Forgive my thread title…it draws attention, but I am somewhat serious about the question. This is not a troll, and definitely not intended to offend, but a serious thought of mine.
I often find myself pondering this in Mass, looking at the Crucifix.
We seem to just take it by default that crucifixion was the most horrible thing that could ever be done (with the scourging, etc.), and that Jesus allowing himself to be crucified should be looked at as the Ultimate Sacrifice, the humbling event of God being “killed” by man. I know crucifixion was horrible, don’t get me wrong. That’s not the point. The point is, was Jesus able to ease His own pain through the process being that He is God?
I think to myself…“Jesus was indeed God, and knew he was God, and knew he would be resurrected, so why do we think this was so bad for him? Maybe, being God, he willed it to not really hurt inside, but only gave it the appearance of suffering? God can do anything, no? In fact, why was it even necessary to cleanse humanity’s sin through the Cross? Couldn’t God just cleanse it with a thought?”
I can think of other horrible executions, sadly. What if He had been beheaded, or burned alive, as ISIS is doing now to so many Christians? Resurrection from that would seem to be even more amazing to witnesses!
I don’t know why I think about this? I think we are just supposed to not question the Cross, and that it is considered taboo to do so.
I often also wish God would appear and speak loudly from the sky, to change this modern age. So people would hear it, and witness it, and not mistake it. And to give us a stronger Faith, for those of us who have trouble with that. Like what happened in many instances in the Bible
I sometimes wonder why I should believe Christianity is any more correct than any other religion passed down through the centuries? I guess that is too deep and involved a subject to get answered here.
Hoping to get some opinions on these thoughts, but serious thoughts on why I think this way, and not flames.
I know crucifixion was horrible, don’t get me wrong. That’s not the point. The point is, was Jesus able to ease His own pain through the process being that He is God?
The second consciousness of God(Jesus Christ, the Word, the Son of God) became man. The Son’s self-consciousness entered into the thought of creation, subjecting Himself to the conditions of a finite human nature, so yes he would have experienced all the pain any human would have had to endure.
God can do anything, no? In fact, why was it even necessary to cleanse humanity’s sin through the Cross? Couldn’t God just cleanse it with a thought?"
God made a covenant with His people, the Jewish people, in the Old Testament. The only way for a covenant to be broken is for one side to die. God, Jesus, died on the cross. This is symbolic of starting a new covenant( the New Testament) with all the world. The Jewish nation( which it was called during Jesus’ time) was meant to be the priestly nation that would guide the Gentiles to God.
What if He had been beheaded, or burned alive, as ISIS is doing now to so many Christians? Resurrection from that would seem to be even more amazing to witnesses!
The Resurrection was amazing, and crucifixion was the main way people were executed in the Roman Empire( if you were not a Roman citizen). This actually occurred, you must put this into historical context.
I often also wish God would appear and speak loudly from the sky, to change this modern age. So people would hear it, and witness it, and not mistake it. And to give us a stronger Faith, for those of us who have trouble with that. Like what happened in many instances in the Bible.
This is one of the reasons God gave us free will. Without temptation and free will
there would be no opportunity for us to grow in virtue every time we successfully resist the allure of sin and remain faithful to God’s will. God permits a certain amount of darkness or sin in the world so that virtue and salvation can be gained. You can read
James 1:2-5. It explains it a little.
The Cross has a basis in Old Testament Temple worship and the sacrifice of the Passover lamb.
Thousands of lambs were slaughtered at twilight on the evening of Passover. These were skewered so that they could be skinned and dressed for roasting. Two skewers were used, one up through the lamb’s torso and another across the lamb’s front legs so that the skewers formed the shape of a cross. Picture thousands of lambs on crosses on the evening of Passover.
It isn’t just about being the most gruesome execution possible. Jesus is the Lamb of God, the perfect passover. To the Jews who understood the Passover, Jesus’ execution was more than just a routine Roman execution. It was immediately identifiable to the early Christians as a passover sacrifice for this and many other reasons.
I don’t think it’s taboo to ask about the cross. If anything was off limits, I don’t think I would remain Catholic. My journey of faith involves a lot of curiosity, and research into my questions reveals the beauty of our faith, but I don’t think I am ever satisfied completely…anyway
As to your question about whether Jesus felt the true pain of the cross
(that is where the word excruciating came from, did you know that?
crucifixion was so painful they invented a word to describe it!),
Yes, he could have dulled the pain, but he could also have turned the stones to bread in the desert, smote every Centurion occupying Judea, or called down a host of angels to minister to him, but he didn’t…I take it on faith that he was all in, as it were. Maybe that’s not enough to convince you, but it’s what I feel.
As to why it had to be the cross, I can’t answer you. Maybe you can do some research into the Doctrine of the Atonement. I tried researching it, but there is a lot, and it’s complicated. Just know that others have pondered on this question. I sometimes wonder if his DEATH atoned for our sins, or if it was his perfect resignation to the divine will, and the cross was just a symbol of that.
You know, people always take the phrase “we all need to carry our cross” as a way to explain suffering, and maybe that’s true sometimes, but I think it means just doing whatever God asks you to do, with no questions. Sometimes it’s hard, and suffering is involved, but sometimes it is great happiness.
I don’t know if that makes sense, or if I’m way off base, but it’s something I think about.
And finally, you expressed hope that God would speak from the sky. I am reminded of the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus: Luke 16:
27 “He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my family,
28 for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’
29 “Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’
30 “‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’
31 “He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’”
I think the very reason God does not ‘speak from the sky’ or very rarely anyway is for the very reason that you are supposed to doubt and ask questions. That is what He wants of humanity.
It is by questioning and thinking that we grow both as an individual and as a civilisation.
This reality has been created for us to develop in, to doubt, to ask questions, to collaborate, to find answers, to live those answers,to teach and then to go through the process again.
Every time we go through the process we get a little stronger and a little wiser. This is what God wants of all of us.
You might be interested in looking at the Apparitions of Fatima and the Shroud of Turin and the cultural foundations of the Western world laid down by Christianity as a start on breaking the spell that dictates that all religions are equal.
When St. Pio was asked if his stigmata pained him, He answered that they were not given to him as decorations.
Jesus’ suffering was more interested see than any other suffering because He did not take it on except out of obedience to the Father and the infinite love He enjoyed within the Trinity, but from which He had to be excluded during His Passion and death. It’s our human ego that posits the thought 'This isn’t so bad, I just have a little owie and then I get to party forever.
Our suffering for others in following Christ would likewise be worthless if we thought in this fashion.
I’ve had similar doubts. I was absolutely shocked when I started to have them and doubts like this seem to happen each time I make any progress with my faith.
I’ve prayed about it and I believe that my prayers have been answered and that it has brought me closer to Jesus.
I’ve also brought it to confession and I found that right afterwards I started to see things clearer.
Some of the things that have helped me are to appreciate that we may never fully understand the pain that He suffered. I’ve also begun to realise that it was not only physical pain but also emotional pain and how much He must have had to fight against his pain by carrying the cross.
I’ve found that praying the Divine Mercy, the Stations of the Cross and the Rosary also help.
When I get doubts I try to ignore them, but also pray about them.
Thank you all for your sincere replies. I found them very interesting, particularly the history of the Cross, and the base of the word excruciating. Never knew either of these.
I also was not aware the Prophecy required that His bones not be broken, though I’d be surprised if He didn’t suffer broken ribs from the beatings.
I have to say I disagree with this, and always have had trouble with this verse…
31 “He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’”
I truly think they WOULD be convinced otherwise if it goes from hearsay to witness. But that’s my opinion, and who am I to question scripture? It’s just that these types of things often enter into my thoughts.
I think the Cross has two purposes, if you will, along with many soteriological/theological reasons.
Firstly, it was ‘of it’s time’ and therefore highlights the fact and reality of the Incarnation - Jesus came into the world at the time and place when crucifixion WAS the worst, most humiliating and painful way to die. It highlights that the Word was made Flesh at a particular time in our history.
Secondly, perhaps this form of death and degradation has something to do with His total ‘Kenosis’, or ‘self-emptying’. Dying on the Cross was literally self-emptying, as we see when the Lord’s Body is depleted completely of Blood and Water upon death. Not many other forms of punishment have that affect.
When I think of how much Christ suffering then, I think of what Cardinal Newman said about it --at www.newmanreader.org/works/discourses/discourse16.html
When I was a graduate student of literature at the University of Wisconsin, one of the campus priests asked me if I knew of this article by Cardinal Newman since he didn’t know where to find it, and always afterwards after I found it for him, decades ago, I have remembered it.
He mentioned that there were 70,000 to 100,000 people present for the apparition and everyone that he interviewed basically gave the same account.
After interviewing all his witnesses he said that there was a point of realisation where he moved from believing it was true to knowing it was true.
He did mention though that the secular press would not believe. The papers had made fun of the predictions and two major newspapers were there on the day to cover the event. Both wrote about the unbelievable miracle that occurred which ‘took us back to biblical times’.
…In the astonished eyes of these people, whose attitude takes us back to Biblical times, and who, white faced with shock, with their heads uncovered, face the blue sky: the sun has trembled, the sun has made sudden movements that were outside all cosmic laws—the sun has “danced”, according to the typical expression of the country people.
But within a very short period of time the papers had changed back to denying the miracle and making fun of what they themselves had confirmed.
It seems some people will not believe no matter what.
In Haffert’s book he wrote about an atheist doctor whose patient wanted to go to Fatima to pray. The patient was near death and suffered from an incurable disease. The doctor advised that if she went the journey would kill her and that if someone like his patient was healed then he would believe.
Sure enough the patient went and was healed and came back to the doctor’s office. The nurses were dancing around in joy with the former patient while the doctor retreated to his desk in shock. After a long period the doctor gave out a cry of anguish.
John Haffert found that on many occassions people do not take miracles easily. The mind has trouble processing it and people can go into shock and try hard not to accept it because it is out of the experience that one assumes is possible.
Anyway, perhaps God would rather convince us by love than by might?
According to the visions Julian of Norwich, Christ said that if He could have suffered more, that He would have. Julian of Norwich also makes clear that Christ did not say He would have suffered more if He had to, but simply that He would have suffered more. I’m a little perplexed at this, but it may worth pondering.
This is not how I understood the story… in fact the Romans would break the legs to hasten death.
Actually both Psalms and Exodus have a prophesy that Christ’s legs would not be broken. When the Roman Soldiers DID go in John to break Christ’s legs, they found him already dead and used the spear to confirm.
I’ll speak about the pain of crucifixion. It was the worst possible way to die. Here is a little about what the body goes through while on the cross, in fact here is the whole procedure:
The victim is first scourged horribly. The whips have pieces of metal or bone. It would not have been to the extent of the movie Passion of the Christ probably, but that scene did show the trauma the body went through. Not all the wounds were on the surface of the skin. The metal bits I mentioned earlier would bruise the subcontaneous tissue and and cause fluid build up around the heart and lungs, impairing breathing. The condemned would the be handed the cross beam which weighed 60-100 pounds. Now, have you ever been violently ill? Throwing up? You don’t want to move, don’t want anyone to touch you. Now imagine being in a similar physical condition and being made to carry a heavy piece of wood 3000 feet. If you don’t move fast enough you are struck more. A man on horseback precedes you with a little sign announcing your crime as you go, and all that see shun you as one of the most shameful people alive, soon to not be alive. You finally ascend a little hill or where ever they tell you to stop and violently throw you to the ground. You then have two large spikes driven through your wrists. The nails hit a nerve that simultaneously immobilizes your hands, paralyzing them and sends waves of a super heated sensations through your arms and pectoral muscles. You are then lifted bodily by the cross beam, by the wounds in your wrists to a height of about five to six feet as the beam is placed on a a notch in a freestanding post. Your legs are then bent off to one side and your feet are individually nailed either to the side of the cross, a small wooden platform or directly in front. You hang from your wrists, your arms wrists, and hands screaming when you slowly realize that from this position your pectoral muscles are cramping. Soon, you cannot breath in this position. Well not really. You can take in air but your diaphragm is not working properly. You can’t exhale unless you push yourself up so your shoulders are even with your wrists. To do this you must pull yourself and push yourself up by your own wounds. You begin to panic. Getting air becomes more and more difficult with each passing minute. It begins to feel like you have a plastic bag over your head. Sometimes you pass out for a fee minutes and have small seizures as you hang there, until your brain forces you awake so you can get air again. Every time you wake up the pain comes back like lightning. Up and down up and down for what seems like hours and hours. You’ve actually been there maybe a single hour maybe ninety minutes. You co tinue this aptly named “dance of death” until you are either so spent you cannot pull yourself up get anymore air or you suffer from violent heart faiure, or heart attack , possibly while concious.