The Crucifixion of Jesus Christ

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"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." This verse - John 3:16 - is perhaps the most important in the Bible. Jesus Christ was the son of God, but he was also the son of man.
Jesus had a human mother, Mary (see Luke 1:30-31 for example), but his father was God (see John 3:18 for example). Jesus was human, not God. Consider 1 Timothy 2:5:"For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;" There could not be a clearer statement that Christ was a man.
Because Christ was human he experienced all the trials and temptations that we experience. Christ, however was strong enough to resist all temptation and lived a life without sinning - that is without disobeying God."[Jesus Christ] was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin." (Hebrews 4:15). Christ was "obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.". (Philippians 2:8)
"Sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death." (James 1:15), or as Paul puts it in Romans 6:23 " the wages of sin is death". Christ never sinned, and therefore did not earn the wages of sin. Therefore God raised him from the dead "having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it." (Acts 2:24). The full story of Christ's death and resurrection can be found in Matthew 27 & 28, Mark 15 & 16, Luke 23 & 24, and John 18 - 21.
After his resurrection Christ spent some time with his disciples. Then he ascended into heaven. He will one day return from heaven to rule on earth as King.


The Crucifixion
Jesus Christ lived a sinless life even up to his death by crucifixion. Far from being a way of appeasing a wrathful God for the sins of Mankind the Crucifixion is really an example of God's love toward us. Consider Romans 5:8 "But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.". At first this seems slightly strange: how was God's love manifested towards us through the Crucifixion?
Through his death Christ gained forgiveness of sins for all who follow him (see "baptism"). Titus 3:13,14 says "our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity".

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Redemption is what Christ achieved by his death. It was sending his son to die this way for the benefit of mankind that God's love is manifested through the crucifixion.
(Could there not have been some way of avoiding the Crucifixion? The answer is no: in the Garden of Gethsemane, on the night before his crucifixion, Christ prayed "if it be possible, let this [suffering] pass from me" (Matthew 26:39). The suffering did not pass from Christ, therefore it was not possible that it could. Christ's death was indispensable, and invaluable.)


The Crucifixion of Jesus Christ by Merrill C. Oaks
Crucifixion was the form of execution suffered by Jesus Christ on Calvary as the necessary conclusion to his voluntary infinite atoning sacrifice begun in Gethsemane (see Atonement). Many people supported and followed Jesus, but a small group of influential Judaean leaders, who disagreed with his doctrines and felt threatened by his popularity, succeeded in having the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate, condemn him to death.
LDS scriptures give prophetic witness that crucifixion would be the method of the Savior's death (e.g., 1 Ne. 19:10-13; 2 Ne. 10:3-5; Mosiah 3:9; 15:7; Moses 7:55). Israelites did not crucify. They did hang executed bodies ignominiously "on a tree" for part of a day (Deut. 21:22-23; cf. Acts 5:30), but for crucifixion it was necessary to invoke Roman law and practice.
Crucifixion was a form of execution probably begun by the Persians and used in Egypt and Carthage. The Romans perfected it as a torture designed to produce maximum pain and a slow death. Reserved for the vilest of criminals and rarely administered to Roman citizens, crucifixion was customarily preceded by flogging the back, buttocks, and legs with a short whip consisting of leather thongs with small iron balls or sharp pieces of sheep bone attached. The weakened victim was then made to carry at least a portion of the cross to the site of crucifixion. Romans commonly used large nails to fix the wrists and palms to the cross bar and the feet to the vertical portion of the cross. The nails inflicted terrible pain but caused no immediate life-threatening injury. A person could live in agony for hours or even days. The body's position made breathing difficult since hanging by the arms kept the chest expanded so that exhaling required the active use of the diaphragm. If the sufferer pushed with his feet, he elevated his body, placing the chest in a more natural position and making it easier to breathe. Soldiers sometimes hastened death by breaking the legs of the victim, making it almost impossible to push the body high enough to breathe.

After Jesus had hung on the cross for several hours, he forgave the soldiers who had crucified him (Luke 23:34; JST Luke 23:35) and voluntarily gave up his life (cf. John 10:18), commending his spirit into his Father's hands. The Romans broke the legs of the two who were crucified with Jesus, but believing that he was already dead, they merely thrust a spear into his side (John 19:33-34).
(See The Ancient Practice of Crucifixion by Dr. Richard Lloyd Anderson; The Cross; Basic Beliefs home page; Teachings About Jesus Christ home page; The Atonement of Jesus Christ home page)



Bibliography

Edwards, William D.; Wesley J. Gabel; and Floyd E. Hosmer. "On the Physical Death of Jesus Christ." Journal of the American Medical Association, 255 (1986):1455-63.

Hengel, Martin. Crucifixion. Philadelphia, 1977.

The Crucifixion of Jesus Christ by Merrill C. Oaks
http://www.lightplanet.com/mormons/basic/christ/crucifixion.html


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