Every aspect of crucifixion was designed to disgrace and humiliate the condemned. As if it were not enough to be nailed to a cross before the whole world, the victim was also displayed completely naked. Those who were crucified were stripped of all of their clothing, exposing their genitals and allowing the watching crowd to witness the condemned relieving themselves by urination or defecation.[1]

The results of this horrific display brought insects which further tormented the dying and added to their shame, before the watchful eyes of those who often hated and despised the condemned criminal.[2]

The humiliation that Jesus must have felt, as He was publicly accused of crimes He did not commit, now, the ultimate degradation; stripped of His clothing, before those who hated Him. Jesus was willing to undergo this horrible torment because He loves us so dearly. Whatever disgrace He felt while hanging naked before the world, Jesus determined that it was worth the cost so that you and I would have the opportunity to be with Him, forever.

David records the poetic description of the Messiah as He is on the cross, stripped of His clothing and naked before the world.

Psalms 22:17 “I can count all My bones. They look and stare at Me.”

New Testament Fulfillment:

Matthew 27:35 “Then they crucified Him, and divided His garments…”

Mark 15:24 And when they crucified Him, they divided His garments, casting lots for them to determine what every man should take.

Luke 23:34 Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” And they divided His garments and cast lots.

John 19:23-24 Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took His garments and made four parts, to each soldier a part, and also the tunic. Now the tunic was without seam, woven from the top in one piece. They said therefore among themselves, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it, whose it shall be,” that the Scripture might be fulfilled which says: “They divided My garments among them, And for My clothing they cast lots. Therefore the soldiers did these things.”

They Look and Stare at Me

In the prophecy of Psalm 22, we read that the soldiers will divide His garments among them, And for His clothing they cast lots. Before Jesus was raised upon the cross, His executioners removed all of His garments. We notice that John records the soldiers dividing the clothing into four parts: the loin cloth, the shorts, the shirt, and the outer robe. Each of the first three, the soldiers take one garment; the fourth, they determined ownership by drawing straws.

The common picture given of Jesus’ crucifixion is that He was lifted up on the cross, very high above the crowd. In reality, history records that the crucified were usually just a foot or two above the ground.[3] It should be understood that the entire purpose of crucifixion was to humiliate the condemned by making their execution a visible horror.

Hebrews 12:2 “looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

2 Corinthians 4:16-18 “Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”

Psalm 22:17 vividly describes the crucified, stating: they can count all my bones. As a person is suspended upon a wooden cross, his wrists are nailed on either side of a wooden beam, the upper body is stretched upward; exposing the lower ribs. It is very interesting that this prophecy so accurately describes the precise appearance of a person who is being crucified. A secondary meaning for: they can count all my bones, is confirmation that the one described as crucified in Psalm 22; will be naked with all His bones visible.

The application of the 22nd Psalm to Jesus Christ is certain, for this was the purpose of David, to reveal the suffering of the Messiah as He would come from His line of descendants and fulfill the words of God, who promised: “Once I have sworn by My holiness; I will not lie to David: His seed shall endure forever… (See the chapter: David’s Son).

Jesus hung naked upon a cross, and took the complete wrath of God against all sins. He did this willingly, and with great fortitude; seeing the final outcome: all those who will hear this story, believe upon Jesus for their salvation, and receive eternal life.

[1] Seneca, Dialogue “To Marcia on Consolation”, in Moral Essays, 6.20.3, trans. John W. Basore, The Loeb Classical Library (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1946) 2:69
Licona, Michael (2010). The Resurrection of Jesus: A New Historiographical Approach. InterVarsity Press,. p. 304. ISBN 978-0-8308-2719-0. OCLC 620836940.
[2] Conway, Colleen M. (2008). Behold the Man: Jesus and Greco-Roman Masculinity. Oxford University Press. p. 67. ISBN 978-0-19-532532-4. (citing Cicero, pro Rabirio Perduellionis Reo 5.16).
[3] Yev. 120b describes a method of confirmation for the dead of crucifixion by the presence of stray dogs—feeding on the flesh of the feet and legs, confirming their close proximity to the ground.