Why on earth would any follow a Crucified Messiah?

As I was reading Chapman’s Ancient Perceptions of Crucifixion, I came upon this account:

There was a certain young man among the besieged, of great boldness, and very strenuous energy, his name was Eleazar; he greatly signalised himself in those sallies, and encouraged the Jews to go out in great numbers, in order to hinder the raising of the banks, and did the Romans a vast deal of mischief when they came to fighting; he so managed matters, that those who sallied out made their attacks easily, and returned back without danger, and this by still bringing up the rear himself.

Now it happened, that, at a certain time when the fight was over, and both sides were parted, and retired home, he, in way of contempt of the enemy, and thinking that none of them would begin the fight again at that time, stayed outside the gates, and talked with those who were upon the wall, and his mind was wholly intent upon what they said.

Now a certain person belonging to the Roman camp, whose name was Rufus, by birth an Egyptian, ran upon him suddenly, when no one expected such a thing, and carried him off, with his armour itself; while, in the meantime, those who saw it from the wall were under such an amazement, that Rufus prevented their assistance, and carried Eleazar to the Roman camp.

So the general of the Romans ordered that he should be taken up naked, set before the city to be seen, and sorely whipped before their eyes. Upon this sad accident that befell the young man, the Jews were terribly confounded, and the city, with one voice, sorely lamented him, and the mourning proved greater than could well be supposed upon the calamity of a single person.

When Bassus perceived that, he began to think of using a stratagem against the enemy, and was desirous to aggravate their grief, in order to prevail with them to surrender the city for the preservation of that man. Nor did he fail in his hope; for he commanded them to set up a cross, as if he were just going to hang Eleazar upon it immediately: the sight of this occasioned a sore grief among those that were in the citadel, and they groaned vehemently, and cried out that they could not bear to see him thus killed.

Whereupon Eleazar besought them not to disregard him, now he was going to suffer a most miserable death, and exhorted them to save themselves, by yielding to the Roman power and good fortune, since all other people were now conquered by them.

These men were greatly moved with what he said, there being also many within the city that interceded for him, because he was of an eminent and very numerous family; so they now yielded to their passion of pity, contrary to their usual custom. Accordingly, they sent out immediately certain messengers, and treated with the Romans, in order to surrender the citadel to them, and desired that they might be permitted to go away, and take Eleazar along with them.
(Josephus – War of the Jews 7:196-205 )

Imagine that – a whole city, not wanting to see a man put to death by a cross, surrendering to the Romans? How terrible then the sight, nature, and anguish which would plague the crucified man and those that saw him? It was the sight of a cross which caused that city to surrender.

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8 Replies to “Why on earth would any follow a Crucified Messiah?”

    1. On the things that irritated me about certain groups and movements which were in some way political was the (mis)use of the cross as a political tool. Marching and carrying the cross does not a righteous cause make. The cross was something shameful, and yet, their is the mystery of salvation and humiliation.

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