Claim: Jesus’s death was not unusual.
There are many historical facts surrounding capital punishment in Roman times, but none is more infamous than crucifixion, the method by which Jesus Christ was executed some two thousand years ago. However, with the focus so much so on the brutality of Christ’s death, sometimes we forget that many other people endured the same torture as well.
So what distinguishes Jesus from the hundreds, likely thousands of people that were brutally crucified by Roman rule? It wasn’t that he was just innocent, because Pilate was known for being violent, ruthless and bloodthirsty. In fact, he was removed from office for being too cruel and crucifying too many people. It wasn’t because Jesus called Himself the Messiah, because it wasn’t blasphemous to proclaim yourself as Messiah, and as written by Josephus, there were many false Messiahs. No, the difference between Jesus and everyone else who was wrongfully hung on a cross is that Christ knew why He was dying and how His life/death would change history.
As a Christian, I am often humbled when I reflect on the mystery of the cross. What was He thinking about? He didn’t hate his killers, he pitied them and asked God to forgive them. Did He think of me? Did He see the full picture of salvation laid out in front of Him? Could He feel the full weight of the world’s sin and separation on that cross? I think that the suffering Jesus endured was of a different kind. Sure, many others experienced the same physical torture, but the psychological pain may have been more excruciating. I wonder if He thought it was worth the cost. I mean, I’m sure He did, because He did it and it was out of extreme love and obedience that He followed His Father’s plan. But I wonder if He ever questioned it. I guess what I’m saying is, I wonder if Jesus would still have suffered through everything if my soul was the only soul at stake. And I guess that’s what Christianity is, in fewer words. Believing that He did.