Crucifixion is one of the cruelest forms of execution ever invented. Its purpose was not just to put a man to death. It was to bring extreme public shame and to cause the greatest possible amount of physical suffering.
Crucifixion had been in occasional use among the Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, and others, but it was the Romans who made it a common means of execution. Men hanging on crosses became a familiar sight in the conquered territories of Rome.
In order to produce the greatest amount of shame and pain, crucifixion was almost always publicly preceded by both lashes and mockery. Then the condemned man was made to carry the crossbeam along public roads, admist the jeers and insults of the people, to the place of execution.
The victim was then stripped of all his clothing and hung completely naked on the cross. A sign giving his name and sentence was put at the top of the cross and he was the object of continued mocking from people who passed by.
The physical torture of the cross was greatly increased because the process of crucifixion damaged no vital part of the human body. Death could take days.
The victim was attached to the cross , either by tying his hands and feet to it or by the more cruel way of being nailed to it. Thus he was held immobile, unable to cope with heat or cold and insects.
The pain of his wounds, his thirst and exhaustion, would gradually leave him so weak he could no longer support himself with his legs and he would hang limp. His body weight pulling against his arms would gradually cut off his air supply and death would finally come by suffocation. The process could be sped up by breaking the victim’s legs.
The cross was looked upon with such horror and scandal, that it was considered bad manners to even mention it in the presence of respectable people. To quote Cicero: “Let even the name of the cross be kept away, not only from the bodies of the citizens of Rome, but also from their thought, sight, and hearing.”
Then one day, a carpenter was crucified and instead of bringing shame, His death conquered the cross. Early in the Fourth Century, Roman Emperor Constantine banned the practice of crucifixion, in honor of Jesus Christ.
Jesus took the cross, the cruelest of all human implements and made it a universal symbol for the love of God for human beings! Now you know the best of the story.