Have you ever wondered why we call the Friday of Jesus’ Crucifixion Good Friday? Why was Jesus Christ hung from a cross rather than executed differently?
As I understand the scriptures and teachers of the scriptures, God had planned Jesus’ death as the ultimate sacrifice for the sins of all mankind from the beginning of time to the end of time (Acts 2:23; 1 Peter 1:19). I am also of the realization that God was in absolute control of everything that was happening that put Jesus in the hands of the Romans (Mark 10:45).
In God’s plan, the timing was perfect (Galatians 4:4). The Romans were ruling in the Middle East and their method of criminal prosecution was crucifixion. It is what God wanted. He had chosen the Roman world as the stage of redemption and the cross was in His plan. Not only did God fulfill the Old Testament in providing a messiah, savior for the world, but provided the sacrificial lamb in Christ for the redemption of the world’s sins.
“And if a man has committed a sin worthy of death, and he is put to death, and you hang him on a tree, his corpse shall not hang all night on the tree, but you shall surely bury him on the same day (for he who is hanged is accursed of God) ...” (Dt. 21:22-23).
The Romans considered that crucifixion was reserved for rebellious slaves, mutinous troops, vile criminals, and insurrectionists against the state. Roman upper class citizens were normally exempt from crucifixion no matter what their crime. The reason for this was that crucifixion was viewed not just as a means of death, but also as a means of portraying shame. Therefore only the most despicable of criminals were crucified. To be hung on a cross meant more than a crime worthy of death had been committed. It meant that the accused was considered to be a lowly, vile, reprehensible person, in addition to being a criminal.
Considering the fact that crucifixion is, without question, the most humiliating and degrading form of public death ever devised. It was a very slow agonizing painful death. Often it would last for days as the victim died more from suffocation than from bleeding.
As a fulfillment of the scriptures, “He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all — how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:32), and “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” John 3:16.
This is the Good News of the Gospel and why we call and honor the Friday of Jesus Crucifixion “Good Friday.” Good Friday is also when the A.D. time clock began for dating our current world time clock from B.C. (Before Christ) to A.D, (Anno Domini, “Year of our Lord,” also known commonly as, After the Death of our Lord). This time clock is commonly used in dating world history events in the past and scientific research of dating material found from the past. Oddly enough, the 33 years of Jesus’ life on earth are not a part of either the B.C. or A.D. time table.
With that said, there is so much more we can learn about the history of the world back in the day of Christ’s crucifixion and how the cross represents hanging on a tree. The most important thing is that we regard in our hearts as Christians that Jesus Christ, God the Son, freely gave himself as a living sacrifice, the sacrificial lamb to please God the Father for the sin of the world, Christ becoming cursed for all mankind for our sins on the tree. We know from history recordings and eye witnesses who saw Jesus of Nazareth before and after he rose from the grave (Mark 16:9) that Jesus indeed came back to life after three days being dead, fulfilling his own prophesy that he would die and rise again on the third day. He was seen by many from the time of his resurrection from the dead until he was seen going back into the sky 40 days later on Ascension day, as recorded in the bible in Chapter one of Acts.
If Jesus had not died on the cross and risen on the third day, then he would have only been a prophet, and not what people said he was, “The son of God, Savior of the world.”
My old friend, Jimmy C. of Seward, used to say, “The Christians got it right, they win in the end. Read the book and see for yourself.” Jimmy Carlson, also known as Jimmy Sea by all who knew him, is a fishing legend from Seward who went to be with his Lord over a decade ago. He was known by all who knew him for his local evangelistic spirit for Christ and as the skipper of the charter boat, “The Jimmy Sea.”
Mark Conway and his wife Maryna are evangelists living in Sterling. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.