Christ didn’t experience just any death, but a death reserved for those who challenged the oppressive power structures of the time. Jesus’ teachings of liberation threatened Rome. But even more so, they threatened the religious leaders of the day: spiritually abusive leaders who had turned their backs on Judaism’s message of justice and mercy and had twisted the teachings to oppress others.
Jesus stood with the oppressed. He healed on the Sabbath. He advocated for the poor. He spoke out against the abuse of women. And those in power killed him for it. They silenced his message (but it couldn’t quite stay dead, could it?).
Maybe this is the real message of the cross. That the God of all creation loved the oppressed enough to become one with them, even in death–the ultimate tool of oppressive forces.
The cross cannot just mean that we are “saved from sin,” and “going to heaven.” Our speaking about the cross cannot just sound like those cliched platitudes that Christians often tell those who are hurting. The cross that Jesus reclaimed from the Roman Empire has fallen back into the hands of oppressors, becoming a tool of white supremacy, of patriarchy, of heterosexism and transphobia, of the military and prison industrial complex, of those who wage warfare on the poor.
But I want to reclaim it, like Christ did.
If we are to find liberation in the crucifixion, then the cross must stand as a middle finger to oppressive power structures. The cross of Jesus reveals the ugly truth behind oppressive power, and then the cross mocks that power through the resurrection.
This One Bone Is The Only Skeletal Evidence For Crucifixion In The Ancient World
The Romans practiced crucifixion – literally, “fixed to a cross” – for nearly a millennium. It was a public, painful, and slow form of execution, and used as a way to deter future crimes and humiliate the dying person. Since it was done to thousands of people and involved nails, you’d probably assume we have skeletal evidence of crucifixion. But there’s only one, single bony example of Roman crucifixion, and even that is still heavily debated by experts.
Crucifixion seems to have originated in Persia, but the Romans created the practice as we think of it today, employing either a crux immissa (similar to the Christian cross) or a crux commissa (a T-shaped cross) made up of an upright post and a crossbar. Generally, the upright post was erected first, and the victim was tied or nailed to the crossbar and then hoisted up. There was usually an inscription nailed above the victim, noting his particular crime, and sometimes victims got a wooden support to sit or stand on. But Seneca, the Roman philosopher, wrote in 40 AD that the process of crucifying someone varied greatly: Read more.