I was watching a video on YouTube of a song I like and some of the photos in the video are of the Crucifixion. I’m guessing they come from a movie but they don’t sugar-coat, they really portray the horror of crucifixion. I used to dislike these kinds of images, they made me uncomfortable. I didn’t like the bloody reality of it all. I’ve come to realise that we have to recognise those realities that make us uncomfortable. So often we talk about the sufferings of Christ as if they are stories. I know I’ve done this. We think about them but we don’t let the realities sink in. The realities of the sufferings Christ endured for us are more than we can possibly imagine, but we so often take them for granted. Every Sunday at Mass we proclaim either the Nicene Creed or the Apostles Creed. We don’t just proclaim that Christ died. In the Nicene Creed we proclaim He suffered death, in the Apostles Creed we proclaim that He suffered under Pontius Pilate. His death was one of great pain and suffering.
The human body, unsurprisingly, does not like pain. We instinctively take ourselves out of the way of pain – think if you’ve ever accidentally put your hand under a boiling tap or touched a hot pan. Before you even consciously recognise that you’re in pain you’re body has reacted and pulled away from the source of the pain. It takes an incredible amount of strength of will to consciously allow yourself to take on as much pain as Christ endured. The reality of the pain He endured is not really a pleasant thought. To think of anyone suffering like that, much less the Son of God Himself, is quite terrible.
Crucifixion was a particularly painful way to die. A person could take hours or sometimes even days to die. Though there were many things that could eventually cause death (blood loss, dehydration, and sepsis to name a few) the most common was probably asphyxia. If you’ve ever gone swimming you’ve probably tried to see how long you can hold your breath underwater for. It’s uncomfortable, right? Imagine that multiplied and then for hours, plus all the pain from the wounds in His hands and feet, the exhaustion from carrying the cross, the raw wounds from His scouring. It must have been agonising. I can’t even begin to fathom that kind of pain and suffering. He could have come down from the cross, He had that power, but He didn’t use it. He laid down His life willingly and endured all that pain and suffering.
He endured it out of love. He endured it for you.