ne of the most brutal and dominant empires in the history of mankind is the Roman Empire. The Easter season was inaugurated during the occupation of the nation of Israel by the Roman forces. A superpower’s major interest is to make her enemies aware of their lethal and ruthless power to quash dissent with devastating power.
At the height of their powers, one of the tools they used to enforce their authority over conquered enemies was fear. This fear was given wings through a brutal public demonstration of death. Therefore the Romans sought the most brutal way to put off dissent, and they found it and perfected it to the core!
Crucifixion predates the Romans by several hundred years. According to the late Jim Bishop, an American journalist, the inventors of crucifixion wanted a method to inflict the maximum amount of pain on a victim before death. In his book, The Day Christ Died, he says:
They had tried death by spear, by boiling in oil, impalement, stoning, strangulation, drowning, burning—and all had been found to be too quick. They wanted a means of punishing criminals slowly and inexorably, so man devised the cross. It was almost ideal, because in its original form it was as slow as it was painful…and the condemned at the same time were placed fairly before the gaze of the people.
A secondary consideration was nudity. This added to the same of the evildoer and, at the same time, made him helpless before the thousands of insects in the air…
The Romans adopted the cross as a means of deterring crime, and they had faith in it. In time they reduced it to an exact science with a set of rules to be followed.
It just so happened that a certain Jesus of Nazareth was alive at that historical era. Having ruffled feathers with the ‘political and religious’ clique of his time, he was sentenced to death. The only power that had the authority to grant a death sentence at that time was the Roman Empire…and they did it after some persuasion from the enemies of Jesus of Nazareth.
First, let us revisit what happened to Jesus of Nazareth in the hands of the then superpower of the world. All credit goes to Jim Bishop
The executioner laid the crossbeam behind Jesus and brought him to the ground quickly by grasping his arm and pulling him backward. And soon as Jesus fell, the beam was fitted under the back of his neck and, on each side, soldiers quickly knelt on the inside of the elbows…
Once begun, the matter was done quickly and efficiently. The executioner wore an apron with pockets. He placed two five inch nails between his teeth and, hammer in hand, knelt beside the right arm. The solider whose knee rested on the inside of the elbow held the forearm flat to the board. With his right hand the executioner probed the wrist of Jesus to find the little hollow spot (where there would be no vital artery or vein). When he found it, he took one of the square-cut iron nails from his teeth and held it against the spot, directly behind where the so-called lifeline ends. Then he raised the hammer over the nail head and brought it down with force…
The executioner jumps across the body to the other wrist…As soon as he was satisfied that the condemned man could not, in struggling, pull himself loose and perhaps fall forward off the cross, he brought both of his arms upward rapidly. This was the signal to lift the crossbeam.
Two soldiers grabbed each side of the crossbeam and lifted. As they pulled up, they dragged Jesus by the wrists…When the soldiers reached the upright, the four of them began to lift the crossbeam higher until the feet of Jesus were off the ground. The body must have writhed in pain…
When the crossbeam was set firmly, the executioner reached up, set the board which listed the name of the prisoner and the crime. Then he knelt before the cross. Two soldiers hurried to help, and each one took hold of a leg at the calf. The ritual was to nail the right foot over the left, and this was probably the most difficult part of the work. If the feet were pulled downward, and nailed close to the foot of the cross, the prisoner always died quickly. Over the years, the Romans learned to push the feet upward on the cross, so that the condemned man could lean on the nails so as to stretch himself upward.
His arms were now in V position, and Jesus became conscious of the two unendurable circumstances: the first was that the pain in His wrists was beyond bearing, and that muscle cramps knotted His forearms and upper arms and the pads of His shoulders; the second was that His pectoral muscles at the sides of His chest were momentarily paralyzed. This induced in Him an involuntary panic; for He found that while he could draw air into his lungs, He was powerless to exhale.
To be able to keep breathing, the victim on the cross had to stay in constant motion, and so he literally dragged himself up and down, up and down, constantly so as to make breathing possible. Eventually, he could no longer lift himself sufficiently to continue breathing.
With each second, the pain mounted. His arms, His legs, His entire torso screamed with pain; the nerves were pulled tightly, like string of a violin across its bridge. Slowly and steadily, he was being asphyxiated, as though two thumbs were pressing against His throat.
On the day that Jesus of Nazareth was crucified, that is the day that another Empire was born. Like any superpower, it had its infancy stage where it was as obscure as anything someone can laugh at in jest. However, over the years, that Empire has braved persecution, institutionalization, legislation, and ultimately, rejection by the very people it was designed to help. Over 2000 years later, that empire still goes stronger and stronger. What is the “Secret”?
Today, the Roman Empire is a historical relic. Jesus’ startup though, the Church is a global institution that has conquered the greatest empire in the world—the self.
Jesus of Nazareth was one “weird” man. He was uncommon. He just could not fit into the norms. He saw things differently. He was lonely at times because not even his closest friends understood him. He had a vision larger than life, loftier than any vision his peers could ever have. His vision was for the entire world. Interestingly, this trait is common to all men. Each of us has something that we can “Stand Alone” about. The key is to find it and own it.
No superpower will ever last longer than 2000 years if its primary focus is not be betterment of the world. That is how I know that America will not be the world superpower in the future.
His death was not a chance. He knew it. He spoke about it often. He even knew when it was due. He presented Himself willingly to be killed. He knew that for man to be reconciled back to God, the ultimate prize had to be paid. He had to die. His Father had for one moment “reject and forsake” him so that His Father can look onto the rest of the world—the new born Empire. We do not have enough space to talk about his surrender to death, but you can read here about why His bones were not broken.
Again no institution will ever endure in its quest for years if the element of obsession with a purpose is not there. If the focus of a business is just to make profits, it won’t endure long. Any superpower worth its salt must have this. But what is the obsession of America? What is the obsession of Russia? Or France? Or Great Britain? If it is things and not people, that empire will come and go.
He was unheard of to the rest of the world ALL HIS LIFE. The man just became prominent in the last 3 years of his life! Don’t tell me that He was prominent, for if that was the case, he wouldn’t need a forerunner to announce His entrance into public life. The thing is that he was comfortable being obscure.
Today, there are very many obscure visionaries out there. Some might not even know it themselves. Others know it but they are struggling. One day they shall rise to the fore and the whole world will wonder where they came from. The same applies to the next superpower. It is already in formation, but it’s obscure.
He launched His startup at the ripe age of 30. Why not 25? At 25, someone is mature enough to start his own family and even take care of himself. We have no idea why He delayed. The only explanation is that timing was everything for Him. Curiously, He did not reign supreme for years on end. He just took 3 years and established His Kingdom. Then He paid the ultimate prize for its sustenance and the rest is history. A superpower needs to read the signs of the times and know when to act. Just one blink in being on the wrong side of time…and that’s it!
He surrounded Himself with just 12 men in his inner circle. There is still evidence that there were other people outside of the 12 that he used to govern. This was a genius form of governance that helped his Startup endure through the decades. Maybe 12 is the magic number, or maybe not. However, lack of structure and organization will bring any superpower down to its knees. There is no need for a foreign invasion
Friends, these principles are applicable to any institution in the world. None will be enduring if they lacked them.
Happy Easter Holidays!