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  • Brad Zimanek

Allow your heart to ache for what Christ did for you

Updated: Apr 10, 2020

Matthew 27: 32-56 – The Crucifixion of Jesus


“As they were going out, they met a man from Cyrene, named Simon, and they forced him to carry the cross. They came to a place called Golgotha (which means “the place of the skull”).


“There they offered Jesus wine to drink, mixed with gall; but after tasting it, he refused to drink it. When they had crucified him, they divided up his clothes by casting lots. And sitting down, they kept watch over him there. Above his head they placed the written charge against him: this is jesus, the king of the jews.


“Two rebels were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left. Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, “You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!” In the same way the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders mocked him.


“He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! He’s the king of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. He trusts in God. Let God rescue him now if he wants him, for he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’ ” In the same way the rebels who were crucified with him also heaped insults on him.


The Death of Jesus


“From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over all the land. About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).


When some of those standing there heard this, they said, “He’s calling Elijah.”


“Immediately one of them ran and got a sponge. He filled it with wine vinegar, put it on a staff, and offered it to Jesus to drink. The rest said, “Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to save him.”


And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit.


“At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split, and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. They came out of the tombs after Jesus’ resurrection and went into the holy city and appeared to many people.


“When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, “Surely he was the Son of God!”


“Many women were there, watching from a distance. They had followed Jesus from Galilee to care for his needs. Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of Zebedee’s sons.”


Editor’s note: This is part six of a Journey to the Cross devotion from April 5 on Palm Sunday through April 12 on Easter. It includes a scripture reading from the gospels as we walk with Jesus. Please join me each morning when a new devotion is posted.

Journey to the Cross – No. 6 – April 10, 2020


No movie ever affected me like the Passion of the Christ.


The movie, co-written and produced by Mel Gibson with Jim Caviezel starring as Jesus, was released in 2004. It graphically portrayed Christ’s death and crucifixion.

Words can’t describe my horrified reaction walking out of the theater.


We were living in Wisconsin at the time and attended the movie as a church group.


Someone who attended the movie with us said: “I need to see that again.” I never understood that statement. I walked away.


I knew I wouldn’t be watching it again. Once was enough for a lifetime.


The despair in the pit of my stomach was unlike anything I’ve ever felt.


A Facebook meme shows Gibson sitting in a director’s chair next to the bloodied body with thorns on the head Caviezel with the words: “This is what it looks like when I complain to Jesus how hard my life is …”


Do you really grasp what Jesus Christ went through for you?


Lee Strobel, a former atheist, was determined to find out.


As an investigative reporter for The Chicago Tribune, Strobel set out to disprove the story of Jesus Christ found in the Bible.


His motive was simple. His wife discovered her faith and he wanted his old wife back. Not one who would put God in the forefront of every aspect of her life.


Strobel, in his 1998 book “The Case for Christ,” interviews 13 evangelical Christian scholars, who defend their views for the reliability of the story of Jesus told in the Bible.


My favorite interview is with Dr. Alexander Metherell, who was recommended to Strobel because he possessed both the medical and scientific credentials to explain the crucifixion in chilling detail.


Strobel and Metherell begins with a basic description of the events leading up to Jesus' death beginning at the Garden of Gethsemane.


Strobel mentions the gospel account in Luke 22:44 where Jesus began to sweat blood. Strobel believed that was far-fetched.


Metherell says it’s a medical condition called hematidrosis associated with a high degree of stress and anxiety where chemicals break down the capillaries in the sweat glands producing small amounts of blood.

Metherell says this condition would also set up the skin to be extremely fragile and very, very sensitive heading into the floggings the next day.


Metherell began to describe the floggings, usually 39 lashes, where a soldier would use a whip of braided leather thongs with metal balls woven into them. The whip, striking the flesh, would open huge bruises and contusions that would break open with further blows.

He says the back would be so shredded parts of the spine would be exposed. The whipping would go from shoulder to the buttocks, and the back of the legs.


A physician that studied Roman beatings said the lacerations would tear into underlying skeletal muscles and produce quivering ribbons of bleeding flesh. Eusebius, a third-century historian, said veins were laid bare and muscles and bowels were open to exposure.


At this point, Metherell says many people would die from hypovolemic shock which does four things: the heart races to pump blood that isn’t there; blood pressure drops causing fainting or collapse; kidneys stop producing urine; and the body craves fluids to replace the lost blood.


And, that’s all prior to Jesus going to the cross.


Once, Jesus would have arrived at the crucifixion site, Metherell says his hands, through the wrists, would have been nailed in the outstretched position to the horizontal beam. If the nails were driven into his palms, his weight would have caused him to fall from the cross.


Metherell points out the nails would go through the median nerve. To describe the pain it would produce, he asked Strobel if he knew what it feels like when you hit your funny bone, which is the ulna nerve. If you accidentally hit it, it’s extremely painful.


According to Metherell, the nail through the median nerve, would be like taking a pair of pliers and twisting that nerve. To describe that type of pain they had to invent the word excruciating, which means out of the cross. There was no other way to describe this intense anguish.


The nails through the feet produce the same type of pain. While hanging on the cross, his arms would immediately be stretched six inches in length and both shoulders would have been dislocated.


Metherell says the cause of death would be agonizingly slow death by asphyxiation. In order to exhale, the person must push up on his feet so the tension would be eased for a moment, but the nail would tear through the foot. This back-and-forth would take place with every breath until the person being crucified suffered total exhaustion.


The person simply can’t breathe any more.


After learning the “how” Jesus died beyond a reasonable shadow of doubt, Strobel asked Metherell the “why” question from the heart.


His response brings me to my knees every time I read it.


“Frankly, I don’t think a typical person could have done it,” Metherell said. “But Jesus knew what was coming, and he was willing to go through it, because this was the only way he could redeem us – by serving as our substitute and paying the death penalty that we deserve because of our rebellion again God. That was his whole mission in coming to earth.


“So when you ask what motivated him,” he concluded, “well, I suppose the answer could be summed up in one word – and that would be love.”


When Jesus gave up His spirit on the cross, the earth shook – which is the past tense of the verb shake but also means as an adjective emotionally disturbed or upset ... the very earth was upset.

Tombs opened and the bodies of many who were dead were raised. Then, the centurion who was guarding Jesus, and those who were with him were terrified, and he exclaimed: “Surely, he was the Son of God!”


The anguish … the beatings, the whippings, the thorns on His head, the carrying of the cross, the nails driven into His wrists and feet, the painful adjustment of his body on the cross simply for one breath of air.


All for you … all for me …


This day I pray you set aside noon to 3 p.m., to contemplate it.


Not a passing thought. But deep down, gut-wrenching pit of despair assimilation of the man that gave His life in a horrendous fashion for your sins and mine … the weight of humanity on His broken shoulders.


I believe if more people did, they would turn their lives over to Jesus.


Brad Zimanek is the Associate Pastor at Mulder Church in Wetumpka, Alabama. He worked in sports journalism for 32 years prior to answering the call to full-time ministry.

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