The Crucifixion

By Sylvia Bambola Monday, 29 September 2014 15:10:00

My “following Jesus’ footsteps” series is nearly over and will include only two more posts—this week and next. Then I will begin a new series.

Jesus’ mode of death was predicted (Psalm 22) over a thousand years before crucifixion was invented by the Romans. It was a barbaric means of execution; excruciating and often taking days for the victim to die by suffocation. Its cruelty was meant to frighten the populace into submission and was most commonly used to punish rebels. But even before Jesus was nailed to the cross, He endured thirty-nine lashes by a Roman scourge or flagrum. The flagrum was usually made of three thongs containing pieces of metal or bone, and literally ripped out pieces of flesh with every strike. Often this type and number of lashes were enough to kill a man.

But scripture tells us that even more punishment was inflicted on Jesus as a crown of thorns was jammed into His head and sadistic guards beat Him about the face and pulled out his beard. Before that long walk down the Via Dolorosa Jesus was already horribly disfigured and bloody. How He carried the heavy wooden cross-beam across His shoulders is hard to imagine. With every bump or rut in the pavement, Jesus’ body was jarred, causing the wood to rub against His open wounds; all the while, His strength and energy draining from Him with every drop of blood lost.

Finally, Jesus reaches Golgotha, the “place of a skull”.  Here He is totally stripped, His manhood exposed before being thrown to the ground and His arms stretched out. Then spikes—seven to nine inches long—were driven through small plaques of wood into His forearms. The plaques were meant to keep the nails from tearing through the flesh and the body pulling away from the cross. Even so, the weight of Jesus’ body will eventually cause the nails to rip through His forearms all the way to the wrists. Next, Jesus’ legs were bent and pulled to the side then spikes driven through other small wooden plaques and into the heels. This position makes it difficult to breathe and each breath is only obtained by the very painful upward push of the body. As Jesus gasps for breath, flies and salty sweat sting and irritate his wounds. And having lost a great deal of bodily fluids, Jesus is parched, causing His tongue to cleave to the roof of His mouth and making it difficult to swallow.

And then the real agony begins, as God the Father attributes to Jesus every sin you and I have ever or will ever commit. One by one our sins are place on Jesus as He takes on their shame and guilt and punishment. We are the rebels. But instead of paying the penalty for rebelling against God, Jesus, executed as a rebel by Rome, pays it for us. And when finally the last sin is paid, Jesus shouts, “It is finished.”  That word “finished” is “teleho” in Greek and means “complete, execute, conclude, pay, discharge a debt.” It means every sin has been fully paid for.

When you realize the great price Jesus paid to save us from ourselves it is impossible to see any other way to God. If there was, if there was any other route man could take to be acceptable to God, why in the world would Jesus have ever gone through all of the above?

But we do have one part to play in all this. Universal Salvation is a myth. Yes, Jesus died for every sin committed by every person, but forgives comes only IF we accept what He did. It’s like a poor man having a large savings account. It’s doesn’t do him any good unless he actually makes a withdrawal.

In the end, can we ignore this great love Jesus showed us?

Until next time,




Four Gardens

By Sylvia Bambola Monday, 30 April 2012 11:18:00

We all know the story of the Garden of Eden, the garden of disobedience where Adam and Eve violated God’s authority by wanting to become “as gods”. It took another garden, the Garden of Gethsemane, the garden of submission, and what followed, to correct the damage. It is the place where Jesus, on that fateful night, sweated blood and surrendered His will to that of the Father’s. “Not my will but thy will be done.” It is important to understand that without this surrender there would have been no crucifixion.    

Sadly, we Christians can spend too much of our lives living between these two gardens—vacillating between disobedience and submission. And what we find is that the garden of disobedience brings us no joy, while the garden of submission can often be a difficult and gut wrenching experience for this garden always leads to the third garden, the garden of death—death to self. John 19:41 tells us that “in the place he (Jesus) was crucified there was a garden; and in the garden a new sepulcher, wherein was never man laid.”  It was the place they buried Jesus after His submission in Gethsemane and subsequent trip to Golgotha.

It’s interesting to note that when Mary Magdalene saw Jesus for the first time as He stood near the empty tomb, John 20:15 tells us she thought He was the gardener.  And in a very real sense He was and still is. Words in the Bible are never wasted and often convey double meanings. Descriptions, too, are often types and shadows. In that context, Jesus is a gardener, planting and preparing His heavenly garden. Isaiah 61:1-3 is a prophecy of Jesus ministry and what He will accomplish. It’s this very scripture or part of it (Isaiah 61:1-2a) that Jesus read in the synagogue, declaring Himself the Messiah. But verse three tells us that His ministry was also to include making us “trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord.” I image that is why in Mark 8:24 when Jesus healed the blind man, this man saw with his spiritual eyes first before seeing with his physical eyes, and what he saw was “men as trees, walking”; and I imagine that’s why God takes such care in pruning us; why He does it so diligently and so often for it will lead us to the fourth garden.

The Song of Solomon—depicting, in types and shadows, Jesus as the bridegroom and the church as His bride—describes this garden very well. In chapter 4 verse 12 it calls the believer “a garden enclosed (it’s private and for His pleasure) is my sister, my spouse; a spring shut up, a fountain sealed.” It goes on in verse 13-16 to lavish praise on this garden talking about its pleasant fruits and sweet smelling spices. It is the garden we all hope to be planted in one day. It is the place where our beloved Jesus will come and enjoy his fruits (verse16) for we are all His workmanship, the product of His labors.

So, as we go through the hard trials of life, let us remember what God is trying to do. He’s trying to make something wonderful of us—a beautiful planting in His very own garden.

Until next week,