The Urantia Book -- Part IV. The Life And
Teachings Of Jesus
PAPER 187: Section 2.
The soldiers first bound the Master's arms with cords to the crossbeam, and
then they nailed his hands to the wood. When they had hoisted this crossbeam
up on the post, and after they had nailed it securely to the upright timber
of the cross, they bound and nailed his feet to the wood, using one long nail
to penetrate both feet. The upright timber had a large peg,
inserted at the
proper height, which served as a sort of
saddle for supporting the body weight.
The cross was not high, the Master's feet being only about three feet from the
ground. He was therefore able to hear all that was said of him in derision and
could plainly see the expression on the faces of all those who so thoughtlessly
mocked him. And also could those present easily hear all that Jesus said during
these hours of lingering torture and slow death.
It was the custom to remove all clothes from those who were to be crucified,
but since the Jews greatly objected to the public exposure of the naked human
form, the Romans always provided a suitable loin cloth for all persons crucified
at Jerusalem. Accordingly, after Jesus' clothes had been removed, he was thus
garbed before he was put upon the cross.
Crucifixion was resorted to in order to provide a cruel and lingering punishment,
the victim sometimes not dying for several days. There was considerable sentiment
against crucifixion in Jerusalem, and there existed a society of Jewish women
who always sent a representative to crucifixions for the purpose of offering
drugged wine to the victim in order to lessen his suffering. But when Jesus
narcotized wine, as thirsty as he was, he refused to drink it. The
Master chose to retain his human consciousness until the very end. He desired
to meet death, even in this cruel and inhuman form, and conquer it by voluntary
submission to the full human experience.
Before Jesus was put on his cross, the two brigands had already been placed
on their crosses, all the while cursing and spitting upon their executioners.
Jesus' only words, as they nailed him to the crossbeam, were, "Father, forgive
them, for they know not what they do." He could not have so mercifully and lovingly
interceded for his executioners if such thoughts of affectionate devotion had
not been the
mainspring of all his life of unselfish service. The ideas, motives,
and longings of a lifetime are openly revealed in a crisis.
After the Master was hoisted on the cross, the captain nailed the title up above
his head, and it read in three languages, "Jesus of Nazareth -- the King of
the Jews." The Jews were infuriated by this believed insult. But Pilate was
chafed by their disrespectful manner; he felt he had been intimidated and humiliated,
and he took this method of obtaining petty revenge. He could have written "Jesus,
a rebel." But he well knew how these Jerusalem Jews
detested the very name of
Nazareth, and he was determined thus to humiliate them. He knew that they would
also be cut to the very quick by seeing this executed Galilean called "The King
of the Jews."
Many of the Jewish leaders, when they learned how Pilate had sought to deride
them by placing this inscription on the cross of Jesus, hastened out to Golgotha,
but they dared not attempt to remove it since the Roman soldiers were standing
on guard. Not being able to remove the title, these leaders mingled with the
crowd and did their utmost to incite derision and ridicule, lest any give serious
regard to the inscription.
The Apostle John, with Mary the mother of Jesus, Ruth, and Jude, arrived on
the scene just after Jesus had been hoisted to his position on the cross, and
just as the captain was nailing the title above the Master's head. John was
the only one of the eleven apostles to witness the crucifixion, and even he
was not present all of the time since he ran into Jerusalem to bring back his
mother and her friends soon after he had brought Jesus' mother to the scene.
As Jesus saw his mother, with John and his brother and sister, he smiled but
said nothing. Meanwhile the four soldiers assigned to the Master's crucifixion,
as was the custom, had divided his clothes among them, one taking the sandals,
one the turban, one the girdle, and the fourth the cloak. This left the
seamless vestment reaching down to near the knees, to be cut up into four
pieces, but when the soldiers saw what an unusual garment it was, they decided
to cast lots for it. Jesus looked down on them while they divided his garments,
and the thoughtless crowd
jeered at him.
It was well that the Roman soldiers took possession of the Master's clothing.
Otherwise, if his followers had gained possession of these garments, they
would have been tempted to resort to superstitious relic worship. The Master
desired that his followers should have nothing material to associate with
his life on earth. He wanted to leave mankind only the memory of a human life
dedicated to the high spiritual ideal of being consecrated to doing the Father's