Jesus had been falsely accused of blasphemy, a crime in Israel at the time that warranted death, as it was a sin against God himself. He had gone through an illegal trial held by the leaders of his own people. His followers, his friends had run away leaving him alone.
Israel, at the time could, not put a man to death as they were an occupied nation governed by Rome, and so leaders of the people of Israel took Jesus to Pilate the Roman Governor and demanded that Jesus be killed as her had broken one of their nations laws. Pilate could find no reason to kill Jesus, so he sent him to Herod, The king of Israel, a title that really meant nothing since Rome was in charge, who wanted to see Jesus perform miracles, but Jesus would not say a word. Herod sent Jesus back to Pilate.
Pilate did not want to put Jesus to death. He was frustrated that Jesus would not speak, that Jesus would not defend himself. When Jesus did speak it was to assure Pilate that the God had given Pilate the power to put Jesus to death, that he could not do it on his own. Pilate still wanted to save Jesus life, he sent him to be whipped.
A whipping by the Romans was not a normal whipping. The whip itself was made of several cords. Each cord had several pieces of stone or glass or bone tied into it so when the whip hit the back it would tear in to the flesh exposing both muscle and bone. The Jews had a law that allowed only thirty-nine lashes but Rome had no such law so how many times Jesus body was hit is unknown. What is known is that his back would have been in ribbons when it was done and he would be bleeding profusely the fact that he could stand would be a miracle in itself.
Jesus was hauled to his feet and then the Roman soldiers mocked him. They put a purple cloak on his back and made a crown out of thorns and pushed it on his head. These thorns were not the little thorns that you might see on a rose bush. These thorns were from a different plant and they were long and sharp and would gouge deeply into the head of Jesus.
The soldiers then mocked him again and sent him back to Pilate. Pilate still wanted to release Jesus and he had one more plan. It was Pilate’s custom to release one prisoner during the Jews feast of Passover. Since this was The Passover feast Pilate brought out of his cells Barabbas a murderer and a traitor to Rome. He brought both men in front of the crowd and asked them which one he should release. The crowd screamed for Barabbas. When Pilate asked what should be done with Jesus the crown yelled to crucify him.
Pilate asked what Jesus had done and the crowd yelled back that Jesus had proclaimed himself to be king and they had no king but Caesar. After this Pilates hands were tied. If he let Jesus live it would look like he was betraying Rome. His own life would be forfeit. He called for a bowl of water and told the crowd that he was washing his hands of the blood of Jesus. The crowd responded to let the blood of Jesus be on them and their children. Pilate then sent Jesus to be crucified.
In truth it was almost illegal that Jesus be crucified, but so much of all the events of the last 24 hours had been illegal. Jesus trial had been held in the middle of the night, the witnesses did not agree in their testimony. Jesus had in front of the Sanhedrin, the Jew’s ruling body, declared himself to be the Son of God, after that no witnesses were needed the council had heard for themselves. But Rome did not Whip someone and then crucify the person, one or the other but not both. Many would not even live through the whipping.
Crucifixion was a grisly form of capitol punishment. It was done in public which made it humiliating, and it was a long drawn out death.
Jesus by this time would have lost much blood. The robe that Romans draped over his shoulders would have adhered to his skin with the blood that had dried. The thorns in his forehead had gouged into the skin and they may not have stopped bleeding. In this condition, barely able to stand a beam of wood was put on Jesus shoulders. He was to carry the beam from his place of imprisonment to his place of execution. It was not the whole cross that Jesus carried, It was the beam that his hands would be nailed into. The upright beam was already standing having been used for other executions. This beam would have a notch cut out of it to fit the beam Jesus was carrying.
Jesus could not carry this beam alone. He was too weak. A night with no sleep coupled with a major loss of blood made him stumble until the Romans ordered a man in the crowds to help Jesus with the cross.
When the place of execution was reached, the beam was placed on the ground and the cloak that Romans had put on Jesus shoulders earlier was ripped off of Jesus back causing more pain and more loss of blood. Jesus was forced to lay down with his arms and hands stretched out. Placing a large spike right below the hand, the spike was nailed into the cross beam straight through Jesus flesh. This was then done to the other hand, and then, with a rope and pulley system, Jesus body attached to the cross beam was pulled off the ground with Jesus hanging on it until it was placed into the notch of the upright beam.
It was now time for another spike. Placing Jesus feet one on top of the other with Jesus knees slightly bent the spike was driven into the wood through the feet of Jesus. Two other men were also crucified with Jesus one on each side.
This would be the worst part of the death. With Jesus hanging the way that he was it was difficult to breathe. In order to take a simple breath Jesus would have to straighten his body out by pushing on his feet. This made shock waves of pain shoot through his body. Slowly the ability to do this would become harder and harder until Jesus could no longer raise himself up. He would then suffocate to death.
It was three o’clock when Jesus died. He pushed himself up for the last time and said “It is finished.” By saying this Jesus was proclaiming that everything he had come to do had been accomplished, the last thing being his death.
Clouds had gathered and it became as dark as night when Jesus died. The Curtain made from a heavy corded material that hid the place where God dwelt in the Jewish temple, was ripped in two and the dead came out of their graves.
After a certain amount of time it was the custom to break the legs of those being crucified to hasten death. The two other that had been crucified with Jesus had their legs broken, but seeing that Jesus was already dead the soldiers made doubly sure and took a spear and thrust it into Jesus side. Blood and water flowed out.
Joseph of Arimathea went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus to be given to him. He had been a secret follower of Jesus. Pilate checked to be sure that Jesus had died and granted permission for Joseph to take the body. Joseph took the body and laid it in his own tomb, a cave cut out of rock. He wrapped the body in linen with spices as was the custom and then rolled a large stone in front of the tomb making it impossible for anyone to get in.
The leaders of the Jewish People however remembered that Jesus had said that he would rise again on the third day after his death. So they went to Pilate and demanded that a Roman guard be posted at the tomb so his followers could not steal the body and declare that Jesus had risen. Pilate ordered that the tomb be guarded. Jesus was dead. But the story is not over.