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>Living Faith: Life in the Kingdom

6,001 Crucifixions

The Roman general Crassus crushed Rome's third slave revolt, and sealed his triumph over the slaves by crucifying them.

Six thousand of them, to be exact.

When Crassus' cruelty was spent, the Appian way from Rome to Capua—a distance of more than a hundred miles—was lined with cross after cross after cross. For days, those crosses held six thousand slaves who prayed to die and could not. Later, they slowly succumbed to the mercy of death. Still, weeks later, their corpses hung—decomposing, then rotting, horrid, spectral and eventually skeletal.

For the slaves, the cross was the end.

On their crosses, freedom floundered, dreams died, hopes perished, and lives were crushed. Finis. Finished.

Of all six thousand, I doubt that any one would have had the audacity to insist that the cross could mark a world-changing beginning. It would take yet another cross and crucifixion, one hundred years later, to establish such an audacious claim.

It would take Jesus.

Spartacus, the slave general, had 120,000 followers, give or take. Jesus said, “I, if I be lifted up, will draw all men to Me.”

For Spartacus' men, the crosses meant the kingdom was over. For Jesus' men, the cross became the beginning of the kingdom.

For Spartacus' slaves, the crosses were the closing act in a tragic loss. For Jesus, the cross was the opening act in a stunning, world-upsetting, eternal drama.

It would take Jesus to redefine the cross.

It would take Jesus to take the symbol of the oppressed and declare it liberation.

It would take Jesus to establish the cross as a glorious beginning, and not a bitter ending.

It would take Jesus to make the triumph of the cross complete and eternal.

He did. And for that, all of us slaves are infinitely grateful.

—Arlin Weaver

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