God could have ended Jesus’ life any number of ways rather than crucifixion (If you exclude the OT prophesies). So why did Jesus have to die such a horribly cruel death. I think I might have an idea why…
“The Passion of Christ” portrayed the violence of the cross is stomach turning. It’s difficult to watch and there were times I had to turn my eyes away… specially during the whipping scene. But there was a reason for the violence.
We are visual people. God intended Jesus’ torture to be seen because it was the best way to communicate a little of what God was doing to him spiritually. As horrible as the physical sufferings were, they were a shadow of what was happening in the cosmic realm.
The physical sufferings Christ endured prior to and on the cross were intended to represent what Jesus’ real sufferings was… God’s wrath against sin. On the cross God pulverized Jesus into dust…
Picture as best you can what the physical and emotional sufferings of Christ were during the last day of life (Exclude the spiritual suffering for now). They are, all put together, a cakewalk compared to the real sufferings of Jesus!
Betrayed by a friend… (Mark 14:43-46). Abandonded… (Mark 14:50). Denied three times by a close friend… (Matthew 26:69-75). Attacked by his own people… (Mark 15:13-14). Spit on… (Mark 14:65). Beaten beyond recognition… (Isaiah 52:14). His beard pulled out by the roots… (Isaiah 50:6). Whipped… (John 19:1). Mocked… (Mark 15:20). Crown of thorns placed on his head… (Mark 15:17). Nails driven through his wrists and ankles… (John 20:25-27). Nailed to a cross for six hours… (Matthew 27:45). Suffered extreme thirst… (John 19:28-30). That is not just punishment… it is torturous murder.
After all that, Jesus was a broken mess of torn bleeding flesh. It was a horribly ugly picture. But all those together didn’t come close to matching the real suffering of being punished by God as if He committed every sin of everyone who would believe!
When Jesus was on the cross, He didn’t say… “I can’t stand the pain!” or “My back and head hurt!” or “This crown is excruciating!” No… what He said pointed to the real pain… “My God, My God! Why have you forsaken me?!”
The physical sufferings of Christ were a small glimpse of the real punishment inflicted upon Jesus on the cross. The physical sufferings did not bring salvation! It was the cosmic suffering that the physical suffering pictured that brought salvation to all who will believe!