Now behold, there was a man named Joseph, a council member, a good and just man. He had not consented to their decision and deed. He was from Arimathea, a city of the Jews, who himself was also waiting for the kingdom of God. This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then he took it down, wrapped it in linen, and laid it in a tomb that was hewn out of the rock, where no one had ever lain before. That day was the Preparation, and the Sabbath drew near. And the women who had come with Him from Galilee followed after, and they observed the tomb and how His body was laid. Then they returned and prepared spices and fragrant oils. And they rested on the Sabbath according to the commandment. (Luke 23: 50-56).
Have you ever heard the absurd idea that Jesus didn’t die? Ahmadiya Muslims affirm that after the crucifixion, Jesus was alive and fled to India! You can read it in the Koran. In the 19th century some others suggested that Jesus only fainted on the cross because of exhaustion. They say that someone gave him a “potion” that made him appeared to be dead, but he woke up later, aided by the cool air in the tomb. Could this be true?
With the help of the excellent book, “The Case for Christ”, by Lee Strobel, we will look at the medical evidence to see if Jesus could survive such an atrocious death. My hope is that at the end, your faith will be strengthened. A word of caution, the descriptions are striking.
If you have followed this blog, you know by now that at Gethsemane Jesus suffered the well-known medical condition called hematidrosis, which caused him to sweat blood. This condition affected Jesus’ skin, making it extremely fragile.
Later, Jesus was flogged. Roman whips were made of braided leather thongs with metal balls and pieces of sharp bone woven into them. The balls caused Jesus deep bruises. As the flogging continued, the sharp bones would cut through the flesh severely. Roman punishment was brutal. The historian Eusebius describe it this way, “The sufferer’s veins were laid bare, and the very muscles, sinews, and bowels of the victim were open to exposure”. Many died before being crucified, just because of the flogging. So, what do you think so far? Was it possible for someone in this condition to survive? Well, some did. Let see what awaited Christ.
Jesus lost blood at a very rapid rate because of hypovolemic shock. His heart raced trying to pump more blood, but he had not enough, so His blood pressure dropped. This is what caused Jesus to collapse in His way to Calvary. His kidneys would stop producing urine to retain as much fluids as possible, and He became very thirsty. Do you remember Jesus asking for water on the cross? It was result of the hypovolemic shock. Jesus was in critical physical condition even before being crucified.
We’ve talked enough about Jesus crucifixion before, so, I won’t’ tell you much more. I don’t want you to faint on me! Nevertheless, there are some more details you need to know in order to draw your own conclusions. When the Lord finally arrived at Calvary, the Romans made him lay down and nailed His hands to the horizontal beam first. Nails between 5 to 7 inches long ended in a sharp point were driven through Jesus’ wrists. The images we have seen in movies of nails going through Jesus’ palms are just not real.
The nails went through the wrist, because otherwise the flesh in Jesus’ hands would tear and he would fall from the cross. The nails would crush the largest nerve of the hand, producing a pain so unbearable that it was necessary to invent a new word to describe it. That’s how the word “excruciating” was invented. It means “out of the cross”.
Since the vertical beam was permanently attached to the floor, the Romans raised Jesus (already nailed to the other beam), using ropes. Then, they would nail his feet too. Immediately both shoulders would dislocate and His arms would be stretched about six inches more!
Okay. I think this description which by the way is just part of what actually occurred; will give you a good hint about Jesus’ physical condition and His possibilities of survival. You can learn more reading Lee Strobel’s book.
All things considered, it was impossible for any man to survive such a punishment, as it is attested by the experts in the medical field. Jesus was definitely dead at the time of His burial. The question is, do you think He really rose again?
He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed. (Isaiah 53: 5)