The disciples ran away when Jesus was crucified. This was because they were afraid that they might die on the cross, treated as criminals, just as Jesus had been.
The rack of the Cross was used as a means of executing criminals from 400-300 BC. Different means of execution had been used for a long time: most usually beheading or hanging. Sometimes criminals were eaten by ferocious animals, skinned alive or burned to death. Nevertheless, these forms of execution were not considered cruel enough. They tried to find the cruelest punishment to execute the most vicious prisoners. Finally, they came up with the rack of the cross.
When the victim was bound on the cross, with nails driven through the hands and feet, their blood slowly drained out. They died slowly, in terrible, unbearable pain. Crucifixion was used to execute the worst criminals, who were no longer to live in the world. What would happen to the disciples who had followed Jesus when Jesus was crucified? They would not be able to escape death: they and their families would be shamed by being treated in the same way as Jesus was.
They placed the written notice of the charge against Jesus, which read: THE KING OF THE JEWS (Mark 15:26). When the King died, the nation was destroyed. This was why the Romans mocked the Jews by placing the notice reading THE KING OF THE JEWS. How shameful and shocking it was for the whole nation, if their King was cursed like a robber!
However, the suffering of Jesus on the Cross became the faith of the early Christians. This was impossible for the teachers of the Law and the Pharisees to understand. The Jews served God, but they didn’t accept Jesus as the Son of God. They thought Jesus was a blasphemer and a sinner who had violated the nation. You do things that you shouldn’t do, like killing the Son of God, out of ignorance. You will have eternal life when you have knowledge of the Son of God (John 3:16).
Pastor Seok-Jeon Yoon
Extracted from Yonsei Newspaper #606