungs begin to collapse in small areas. causing hypoxia and hypercarbia. A respiratory acidosis, with lack of compensation by the kidneys due to the loss of blood from the numerous beatings, resulted in an increased strain on the heart, which beat faster to compensate. Fluid builds up in the lungs.. Under the stress of hypoxia and acidosis the heart eventually fails.
There are several different theories on the actual cause of death. One theory states that there was a filling of the pericardium with fluid, which put a fatal strain on the ability of the heart to pump blood. Another theory states that Jesus died of cardiac rupture. The actual cause of Jesus’ death, however, “may have been multifactorial and related primarily to hypovolemic shock, exhaustion asphyxia and perhaps acute heart failure. The sudden death of Christ evidently was a matter of astonishment (Mar_15:44). The peculiar symptoms mentioned by John (John 19:34) would seem to point to a rupture of the heart. Luke mentions Him as having sweat like blood. The medical term for this, “hemohidrosis” or “hematidrosis” has been seen in patients who have experienced, extreme stress or shock to their systems. The capillaries around the sweat pores become fragile and leak blood into the sweat.
One of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water. Death in crucifixion was hastened by the breaking of the legs of the victim. This procedure, called crurifracture, prevented the ability of the victim to take in a good breath. Death would quickly occur from suffocation. In Jesus’ case, He died quickly and did not have His legs broken. To confirm that a victim was dead, the Romans inflicted a spear wound through the right side of the heart. When pierced, a sudden flow of blood and water came from Jesus’ body. The medical significance of the blood and water has been a matter of debate. One theory states that Jesus died of a massive myocardial infarction, in which the heart ruptured. Another theory states that Jesus’ heart was surrounded by fluid in the pericardium, which constricted the heart and caused death. The physical stresses of crucifixion may have produced a fatal cardiac arrhythmia. The spear thrust through the right side of the heart would allow the pleural fluid (fluid built up in the lungs) to escape first, followed by a flow of blood from the wall of the right ventricle.
Men try to fix problems with duct tape. God did it with nails.Anon
All heaven is interested in the cross of Christ, all hell terribly afraid of it, while men are the only beings who more or less ignore its meaning.Iowa Chambers
Most Christians are being crucified on a cross between two thieves: Yesterday’s regret and tomorrow’s worries.Warren Wiersbe
I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. (Paul of Tarsus)Galatians 2:20