Mormons believe that Jesus Christ lived and continues to live. They also believe in the Atonement, Crucifixion, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ that has enabled mankind to repent of their sins and be resurrected.
Crucifixion, common during the time period of the New Testament, was one of the most cruel forms of execution used by the Romans. The person being crucified was usually scourged first, whipped with leather thongs tied with pieces of flesh-tearing metal.
The person was then forced to carry his cross to the execution site. The clothing of the person was most often taken by the soldiers who would execute him. The person’s hands and feet were then tied or nailed to the cross. The cross was then driven into the ground so that the person’s feet were only one or two feet above the ground. This type of execution could take as long as three days to kill the victim, and sometimes the guards would break the legs of the prisoner to speed up the process. People that were hung on a cross usually died of asphyxiation.
Jesus Christ’s imprisonment and crucifixion was in nearly every way illegal. Christ was arrested at night. His trial with the Sanhedrin did not include all of its members and was not conducted in its proper place or time. The court was held before morning sacrifice and on a holy day, which was also illegal. Christ was denied a “friend in court,” one of the mandates of the Law of Moses, had improper witnesses, and the testimony of the Chief Priest, which was also illegal. In addition anyone that was convicted by total agreement, was given a retrial.
When the voice of the people asked that Jesus Christ be crucified, He had already been beaten, humiliated, and whipped. Former President of the Mormon Church Spencer W. Kimball spoke of the Savior’s reaction to these events: “In quiet, restrained, divine dignity he stood when they cast their spittle in his face. He remained composed. Not an angry word escaped his lips. They slapped his face and beat his body. Yet he stood resolute, unintimidated.”
Jesus Christ was then made to carry the cross. He was weak, especially since He had already suffered in Gethsemane, and could not carry it, so Simon of Cyrenia carried it for him. Spencer W. Kimball further explained what happened:
”The nails are hammered into his hands and feet, through soft and quivering flesh. The agony increases. The cross is dropped in the hole; the flesh tears. What excruciating pain! Then new nails are placed in the wrist to make sure that the body will not fall to the ground and recover. And now they taunt him again: ‘He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him’ (Matthew 27:42). What a temptation it must have been for the Lord who could have stepped down whole and well without scars or bruises! What a challenge it must have been, yet he had set his mind and had sweat great drops of blood in his anguish as he faced his mission-to move forward through all gross indignities and meet death at the end, to bring life to these very men and their children, if they would heed.”
Even in agony Jesus Christ said, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). Christ died, having remained perfect, fulfilling his mission. Jesus Christ’s crucifixion was an essential part of His mission. In John 10:17-18, Christ said to the Roman leader Pilate “I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again.” For Jesus Christ to freely give of His life was essential to our being saved from death.