Last night on the History Channel, I watched a program called “Crucifixion” which went into a lot of the gory details about what happened during the pre-crucifixion scourging and during the actual crucifixion. It went into all of the medical details about what would have happened to Jesus. It also went into the history of crucifixion, where it originated from and whatnot. A lot of that information, I already knew from my apologetics studies, but it was a good program. It was hard to watch, but it was informative. Anyone who wants to know what Jesus went through to gain their salvation should watch that program. Jesus suffered HELL so that we wouldn’t have to. He endured the torment that we were supposed to endure, so that we wouldn’t have to endure it.
But it occurred to me that crucifixion was the most diabolical, inhumane way of capital punishment ever invented. It originated in the minds of depraved men as a way of discouraging the populace from rising up and ending their oppression. In other words, one of the reasons Romans crucified someone was to make an example out of them, to say “This is what will happen to you if you defy us”. And yet, crucifixion is the means that God used to bring about our salvation. The reason Jesus died the way He did was to suffer under the wrath of God, to avert divine punishment away from us.
This is a perfect, biblical example of God using something that human beings crafted for evil, and turning it around to bring about a greater good from it. We’re told this in scripture. In Jeremiah 29:11, God says “For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, to give you hope and a future”. In Romans 8:28, the apostle Paul writes “We know that God works all things for the good of those who love Him.” In Genesis 50:20, Joseph said to his brothers “You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people.” God allows bad things to happen because He knows that a chain of events will follow from those events that will eventually culminate in something good.
In this case, we have a clear example of that. In God’s providence, He actualized a world where He knew that people would invent crucifixion. God planned on using this barbaric practice to inflict His wrath upon Himself (the second person of the trinity) so that He could avert His wrath from the human race. God allowed something evil (i.e crucifixion) to bring about something good (i.e the salvation of wicked sinners). He allowed suffering (Jesus’ suffering) to bring about a greater good (our salvation). Often times when God allows something unpleasant to happen to a good person, we have no idea why God permitted it to occur. From our perspective, it seems pointless and unnecessary to us. But God has promised us in His word that He will not allow pain unless something new can be born from it (Isaiah 66:9) and that He works all things for good (Romans 8:28). In the case of Jesus’ crucifixion, we can see very clearly how He worked this evil form of capital punishment for our good. But most of the time, we have no idea why something is happening. That’s where faith comes in. We have to have faith that God is not apathetic to our trials, that He truly does care about us and has a good reason for allowing us to go through what we go through. Proverbs 3:5 says “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” God is omniscient, we are not. He sees the end of history from the beginning, we do not. Have faith in God. Have faith that what human beings are using for evil, God is permitting them to do it for good.
In fact, while Jesus was being crucified, no one knew why it was happening to Him. It was only later after Jesus had risen from the dead and instructed the disciples for 40 days did they realize why that had to happen.