Who were these men who crucified Jesus? Many soldiers are mentioned in the Passion stolry who carried out the job of execution. It was their duty to do so. These soldiers had worked their way up through the ranks, exhibited great courage in battle, undoubtedly saw much bloodshed and were immune to the pain they were inflicting on another person. It was just a job.
I can’t imagine the scene. The smitten Savior – His body already bruised by rocks thrown at Him – His already spilled blood, coagulating as flies lit upon His festering wounds – The agony of the scourge had cut through His flesh and still He was brutally laid upon that rough hewn, wooden cross with no regard to the pain He felt. His eyes were swollen from the beating. Tears welled up as the long iron spikes were driven through His hands and feet. I wonder if His eyes every met those of His executioners. Then the cross was raised to the upright position and dropped in place, unnerving an already tormented body.
There were probably more than a few to carry out this job. One soldier for each nail. One would hold the body still as it writhed in pain – most likely having to sit on Him to accomplish this. One or more would be placing a thorn of crowns on His head while anther placed the placard which read, “Jesus of Nazareth – King of the Jews.” What a pathetic sight.
How did these men feel – if they felt at all? They were simply following orders. It was something they had become used to. From then on, they would mock Jesus, offer Him sour wine, cast lots for His clothing and look at Him as just another criminal. Still I wonder if any of them were affected by Him in one way or another.
Who crucified Jesus? Were they just men following orders? Were they all part of a greater plan, instrumented by God for the salvation of the world? When you put it all in perspective, WE are all responsible for Jesus’ death. It was OUR sin that caused Him to be tortured. It was OUR iniquities that required a priceless ransom. It was OUR damned souls that would accept nothing less than an unblemished sacrifice – the Lamb of God. Since Jesus is God, this is how He shows His unconditional love for the world.
Yes, we crucified Jesus as much as those soldiers did. Now let’s thank Him with grateful hearts for giving us the victory over death.