So I promised myself I’d write down another helpful insight I took from Hengel’s little study, Crucifixion. Hengel notes that crucifixion in the Roman empire was the typical punishment for slaves – a fearful deterrent to keep the masses in check. He goes on . . .
“An alleged son of god who could not help himself at the time of his deepest need and who rather required his followers to take up the cross, was hardly an attraction to the lower classes of Roman and Greek society. People were all too aware of what it meant to bear the cross through the city and then be nailed to it, and feared it; they wanted to get away from it.”
Hengel then goes on to discuss the famous Christ hymn of Philippians 2 noting the connection between Jesus emptying himself, taking the form of a slave, and being obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. The logical end point of Jesus taking the form of the slave is to take the slaves death – crucifixion. The crucifixion wasn’t a tragic accident, but rather the necessary end of the rejected servant.