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Crucifixion of Jesus Christ
Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints firmly believe that Jesus Christ lived and continues to live. They also believe in the Atonement, Crucifixion, and Resurrection of Christ that have enabled men to repent of their sins and also be resurrected.
Crucifixion, common during the time period of the New Testament, was one of the most cruel forms of execution used by the Romans. The person being crucified was usually whipped or scourged first. The person was then forced to carry his cross to the execution site. The clothing of the person was most often taken by the soldiers who would execute him. The person’s hands and feet were then tied or nailed to the cross. The cross was then driven into the ground so that the person’s feet were only one or two feet above the ground. This type of execution could take as long as three days, and sometimes the guards would break the legs of the prisoner to speed up the process. People hung on a cross usually died of asphyxia.
Christ’s imprisonment and crucifixion was in nearly every way illegal. Christ was arrested at night, his trial with the Sanhedrin did not include all of its members and was not conducted in its proper place. The court was held before morning sacrifice and on a holy day, which was also illegal. When the voice of the people asked that Christ be crucified he had already been beaten, humiliated and whipped (See LDS Bible Dictionary). President Spencer W. Kimball said of this,
- In quiet, restrained, divine dignity he stood when they cast their spittle in his face. He remained composed. Not an angry word escaped his lips. They slapped his face and beat his body. Yet he stood resolute, unintimidated (“Jesus of Nazareth,” Ensign, Dec. 1980, pp. 6–8).
He was then made to carry the cross. He was weak and could not carry it, so Simon of Cyrenia carried it for him. Spencer W. Kimball further explained what happened:
- The nails are hammered into his hands and feet, through soft and quivering flesh. The agony increases. The cross is dropped in the hole; the flesh tears. What excruciating pain! Then new nails are placed in the wrist to make sure that the body will not fall to the ground and recover.
- And so the taunt came again: “He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him” (Matthew 27:42). What a temptation it must have been for the Lord who could have stepped down whole and well without scars or bruises! What a challenge it must have been, yet he had set his mind and had sweat great drops of blood in his anguish as he faced his mission—to move forward through all gross indignities and meet death at the end, to bring life to these very men and their children, if they would heed (Ibid.).
Even in agony Christ said, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). Christ gave up the ghost having remained perfect and fulfilling his mission. Christ’s crucifixion was an essential part of His mission. In John 10:17-18 Christ said to Pilate:
- I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again.
Christ freely giving of his life was essential to saving us all from death.