I've always had a problem with some of the "traditions" attached to Lent. I've never quite been down with the whole "giving something up" thing. Nor, am I totally cool with the "no hallelujah" thing either. It seems to me that if there is any time of the year we SHOULD be singing Hallelujahs is now. I mean, come on, some guy who I don't know, and I've never met, took my place and let himself be NAILED to a piece of wood so that he could die, be buried in a tomb and then three days later be raised from the dead. Yeah, lets talk about that for a minute shall we? Can I get a "whoa, buddy" out there somewhere. I can't even begin to wrap my brain around that; its all about the faith, then, huh?
Let's talk about that crucifiction, shall we? I think its important to note that the word "excruciating" is an indication of the pain, why? That word was coined to describe the pain one experienced. It means, literally, "from the cross." Spikes were nailed just below the wrist. To us today, that is part of the arm, but to the Hebrews the hand went from the elbow to the tips of the fingers.The reason for that was simple: if they put the spike through the hand the muscles would rip and the victim would fall off the cross. The wrist bones were strong enough for the weight of a body. I have seen pictures of a body of a crucifiction victim that was found during an archioligical dig. The nails/spikes were still intact and by the wrist bone.
The scurging Jesus recieved from the Romans would of caused him to lose a lot of blood to begin with along with pieces of flesh and muscle. It wasn't unusual for bone to be exposed after such a scurging. No wonder Roman citizens weren't allowed to be flogged.
The heavy purple robe they put on Jesus would of been sucked into the wounds like a bandaid... when they ripped it off of him as it says in the Scriptures it would of been like ripping off a huge scab. You know how much it hurts when you take a bandage off a cut finger or knee... I can't even begin to imagine how gory this whole process was, I don't want to, though, Mel Gibson did the best he could with his snuff film a few years ago.
Jesus probably, though I don't know for sure, died from blood loss, exhaustion, with some dehydration thrown in for good measure. Most of those who died on the cross didn't die so much from the blood loss, but from the suffication. They legs would buckle (or be broken) and they wouldn't be able to stand up and the dead weight of their body would press down on to their chest cavity, they wouldn't be able to lift themselves and their lungs would be unable to get any air. In short, the victim wouldn't be able to breathe. I have read that some victims of crucifiction would lanquish for days. That's why the criminals legs were broken, to speed up the process. That was a gift.
Generally, victims of crucifiction were left on their cross after death to be picked over by vermin and birds. That was one of the reasons why crucifiction was done outside of the city walls, another reason was to kind of serve as notice to those coming into the city that should do the best they could to behave themselves. Call it a graphic warning of "this, too, could happen to you..."
Today, in church the Old Testement lesson came from Numbers 21 (Moses makes a bronze snake and any one who looks at it was healed from snake bites) and the New Testement lesson came from John 3:14-21. I have read those before and made the connection, but what struck me today was John 3:14 "Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up." As a former English major I see symbolism in that, in one way you can read it as being lifted up to heaven, but in another its being lifted up after being nailed to the cross and being put on display. That is what got me. Jesus was put on display for a reason, to be mocked, but it was through that display that something much more important and fascinating happened. As I look at that broken, bloodied body that was nailed to wood I am healed and strengthened. My sin is taken from me and put on Him. I, a guilty man, am made innocent through the blood of an innocent man.
Explain to me again why I shouldn't be singing Hallelujah's during Lent?