Jesus' Nails

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Jesus nails - What do we know about the nails?

We know that crucifixion was invented by the Persians about 300 or 400 years B.C. It was among the most painful and excruciating form of punishment leading to death ever contrived by man for man (women were never crucified). If we trace the word "excruciation" back to its origins we find that it is inextricably linked to the act of crucifixion: Latin excruciatus, past participle of excruciare, from ex- + cruciare to crucify, from cruc-, crux cross (Merriam Webster Dictionary).

Contrary to popular notion the nails which held Jesus to the cross must have been driven into His wrists and not his palms. Jesus' nails would have been made of heavy, probably square, iron material, 7-9 inches long. Many great painters from the past have depicted Jesus being nailed through His palms to the cross; it is a medical impossibility for this to be the case. You may have to really work your mind to grasp the enormity of what was going on here. The weight of a fully grown man was going to be suspended by three nails.

Not all crucifixions were carried out in the same way; some victims were tied to the cross while others were nailed. Jesus was nailed. He was made to carry the cross-bar to the place of His execution. The upright post (stipe) was a permanent fixture. The crossbar (patibulum) was always carried to the location, not the complete cross as is often depicted. When Jesus got to the place of His execution, He was placed on His back with His arms outstretched. The nails were first driven through small wooden disks to eliminate any chance of the heads pulling through the flesh. The site of the incision in the arm was critical; the Romans had perfected the procedure, a very specific procedure. The legionnaire who had been given the task felt for a specific spot, the nail had to be driven in-between the bones of the forearm up close to the wrist while not severing any major arteries or veins. There is a space between eight small bones which is structurally suitable to permit a full body weight to be supported for a time. If the nails had been driven into the palms of the hands, under the extreme weight, they would have ripped out between the fingers.

First, a nail would have been driven into His arm on one side, and then the other. The legionnaire would make sure that His arms were not pulled too tightly, allowing flexion and movement. With this done, the patibulum was then raised and affixed to the stripe. The next stage involved the nailing of the feet; this was also a deliberate action. The third nail had to be driven through both feet, which were turned outward so the nail could be hammered inside the Achilles tendon. With His knees slightly flexed Jesus was now crucified. As He slowly sagged down, He would have tried to support His weight with the muscles of His legs, an impossible position to maintain. In some cases, the victims' legs were broken, so that they couldn't support themselves in this way. Eventually more and more weight was placed upon the nails. The method the Romans had perfected ensured that crucifixion victims would hang painfully until their diaphragm went into spasm and they literally suffocated to death.

What an incredible price He paid for our sins!



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