The Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified in 1791. Among other things, it restricts the severity of punishments that state and federal governments may impose upon persons who have been convicted of a criminal offense.
Part of the reasoning behind the 8th amendment is the idea of proportionality. This says that the punishment must fit the crime. Proportionality also puts forth the idea that the value of something is based upon the price paid for said object.
Some states have decided that the death penalty itself is a cruel and unusual penalty no matter how heinous the crime that calls for it. Many states and countries have done away with it completely. When it is used, the goal is to bring death in the least painful, most humane way possible.
As Easter approaches we often see the image of Jesus hanging on the cross. But in today’s world, most have little idea of the cruelty involved in the imposition of that type of death.
My thought this morning is that Jesus not only chose to die in my place. (and yours) He also chose to come at a time when the death penalty was purposely cruel.
At the time of Christ’s crucifixion, the Romans had perfected the “art” of death. It was a crucial part of the culture of the day. The colosseum was erected to be an arena for bloody battles to the death. The last man standing was hailed a hero, only to face another battle “next week.”
The Roman guards were masters at extending the most excruciating death possible.
The primary goal of the crucifixion was not to just cause death, but to inflict as much pain and suffering as possible – for as long as possible.
In the darkest moments of my life, I have never considered suicide. But I have a compassion and an understanding of why a person would make that choice. I also know that if I did take that option, I would choose the easiest, most pain free way possible.
When God sent His Son to die in my place, and Jesus chose to carry out that plan, why did He do it THEN, in THAT way? Why not NOW, when it would be far easier, much less painful?
At this point, I don’t have all the answer, but I also have learned this; as I delve into tough Qs like this, I always come to a greater understanding of how God Loves us. So, it begs the Q! Why did God send His Son to suffer so greatly?
What part does the suffering of Jesus have to do with my life today? If all Jesus had to do was die, wasn’t there a softer, more gentle way for that to happen? Perhaps, even, in His sleep? Of old age? Think of all He could have accomplished, the miracles He could have performed if He’d lived to the ripe old age of 90! Like my Daddy!!
Why the intense suffering? Why the hours of excruciating pain and humiliation? Why then, at that particular point in history? Why in that way?
Perhaps it has something to do with the way God views sin. If the penalty for sin was small, then it would not have taken God to pay it. It would not have taken His Son. The enormity of the price paid is indicative of the enormity of the sin.
Most individuals classify sin. The Catholic Church names 7 “Mortal” sins. We think a little white lie told to protect is not as consequential as the lie to cover adultery. So we excuse our sin by comparing it to the worse among us.
It’s a lie from the pit of hell to think: “I only commit small sins, so I don’t need as much GRACE as….” It’s also a lie from the pit – to think: “My sin is so much worse than…. There is no hope of GRACE for me.”
If it was Love for me (and U) that kept the Son of God on the cross suffering to the point of such an excruciatingly painful death, that tells me HIS LOVE is far beyond anything I will EVER understand.
The beauty of it is that I don’t have to understand it. All I have to do is accept it. The price has already been paid. In Blood. HIS!
As a Catholic, we have our stations of the cross each Easter.”I always wanted a different outcome, but knew it was always the same, HE died on the cross for OUR sins! So brutal an ending to life’s!