The Cross And The Electric Chair

Welcome to FOOTFALLS ON THE CROSS WALK, articles of thoughts on the cross of Christ in the everyday life of the believer.

I’m Ken Pierpont, the Baptist pastor in Jonesville, Michigan.


“Anyone who is hung on a tree is under God’s curse” (Deuteronomy 21:23b). The enemies of Christ tried to rid the earth of him by hanging Him upon a cross. The execution of a person by crucifixion was the Roman government’s means of exercising capital punishment. Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor over Israel in Jesus’ day, though under pressure from his wife to spare Christ, nevertheless finally gave sentence to put Him to death. The ignorant mob, manipulated into a frenzy by self-serving Jewish leaders, cried for crucifixion. Pilate acquiesced and the innocent Lord Jesus was led away to be prepared for execution.

When I was a young boy growing up near Columbus, Ohio, it was common to hear that the electric chair in the Ohio State Penitentiary in downtown Columbus was being prepared for the execution of a criminal. Some macabre comment often followed: “Well, old Sparkie is going to bite again,” someone might say. The electric chair was and still is an object of horror and revulsion.

Could you imagine someone making and having for sale miniature electric chairs on necklaces or earrings? Could you imagine a man’s tiepin with a silver or gold-plated replica of the electric chair attached to it? You reply, “Of course not! No one would be so foolish.” But, in light of that, think for a moment with me as to what we have made of the cross. This object of horror is on fine jewelry all round us!

I am not suggesting there is something wrong with displaying the cross on jewelry or our clothing. Many Christians choose to wear a cross because it reminds them or others of their faith in the Christ of the cross. On the other hand, it is not uncommon to see a cross on a chain or key ring of a person who professes no particular faith in Christ or Christianity. One wonders how much thought has really gone into the decision to displaying the cross on one’s person. Perhaps even we Christians wear the cross without thought as to its true significance. Wearing it because it is fashionable or merely because it seems to go with the outfit we have picked out for the day would be examples of the thoughtless displaying of the cross.

The cross should bring to mind the subject of death, agony and torture. Christ endured all these for you and me. In fact, apart from His suffering and death, bringing as it did His glorious Resurrection, no one could ever be saved.

The Bible says He suffered, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God (I Peter 3:18).

Most states in our nation, which practice capital punishment for certain offenses have abandoned hanging, the firing squad and the electric chair as a means to accomplish this. Mostly, if it is done today the means used is lethal injection. This is thought of as the most humane means of execution, according to authorities.

In light of modern attempts to administer justice mercifully, think for me a moment about the grisly nature of death by crucifixion, that which the Lord Jesus Christ endured.

Many volumes have been written on the technical aspects of death on a cross. It is said that the victim is eventually asphyxiated due to the weight of the body hanging on the cross, allowing for air to be inhaled, but prohibiting air from being fully exhaled from the lungs. It was not uncommon for the victim to hang on a cross for DAYS before death came. Imagine the horror, the suffering Surely anyone with a spark of decency is revulsed by such thoughts.

The next time I am tempted to think that sin in my life is “no big deal”,” I hope I think of what the Lord Jesus did on the cross for me. If you have ever been led to wonder why god allowed His one and only Son to die on a cruel cross, why it came about, then listen carefully to these brief passages from God’s Word on the subject.

Our next article will feature the Subject: “How could the Cross Offend?” Here now are our Scriptures on the necessity for the cross in the life of our Lord:

Read: I Corinthians 1:18-25
Ephesians 2:11-19