Parental Guidance Warning – Graphic description of Christ’s death.
The central story of the Gospels is the death and resurrection of Jesus. But what if He faked His death as many people say? Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15:12-19, "But tell me this–since we preach that Christ rose from the dead, why are some of you saying there will be no resurrection of the dead? For if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ was not raised, then all our preaching is useless, and your trust in God is useless. And we apostles would all be lying about God, for we have said that God raised Christ from the grave, but that can’t be true if there is no resurrection of the dead. If there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then your faith is useless, and you are still under condemnation for your sins. In that case, all who have died believing in Christ have perished! And if we have hope in Christ only for this life, we are the most miserable people in the world." (NLT)
After stating the above Paul says the following in verse 20, "But the fact is that Christ has been raised from the dead. He has become the first of a great harvest of those who will be raised to life again"
Earlier in 1 Corinthians 15 Paul said this; "Now let me remind you, dear brothers and sisters, of the Good News I preached to you before. You welcomed it then and still do now, for your faith is built on this wonderful message. And it is this Good News that saves you if you firmly believe it–unless, of course, you believed something that was never true in the first place. I passed on to you what was most important and what had also been passed on to me–that Christ died for our sins, just as the Scriptures said. He was buried, and he was raised from the dead on the third day, as the Scriptures said. He was seen by Peter and then by the twelve apostles. After that, he was seen by more than five hundred of his followers] at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died by now. Then he was seen by James and later by all the apostles. Last of all, I saw him, too."
Did Jesus really die on the cross? Was His death faked? Let’s look at the medical evidence. In Lee Strobel’s book The Case for Christ he interviews Dr. Robert J. Stein and Alexander Metherell, M.D., PH.D. In these interviews some facts that only medical doctors could see surface.
The torture that would end on the cross actually began in the garden of Gethsemane. The Bible says in Luke 22:41-44; "And He was withdrawn from them about a stone’s throw, and He knelt down and prayed, saying, "Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done." Then an angel appeared to Him from heaven, strengthening Him. And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly. Then His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground."
There is a medical condition called hematdrosis. It is a condition associated with a very high degree of psychological stress. What happens is that severe anxiety causes the release of chemicals that break down small blood vessels in the sweat glands. As a result there is a small amount of bleeding occurs and the sweat comes out tinged with blood. It also has the effect of making the person’s skin extremely fragile so that when Jesus was flogged by the Roman soldier His skin would have been very, very sensitive.
Roman flogging was very brutal and though the sentence given was usually 39 lashes, the prisoner frequently received more depending on the mood of the soldier giving out the punishment. They would use a whip of braided leather thongs with metal balls woven into them. When the whip would strike the flesh, these balls would cause deep bruises or contusions, which would break open with further blows. And the whip had pieces of sharp bone as well, which would cut the flesh severely. The back would be so shredded that part of the spine was sometimes exposed by very deep cuts.
One physician who has studied Roman beatings said, " As the flogging continued, the lacerations would tear into the skeletal muscles and produce quivering ribbons of bleeding flesh." A historian by the name Eusebius who lived in the third century described it saying. "The sufferer’s veins were laid bare and the insides of his body were laid open to exposure"
Many people were known to have died from a beating like this before they were crucified. At the very least the person would suffer a tremendous amount of pain and go into hypovolemic shock which is a condition brought on by loss of a large amount of blood.
Because of the terrible effects of the beating Jesus received there is no question that Jesus was already in a critical condition even before the nails were driven through His hands and feet.
After He arrived at Golgotha, they bound Him to a cross. They fastened him to it by driving spikes that were 5 to 7 inches long through His wrists just below the palms. This is where the median nerve runs. This is the largest nerve going into the hand and it would have been crushed by the spike. The pain that this would have produced would be like someone taking a pair of pliers and squeezing and crushing that nerve. Imagine the pain of a dentist accidently hitting a nerve in your mouth but instead of the pain leaving, it stays. He was then hoisted up and spikes were driven through His feet, producing the same pain He received in His hands. This is just the beginning of what He suffered. Next because of the weight of His body on the cross His arms would have stretched and His shoulders would have become dislocated.
Crucifixion is essentially an agonizingly slow death by asphyxiation. The reasons for this is that the stresses on the muscles and diaphragm put the chest into an inhaled position and to exhale the person must push up on his feet so that the tension on the muscles would be eased for a moment. Each breath was complete agony. Every time the person would struggle to breath their battered back and spine would rub against the rough wood of the cross and the spikes would tear deeper into their flesh. Eventually exhaustion would set in and they would go into a condition called respiratory acidosis. This eventually leads to an irregular heartbeat and to finally a heart attack. This is the manner in which Jesus died.
How do we know He actually died and didn’t faint? When a person dies their blood stops flowing and in Jesus case because of the hypovolemic shock which contributed to the rapid heartbeat and failure, there was a collection of fluid in the membrane around the heart and as well as the lungs. So when the Roman soldier thrust the spear into Jesus side blood and water flowed out. This can only occur if a person’s heart has stopped beating and is dead.
Jesus died in a way that exacted the most pain that a human being could endure and He did it all with you in mind. Jesus was not killed, He gave His life willingly and became the ultimate sacrifice bridging the gap that sin had made between us and God.
But He didn’t stay dead. Christ is risen! He is risen Indeed!
Coming; Part 6 – His resurrection from the dead.