So the members of the Sanhedrin and the Jewish mob took
Jesus, and He went out having to carry His own cross, to the
place of a skull, which is called in Hebrew "Golgotha" (meaning -
place of a skull).
Jesus was so weakened by now with all the beatings and the
scourging He had endured, that it became impossible for Him to
carry His cross. So they compelled a passer-by, one name Simon of
Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, the father of
Alexander and Rufus, to carry Jesus' cross.
There had by now a large crowd gathered behind Jesus and
along the sides of the road. Many women were crying and lamenting
in sorrow for Him. It is perhaps more than interesting, that we
see here and will again up to the time of Jesus' resurrection,
while the men were at the point of giving up (going back home and
back to their secular jobs) many women were quietly in their
hearts holding on to their faithfulness to Jesus.
Christ could see and hear many of the women crying for Him
as He was being led to His death on the cross. He turned to them
and said, "Daughters of Jerusalem do not weep for me, but weep
for yourselves and for your children. For behold, the days are
coming when they will say, 'Blessed are the barren, and the wombs
that never bore, and the breasts that never gave suck to new born
children!' Then they will begin to say to the mountains, 'Fall on
us'; and to the hills, 'Cover us.' For if they do this action
when the wood is green, when things are relatively good, what
will happen when it is dry, when they will really have something
to complain about."
They were doing evil against a man that did nothing but good
for people, and taught wonderful truths of the word of God. The
Roman Government allowed the Jews freedom to travel, freedom to
practice their religion, times were quite "green" in many ways.
If they were doing this kind of evil in the time of green, Jesus
was saying, then what on earth would they do when it was dry?
Christ was once more telling them that the time was coming, in
the next generation of the children many of them would have, and
their children of those children, that people would have wished
they never would have brought children into the world. It would
all come to a head in 70 A.D. when the armies of Rome would sweep
into Jerusalem, destroy much of the city and the all of the
Temple except a part of the outer Temple retaining wall (which is
still standing in Jerusalem today, called the Wailing Wall), and
kill tens of thousands of Jews. It would be a bitter and terrible
time that would lay ahead for the people of Judea.
JESUS ON GOLGOTHA and CRUCIFIXION
Jesus, with two other criminals, who were to also be
crucified and put to death for their crimes, and the large crowd,
arrived at the place of the skull, or Golgotha in the Hebrew
We need to stop here and learn a few things about
"crucifixion." There are a number of false ideas people have
about the death of Jesus and about crucifixion itself, as
generally practiced by the Romans. And they did practice it a
great deal in putting criminals and their enemies to death.
I will quote from "Manners and Customs of the Bible" by
James M. Freeman. This is from the old original edition, not the
new one that most are familiar with today.
"Crucifixion was NOT a Jewish punishment, though among the
Jews culprits were sometimes tied to a stake by their hands
AFTER death. See Deut. 21: 22. It was an ancient mode of
capital punishment.....It was used by the Persians,
Assyrians, Egyptians, Carthaginians, Scythians, Greeks,
Romans, and ancient Germans. It was a shameful and degrading
punishment, and among the Romans was the fate of robbers,
assassins, and rebels. It was especially the punishment of
There were several kinds of crosses used. One consisted of
two beams of wood laid across each other in the form of an
X. Another had two beams of unequal length, the shorter
placed on top of the longer, like the letter T. In a third
variety, a small portion of the longer piece appeared above
the transverse beam; and on this the inscription was placed
(the shape as our popular Christian cross that appears in
churches etc. - my added comment).
This was doubtless the form of cross on which our Lord was
crucified. From the center of the perpendicular beam there
projected a wooden plug or horn, on which the body of the
condemned rested. The bottom of the cross was sharpened,
that it might be more easily driven into theground...It was
not generally more than ten feet high, so that when erected,
a part of it being in the earth, the feet of the sufferer
were not far from the ground.
The condemned man was first stripped of his clothing, which
seems to have been the perquisite of the executioners. He
was then fastened to the cross, which had been previously
fixed in the earth - though sometimes he was first fixed to
the cross - which was then lifted and thrust into the
He sat on the middle bar or horn, already mentioned, and his
limbs were stretched out and tied to the bars of the cross.
Large iron spikes were then driven through the hands and
feet. Sometimes the feet were nailed separately, and at
other times they were crossed and a long spike was driven
through them both.
In this situation the poor sufferer was left to linger until
death slowly came to his relief. This usually required two
or three days, though some lingered a longer time before
their sufferings ended.
The pain was severe, though not so intense as has sometimes
been represented. On this subject Dr. Stroud says, 'The
bodily suffering attending this punishment were doubtless
great; but either through ignorance or design, have been
much exaggerated. The insertion of the cross into its hole
or socket, when the criminal was previously attached to it,
did not necessarily produce the violent concussion which has
been supposed; and; as the body rested on a bar, it did not
bear with its whole weight on the perforated extremities. At
all events there have been many examples of persons enduring
these sufferings with the utmost fortitude, and almost
without a complaint, until relieved from them by death. A
fact of importance to be known, but which has not been
sufficiently regarded, is that crucifixion was a very
lingering punishment, and proved fatal, not so much by loss
of blood - since the wounds in the hands and feet did not
lacerate any large vessel, and were nearly closed by the
nails which produced them - as by the slow proses of
nervous irritation and exhaustion ' (The Physical Cause of
the Death of Christ, p.55).
After death the body was left to be devoured by beasts and
birds of prey. The Romans, however, made an exception in
favor of all Jews who were crucified; this was on account of
their law, as contained in Deut. 21: 22, 23. They were
permitted to bury the crucified Jews on the day of
crucifixion. This usually made it necessary to hasten their
death, which was done by kindling a fire under them, or by
letting hungry beats attack them, or by breaking their bones
with an iron mallet."
End of quote from "Manners and Customs of the Bible" old
I think it would be good to re-read the quote above, slowly,
and let it all sink in. There are things mentioned that most
Christians do not understand and have not been taught about Roman
crucifixion. Especially to note is that it was NOT usually a
quick death. It was not DESIGNED to be a quick death, in fact the
opposite was true. It was designed to be a slow humiliating
death. And we need to note that there was a peg on which the body
of the victim rested, so the weight was not on the hands, and the
victim was not having to pull himself up to breath. When this is
understood we can see why the victim often lived for two or three
days or in some cases even longer, before death came to them.
True, in the case of Jews their death was hastened, often by
breaking their bones, so they could die on the same day they were
crucified, in keeping with their law, as given by God through
Moses, Deut. 21: 22, 23.
We shall see, as we come to it, that they did come to break
the legs of Jesus, but found He was already dead, and the reason
for this, His already being dead, I will give as I cover that
part of the crucifixion. It is another bit of truth that most do
not realize because in most translations of the Gospels, a verse
has been missed out that was in the original Greek manuscripts.
Golgotha was near the city of Jerusalem. The now they had
Jesus up on the cross, with the other two criminals, one on His
right had and one on His left hand, also up on crosses. Pilate
wrote an inscription and placed it above Jesus' head. The
inscription was in three languages, Hebrew, Latin, and Greek.
Just about anyone could them read it, the Greek language was
especially the most common language of all who were within the
Roman Empire. The inscription read, "Jesus of Nazareth, the King
of the Jews."
The chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, "Do not write,
'The King of the Jews,' but 'This man said, I am King of the
Pilate with a cold and straight face answered them, "What I
have written I have written. It will not be changed."
The Gospel of Mark tells us that it was the "third" hour
when they crucified Jesus. Now, hours by the Jews were counted
this way. 6 a.m. to 7 a.m. was hour ONE. 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. was
hour TWO. 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. was hour THREE.
The Jews only gave "the hour" (at least in the Gospels).
They did not give any exact time as we might today, in saying
something like "8: 30" or "8: 45" or "ten minutes to 9 a.m."
We only know Jesus was put up on the cross between 8 a.m. and 9
a.m. on the morning of the 14th day of the first month in the
Many who were looking on and passing by were laughing and
making fun of Jesus. Here was this man that had worked many
mighty miracles for over three years, but now he was badly
beaten, His back and sides shredded by the Roman scourging, the
crown of thorns smash into His head, and black and blue bruises
all over His face, chest, arms, from being slapped and punched.
Here was this miracle working man, who claimed to be the Son of
God, who had raised Lazarus from the dead, now He was helpless
under Roman crucifixion. Yes, many were laughing at Him. Many
said, "You who would destroy the Temple and build it back in
three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down
from the cross."
The chief priests, with many of the scribes and the elders,
and some of the Pharisees, mocked also, saying, "He saved others;
he cannot save himself. If he is the King of Israel; let him come
down from the cross, and we will believe in him. He trusts
in God; let God deliver him now, if he is special in his eyes;
for he said, 'I am the Son of God.' "
It is recorded that the soldiers also did their share of
mocking Jesus. They must at that time have really been feeling
like they had the power, and not this Jesus man. Probably
thinking this man's power was not so great after all.
Yes, Jesus' enemies, and those who had become disenchanted
with Him, for not doing things their way against the Romans, were
now having a field-day, a great time deriding Him as He hung
there on the cross, seemingly completely helpless to do anything
about the situation He was in. Little did they know it was all in
the salvation plan of the Father in heaven, for all sinners who
would repent and accept Jesus Christ as their personal Savior.
Some standing by offered Jesus some wine mingled with myrrh.
But He refused it. This was a wine that had some bitterness
added, such as myrrh, that was a bitter substance, produced in
Arabia. It had the effect of stupefying the senses. It was often
given to those crucified to help make them insensitive to the
pains of death as they hung on the cross. Jesus knew this, and so
refused to drink it. He had to suffer the full physical suffering
and not be numbed from it in any way. This was the Father's will.
With most now deriding and laughing at Him, saying all the
things recorded for us in the Gospels, and probably a whole lot
more not recorded, Jesus looked at them, knowing they were
blinded by Satan, and their own human mind, and said, "Father,
forgive them; for they know not what they are doing."
Jesus was, as we have seen, stripped of His clothes. He may
have been put on the cross naked, but then they may have left His
under garment on him, that covered His private parts. We cannot
say for sure. But His clothes that were looked upon as useful
for others to have, were stripped from Him. There was enough
clothing for four parts, one for each soldier the apostle John
tells us. There were obviously four main soldiers that
were in charge of this crucifixion. Jesus' outer tunic John
tells us, was woven without a seam from top to bottom. This was a
special and costly way to make a tunic. It would have been
regarded by anyone in that day, as one of the finest tunics you
could have. The soldiers knew this tunic was of the highest
quality, and so they said, "Let us not tear it, but cast lots for
it to see who shall have it."
This was done to fulfil the prophecy of the Scriptures that
said, "They parted my garments among them, and for my clothing
they cast lots" (Psalm 22: 18).
Written January 2003