Who was Crucified
The man they called Jesus of Nazareth was crucified on a Roman cross around the year 33. The Roman cross was reserved for those people who publicly tried to subvert the Roman Empire. These criminals of the state were called insurrectionists. Thousands of people were crucified by the Roman Empire around the time of Jesus. This tool of death was meant to be a public humiliation as a deterrent against anyone else thinking that they wanted to try to overthrow the government.
The cross was a two part invention of death. The vertical timber was put into a hole in the earth and received a horizontal beam that was carried through the city by the one sentenced. I picture it as a lonely parade through the streets filled with people who mocked and threw things at you, while you walked naked, caring your own instrument of death to it final resting place. Jesus was beaten with whips to carry out a sentence of 39 lashes. A sentence of 40 lashes simply meant to be whipped to death, so 39 must have meant to be almost whipped to death. Jesus was so weak from this that he could not cary his own horizontal beam.
Nails were hammered into the feet and hands to secure you to the cross. This allowed you to painfully push upward enough to catch your breath and prolong the painful death process. Eventually someone would come along and break your legs and you could no longer push yourself up and would die of suffocation. Usually people were left on the cross as a reminder to everyone of what happens to those who oppose the Empire. A rich man named, Joseph of Arimathea, paid to have Jesus’ body removed from the cross and be buried in a tomb. I can’t imagine the kind of horror that this crucifixion imposed.
SHINY GOLD CROSSES
Sometimes I see, shiny gold crosses and wonder what it is that they represent. Definitely not this. The first Christians may have worn a cross as a symbol of defiance to show that they too were ready to die for their belief in Jesus. When Christianity became the official symbol of the Holy Roman Empire, three hundred years after Jesus’ death, it became a symbol of power. It adorned the weapons of destruction used by soldiers in combat to strike fear in their enemy’s. Flags with crosses marched out front and death and destruction followed closely behind.
I imagine that the reason people wear crosses today has little to do with the death and destruction it has symbolized in the past. For some, it is a statement of faith or fashion. For some, it is a way of announcing their tribe. For some, it symbolizes the gift they received through the death of Jesus. The reason I wear one is to remind myself that violence is not the answer and that power is not stronger than Love.