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Communion 2009

Cruel and Unusual

Originally scheduled for February 22

The courts of the United States are sometimes called upon to rule on the legality of some form of the death penalty. The Constitution prohibits “cruel and unusual punishment.” If our Supreme Court could be transplanted to the time of the Roman Empire, what would they make of Crucifixion?


It is certainly cruel. For example, in Christ’s case, we have:

·         The constant mockery, including the crown of thorns.

·         The severe flogging – often sufficient to cause death itself.

·         Carrying the cross – again, public mockery combined with the exhaustion weakening the body.

·         The victim was nailed to the cross.

·         When the cross was stood upright, the victim was left to die an agonizing death. It was considered merciful to smash the legs of the victim to hasten death.


It would seem that the qualifications for cruelty would have been fully met. Interestingly, the qualification of being unusual would not have been satisfied – crucifixion was a common form of execution. Indeed, millions of Christians died on a cross during these times. Some of these were even soaked in tar before being crucified, then nailed to the cross. Later, after much agony, they would be set alight as night fell – to serve as street lights.


It is unlikely that you and I will die such a death. Indeed, death in our times is usually a rather sanitary procedure in a hospital, comforted by pain killers. All the more reason, then, that we are given Communion as a reminder of the horrible death Christ suffered – for us.


That’s right; he died for us. His purpose in coming was to provide the atonement for our sins. It is fitting that we should remember his death, for it gave us our life. Think on this as you partake.

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