Death by crucifixion isn't necessarily more physically painful than other ways of dying. I don't know how one would even compare degrees of pain and suffering leading up to death. But there is something specifically agonizing about the kind of Roman execution described in our text that is relevant to this Good Friday teaching. On a cross, life slips gradually away while the crowd watches. The victim drifts in and out of consciousness in front of and frequently with other people. The victim didn't just die. He or she knew death was coming. There was time for slow pain and reflection.
One of the most bitter features of Jesus death on the cross isn't often discussed. The people who gathered around the cross were cruel to Jesus while He suffered. It's one thing to suffer pain. It's another to be mocked while you suffer pain. We usually would choose to suffer pain - even sickness - away from other people.
We study the lives of people who suffered and died and were considered heros for their dying. That wasn't the case with Jesus. Nobody was with Him in His death. No one was sympathetic. No one supported Him or took His side. Whatever friends there might have been, for the most part, deserted Him.