Did Jesus ‘Want’ to be Nailed to a Cross?

Philippines Crucifixion god damn that looks painful

I’m pretty sure the answer to the question in the title is “no,” but there are many things I don’t know about religion. For example: Why is it that some Christians celebrate Easter by eating bunny-shaped chocolates (often after an informal hunt) and painting eggs, while others celebrate it by carrying a gigantic wooden cross up to the point well they will be literally nailed to it in a fashion that was – to my knowledge – reminiscent of how Jesus was forced to a few millennia ago? And for that matter… what part of that makes it “Good Friday?”

Despite being condemned by the Catholic church itself, Christians the Philippines have been reenacting Jesus’ death in what they call a “passion play” for years. Yesterday marked the latest play, which actually – no I’m not speaking metaphorically – involved real crucifixion. Nailing real nails. Through their real hands. And this isn’t just a crazy family who decided to make a cult-like perversion of a religion. Thousands of onlookers, many of which are tourists, come for the show.

I just want to put this into perspective: People from the Philipines would rather jam a nail through their hands and be literally crucified than listen to Justin Bieber – considering the latter is the only of the two that is being considered for a nationwide ban. For much more disturbing photos, see Russia Today’s post here.

And during this event religious people also march the streets whipping their backs with bamboo sticks, often spraying the tourists and audience with blood. The reason for this it to atone for one’s sins. Or, naturally, to be closer to God. Because nothing says closeness like the bleeding flesh off one’s back or a nail through the hand of a follower.

Indeed, I’m always fascinated by the unwarranted stereotype of Christians being morally above others; yet they always have such a gigantic amount of sins to atone for.

So why is it called “Good Friday?” BibleStudy.org has this to say: wrote something about it which I can’t legally share here anymore because I was threatened with litigation.

Well that was pretty well-researched. Unfortunately, all I understood as the answer to the question “why do we call it Good Friday” was “I have no idea, stop asking.” But then again, I suppose that is the rationale for a lot of religious events like the live crucifixion described above.

When it comes to the choice of crucifixions, rationality, etc., I’ll stick with the flying spaghetti monster. At least believing in that means I don’t have to whip myself. (Unless, of course, the Lord told me to.)

Flying Spaghetti Monster

Crucifixion Photo Credit: AFP Photo/Noel Celis
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5 Responses to Did Jesus ‘Want’ to be Nailed to a Cross?

  1. Thomas says:

    Much like how BibleStudy.org didn’t answer their question of ‘Why is it called Good Friday’ neither did you answer your’s of ‘Did Jesus want to be nailed to a cross’.

    I assume you don’t read much of the bible so do you mind if I try answering this question for you? It says quite clearly in the new testament that Jesus was extremely nervous and fearful of his crucifixion, even though he knew it was going to happen a while before it actually did. It says he even ‘sweated blood’ (which is actually possible when in dire stress, though it isn’t actually ‘sweat’). Basically Jesus did not want to die on a cross, he even begged God asking that if there was any way he could get out of this, could he? In the end there was no other way as the whole point was that it would be a massive sacrifice for both God and Jesus, thereby being great enough to atone for the sins of all people (if they ask for forgiveness). Jesus went along with it, even though he did not want to do it.

    As for the what those Christians in the Philippines were doing, no where in the bible does it suggest or condone behaviour like that. In fact the whole point of Jesus’ death was so that we wouldn’t have to make sacrifices like that. (An example being how Jews used to sacrifice lambs at the temple).

    I hope I’ve helped you know more about how Jesus felt about his crucifixion based on the bible. If you want chapters or verses I can look them up for you if you wish.

    • Ryo says:

      Hi Thomas. Thanks for the comment!

      Oh, yeah… right… I mean, when I made the title, I was trying to sound as sarcastic as possible. I guess that doesn’t come across in text, but… I was under the impression that… well, of course Jesus didn’t want to be nailed to the cross. Because you know, that would entail… being nailed to something! I imagine Jesus didn’t look at a giant wooden cross and say “hmmm you know what this giant cross needs? OH! I got it…”

      To be honest, I really wanted to write about this because I was just fascinated about it from an anthropological standpoint, especially with the fact that the Catholic church condemns it. Isn’t that the weirdest part? I’m imagining the Pope saying “No, really! You don’t have to do that. You really really like Jesus – we get it!” But yet they’ve made an annual tradition of it. Amazing.

      Anyways, the “answer” to my faux-question was really in the first sentence (“no”), but regardless, I appreciate your comment!
      Please feel free to write the chapters/verses in subsequent comments just in case any other reader wants to know, but only if it’s not an inconvenience for you. I didn’t realize the title may have been taken seriously, so someone else may be curious to know.
      Thanks, Thomas!

  2. Allan Appel says:

    Just a little bit of history here to further understand why Jesus, or anyone for that matter, would not want to be truly crucified.

    The Romans, in their wisdom, used crucifixion to put criminals to death because crucifixion was the worst way the Romans could think of to inflict pain on another human being without killing him or her outright. We tend to be misled by medieval artists who depicted Christ with nails through his palms. However, the Romans would drive the nail through the wrist between the two bones that support the hand attached to the arm. The agony of the pain was incredible because the nail would be driven through the main nerve that runs through the arm. Little blood need be spilled, if it was done “correctly”, and, when the feet were nailed to the cross as well, to prevent flailing and possible tearing of the wrists, a person could literally stand on the nails through his feet to relieve some of the agony, followed by exhaustion and collapsing onto the wrists, which would redouble the agony felt again.

    Depending upon the health of the individual, one could take one, two or even three days to die, finally succumbing to collapsed lungs which would slowly strangle the victim, or to infection from the wounds inflicted on the body. The body would be left to rot on the cross as a lesson to others, if the watching of the previous agony of the dying person was not enough.

    So, if anyone wants to truly mimic Christ’s “dying for their sins”, they would have to go a lot further than having nails driven through their palms. Not that that would be a walk in the park.

    And, for a long time, the Cross was not seen as a symbol of Christian faith because it was instead a symbol of horrible death. It was only after people began to forget the Roman methods that Christians could adopt the Cross as a symbol of hope and salvation.

    Hope this helps.

    Allan Appel

    • Ryo says:

      Thanks for the comment, Allan!
      Wow… that’s probably the most vivid comment I’ve ever received!

      It didn’t really occur to me that the cross would have been associated with something negative, considering how ubiquitous it is in popular culture as such a “positive” symbol (minus the KKK associations). But of course it’s no surprise that it was. I looked it up and found that it was around the time of Constantine that the cross began to even be associated with Christianity. Apparently the cross has its roots from Paganism. I suppose that’s not much of a surprise either… so did Easter.

      Especially when it comes to something as passionately believed as religion, I’m always fascinated by how they evolve. I know that’s not something that religious people want to hear – they’re often allergic to the word “evolution” – but they do evolve. Christianity in America today looks totally different from how it did 100 or even 50 years ago.

      In Japan, there are very few Christians; but American culture obviously influences Japan, and one way is in the fashion. There are lots of people here who consider the cross to be just a regular fashion accessory. Probably in the same way that you see lots of people getting Chinese/Japanese characters tattooed onto their bodies, some people just wear crosses – particularly as necklaces. Not many people do, but you might see it from time to time, completely divorced from any religious associations.

      I wonder how the various artifacts and symbols of Christianity will change in Christian nations within this century? Especially with dwindling numbers of believers. It will be interesting.
      Anyways, thanks again for the comment!

  3. NoPartOfTheWorld says:

    Two words are in use in the Christian Greek part of the scriptures that are mistranslated as “cross”, stauros and xylon. One means a stake or a beam, and the other means a stake or pole, or tree. The evidence of it being a cross is another interesting topic of discussion, as there is more evidence that it was an upright stake or beam that Christ was impaled to, rather than an actual cross. Thanks to mistranslation (the original wordings can prove the point, but this isn’t the place for that) a world empire based on Christ being put on a cross is built. A good idea is to type into a search engine “crux simplex” and look at what images it produces. A “crux” in itself isn’t a cross.

    As for this self-flagellation, it also isn’t a scriptural teaching, but still, that won’t stop people from doing it, will it.

    I like your perspective on the word “evolution”. Due to the “theory of evolution”, it is hard to use the word without this theory becoming assumed as accepted. A bit like the word gay, if one was watching a movie from the forties or fifties…unless one looked at the context, it is easy to overlook the meaning of what the person is talking about, and has to be pussyfooted around so as not to offend, or to confuse people.

    Still, more on the article, of course Christ didn’t want to be impaled, yet he knew that he had come to earth for the purpose of offering a sacrifice for mankind. I’m sure he would have rather had a less tortuous ending. Still, Christ was obedient to his father, regardless of what the world was going to do to him, and he endured death on the torture stake, labelled a blasphemer, for the sake of true innocent blood buying the ability for mankind to be able to stand in an approved state before God based on the sacrifice of Christ.

    If you want to look at a website in Japanese (I think your from Japan, yes?), there is a link.

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