All He endured for the Elect
John 15:13, "Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends" (NASB). The KJV says, "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends."
It brings me to tears reading what He suffered so that we could be forgiven......A cross is placed on the ground. The one being crucified is thrown backwards with his shoulders against the wood. His wrists are felt for depressions at the front of the wrists. A heavy square wrought-iron nail is driven through the wrist and deep into the wood. It is repeated on the other wirst, being careful not to pull the arms too tightly, but to allow flexibility and movement. The patibulum is then lifted in place at the top of the stipes and the titulus reading Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews is nailed in place.
The left foot is pressed backward against the right foot, and with both feet extended, toes down, a nail is driven through the arch of each, leaving the knees moderately flexed. The victim is now crucified. As Heslowly sags down with more weight on the nails in the wrists, excruciating, fiery pain shoots along the fingers and up the arms to explode in the brain - the nails in the wrists are putting pressure on themedian nerves. As He pushes Himself upward to avoid this wrenching torment, He places His full weight on the nail through His feet. Again there is the searing agony of the the tearing through the nerves between the metatarsal bones of the feet.At this point, another phenomenon occurs. As the arms fatigue, greatwaves of cramps sweep over the muscles, knotting them in deep, relentless,throbbing pain. With these cramps comes the inability to push Himselfupward. Hanging by His arms, the pectoral muscles are paralyzed and theintercostal muscles are unable to act. Air can be drawn into the lungs,but cannot be exhaled. Jesus fights to raise Himself in order to get evenone short breath. Finally carbon dioxide builds up in the lungs and inthe blood stream and the cramps partially subside. Spasmodically, He isable to push Himself upward to exhale and bring in the life-giving oxygen.
It was undoubtedly during these periods that He uttered the seven shortsentences which are recorded:The first, looking down at the Roman soldiers throwing dice for Hisseamless garment, Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.
The second, to the penitent thief, Today thou shalt be with me inParadise.The fourth cry is from the beginning of the 22nd Psalm, My God, my God,why hast thou forsaken me?Hours of this limitless pain, cycles of twisting joint- rending cramps,intermittent partial asphyxiation, searing pain as tissue is torn from Hislacerated back as He moves up and down against the rough timber. Thenanother agony begins. A deep crushing pain deep in the chest as thepericardium slowly fills with serum and begins to compress the heart.Let us remember again the 22nd Psalm (the 14th verse), I am poured outlike water, and all my bones are out of joint; my heart is like wax, it ismelted in the midst of my bowels. It is now almost over - the loss oftissue fluids has reached a critical level - the compressed heart isstruggling to pump heavy, thick, sluggish blood into the tissue - thetortured lungs are making a frantic effort to draw in small gulps of air.The markedly dehydrated tissues send their flood of stimuli to the brain.Jesus gasps His fifth cry, I thirst.Lut us remember another verse from the prophetic 22nd Psalm: My strengthis dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and thouhas brought me into the dust of death.A sponge soaked in Posca, the cheap, sour wine which is the staple drinkof the Roman legionnaires, is lifted to His lips. He apparently does nottake any of the liquid. The body of Jesus is now in extremis and He canfeel the chill of death creeping through His tissues. This realizationbrings out His sixth words - possibly little more than a tortured whisper.It is finished.His mission of atonement has been completed. Finally He can allow hisbody to die.With one last surge of strength, he once again presses His torn feetagainst the nail, straightens His legs, takes a deeper breath, and uttersHis seventh and last cry, Father into thy hands I commit my spirit.