I am a high school student, and my assignment was to find intertextuality of the crucifixion of Christ and write a reflection about it.

I was surfing on the web, and found a poem called "Crucified" written by Kahlil Gibran. My interpretation of the poem is that the author is trying to convey that Jesus chose to get crucified "just for the sake of it".

Below is the poem:

I cried to men, “I would be crucified!”

And they said, “Why should your blood be upon our heads?”

And I answered, “How else shall you be exalted except by crucifying madmen?”

And they heeded and I was crucified. And the crucifixion appeased me.

And when I was hanged between earth and heaven they lifted up their heads to see me. And they were exalted, for their heads had never before been lifted.

But as they stood looking up at me one called out, “For what art thou seeking to atone?”

And another cried, “In what cause dost thou sacrifice thyself?”

And a third said, “Thinkest thou with this price to buy world glory?”

Then said a fourth, “Behold, how he smiles! Can such pain be forgiven?”

And I answered them all, and said:

“Remember only that I smiled. I do not atone—nor sacrifice—nor wish for glory; and I have nothing to forgive. I thirsted—and I besought you to give me my blood to drink. For what is there can quench a madman’s thirst but his own blood? I was dumb—and I asked wounds of you for mouths. I was imprisoned in your days and nights—and I sought a door into larger days and nights.

And now I go—as others already crucified have gone. And think not we are weary of crucifixion. For we must be crucified by larger and yet larger men, between greater earths and greater heavens.”

2 Answers 2


The poem had more than one message. "Crucified" is part of a collection of poems by Gibran "The Madman". Khalil Gibran was a great fan of Jesus Christ and celebrated him in many works including The Prophet. This poem, like many works of Gibran, is a celebration of the strength and eternal goodness of Christ, and a lampoon of our human hypocrisy.

  1. Substantially, it was Gibran's way of lampooning us humans for hypocrisy. We celebrate the death of Christ on Good Friday and put up showy ceremonies only to go home and forget about him. Listen to this from Gibran about the good Friday:

    Today, the Christian souls ride on the wing of memories and fly to Jerusalem. There they will stand in throngs, beating upon their bosoms, and staring at Him, crowned with a wreath of thorns, stretching His arms before heaven, and looking from behind the veil of Death into the depths of Life....

    But when the curtain of night drops over the stage of the day and the brief drama is concluded, the Christians will go back in groups and lie down in the shadow of oblivion between the quilts of ignorance and slothfulness.

  2. This comment also confirms Gibran's disdain for our hypocrisy and showiness with no genuine substance:

    Jesus came not from the heart of the circle of Light to destroy the homes and build upon their ruins the convents and monasteries.

The dialog with the crowd was a mockery of their hypocrisy of showing concern but not stopping the evil about to happen as they saw it.

  1. Gibrain was also celebrating Jesus strength but not in the way conventional Christian thinking sees it. He sees the death of Jesus as not a weakness or victimhood of a good one by the wicked, but a triumphant damning of the wicked by one who had completed a mission and was leaving anyway.

This excerpt from Gibrain tells it all:

Humanity looks upon Jesus the Nazarene as a poor-born who suffered misery and humiliation with all of the weak. And He is pitied, for Humanity believes He was crucified painfully.... And all that Humanity offers to Him is crying and wailing and lamentation. For centuries Humanity has been worshipping weakness in the person of the Saviour.

The Nazarene was not weak! He was strong and is strong! But the people refuse to heed the true meaning of strength.

The Nazarene was not weak! He was strong and is strong! But the people refuse to heed the true meaning of strength. . . He lived as a leader: He was crucified as a crusader; He died with a heroism that frightened His killers and tormentors. He was not a bird with broken wings; He was a raging tempest who broke all crooked wings.

He feared not His persecutors nor His enemies. He suffered not before His killers. Free and brave and daring He was. He defied all despots and oppressors. He saw the contagious pustules and amputated them.... He muted Evil and He crushed Falsehood and He choked Treachery.

  1. To him, Jesus was one of a continuous stream in time, of good spirits God sent as messengers to clean up a corrupt world and when done return back home to the better, eternal realm. This is a common belief in the Jew/Arab cultures from which Gibran comes. Gibran is from Lebanon, migrated to America with family in the 1800s. To him Jesus was not a victim of a wicked system but one of many messengers of God who came to deliver the good news for betterment of mankind but always get victimized by foolish mankind.

Jesus had done his job and it was time to go back home and that's it. So his death by whatever means was not to be judged by human standards of victimisation. It is not an atonement, sacrifice or our banal need to be praised! Listen to the last two lines of the poem you quoted:

“And now I go as others already crucified have gone. And think not we are weary of crucifixion. For we must be crucified by larger and yet larger men, between greater earths and greater heavens."

The import of all this is: the crucifixion is not to be taken in the carnal, ordinary, banal sense we humans have ascribed to it. It was a much more deeply fundamental phenomenon with a meaning far deeper than we mere canal, banal humans can comprehend. The ultimate message here is: the son of man is better, greater than we think!

You can get the full text of Gibran's comment on "The crucified (written on Good Friday)" in the blogpost the crucified (written on good friday) - kahlil gibran.


It's certainly an odd poem. It looks to me like he's trying to suggest that by crucifying Jesus, man gains independence and strength (perhaps by hardening their consciences or coming to a new realization about his nature). It also seems linked to that religion (someone comment please!) that believes men are destined to become gods.

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