“We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.” Romans 6:6
Crucifixion is a gruesome means of perfect torture with the express intent of slowly and painfully killing evil people. “Punishment” is a mild moniker for something as insidious as this ultimate form of capital punishment. Arguably you could make a case that in some extreme instances such an execution is warranted.
Probably the most famous victim of crucifixion is Jesus Christ. Did He deserve this dastardly death? Jesus was indicted with being “The King of the Jews”, a charge that led Pilate to issue the death penalty. At first glance, this seems extreme and groundless, but Jesus’ own people more than approved. How could sensible folks incite something so senseless?
Take another look. In all of history, there has never been another who has deserved the crucifixion more than Jesus. Granted, Jesus had absolutely no sins for which to be censured. He never once stepped out of line with God’s divine decrees.
He did, however, become the sum total of all wrong and evil and wickedness and sin that had ever or would ever occur from Adam and Eve till the end of this world.
The One who never once sinned became sin. Sin must be condemned. Sin must be punished. Sin must be purged from the community. Sin must be crucified because anything less would be too kind.
On the cross, Jesus Christ, the Son of Almighty God, the Lord of Creation, the Savior of broken sinners became sin. He became your sin. Your sins have not gone unpunished, rather they have been most severely scourged. Your sins have not been ignored, rather they have brought about the death and condemnation of Jesus Christ.
Because Jesus became my sins on the cross, I was crucified along with Jesus. My Baptism is the way God has chosen to bring me into the crucifixion of my Christ and Lord. My Baptism is my crucifixion into Christ Jesus and it has brought my old self to nothing. But the “new man” who has arisen with Jesus in Holy Baptism is most certainly something! I am a new creation in Jesus. Crucifixion could not keep Christ. It cannot keep me either! I am united to Jesus Christ’s crucifixion death AND His resurrection life!
“When the woes of life o’ertake me,
Hopes deceive, and fears annoy,
Never shall the cross forsake me;
Lo, it glows with peace and joy.”
In the Cross of Christ I Glory (Lutheran Service Book, 427)