In Roman culture– crucifixion was a slow, cruel, humiliation and death meant to publicly serve notice of what happens to those who challenge political power.
Within the biblical storyline, the curse of being hung on a tree seems to have echoes of the law (Gal 3:13; Deut 21:23), and deeper still of the tragic consequences of what happened in the Garden.
In Roman practice, the cruelty of crucifixion was used to terrify any citizen who thought twice about challenging the authority of the Emperor. In Jesus’ execution, the cruelty of crucifixion was used to reveal the nature of our sin, and the heart of a better Kingdom.
The unthinkable became real so that Jesus could say “Father forgive them, they don’t know what they are doing”… Followed by his words to one of the two criminals who died with him, “Today you will be with me in paradise”
The resulting good news— to be announced to all is that God loves us, and subjected himself to the worst we could do in our rebellion— so that he could assure us that he has born our sin in his own body, to show us how much God loves us and how ready he is to forgive.
Who could have imagined that our God would use the terror of political power gone bad to overwhelm us with the eternal goodness of knowing him?