Medical analysis of Jesus' crucifixion indicates that he probably died from shock because of blood loss and from an inability to breathe on the cross and that his death was hastened by earlier beatings.
"The extent and importance of the scourging is often overlooked or not apparent to most individuals," said Dr. William D. Edwards, a pathologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. "That was really quite important in terms of cause."
His study, co-written by a Methodist pastor and a medical illustrator, appears in the Journal of the American Medical Association (3-21-86). Dr. Edwards said the co-authors knew they would be regarded with skepticism, so " we tried to go to extreme lengths to get reliable data and let the cards fall where they might."
"Those crucified tended to survive between 3 to 4 hours and 3 to 4 days, so Jesus' death was on the short end, which suggests that his lashing was severe and his blood loss significant," says Dr. Edwards.
Previous researchers have suggested that accounts that say Jesus cried out in a loud voice and then died may indicate that his heart ruptured, but that is unlikely the study said.
"Jesus' death may have been hastened simply by his state of exhaustion and by the severity of the scourging," which led to blood loss and shock.
The fact that Jesus was too weak to carry his cross to the site of his execution supports this interpretation. He may, also, have suffered a heart attack.
The study's findings also addressed two controversies: a spear wound inflicted on Jesus by a Roman soldier during the crucifixion, and whether Jesus really died on the cross.
The flow of blood and water from the wound described in the New Testament indicates that the spear probably punctured Jesus' right lung and his heart, ensuring his death, the study said.
Most people say his death is "self-evident. It really isn't...There are a couple of arguments against the resurrection based on the case that Jesus did not die on the cross," but merely swooned and was later resuscitated. "This will put an end to this," Dr. Edward said.
Jesus hath now many lovers of His heavenly kingdom, but few bearers of His Cross. Many He hath that are desirous of consolation, but few of tribulation. Many He findeth that share His table, but few His fasting. All desire to rejoice with Him, few are wiling to endure anything for Him. Many follow Jesus unto the breaking of bread; but few to the drinking of the Cup of His Passion. Many reverence His
miracles, few follow the shame of His Cross.— Thomas a Kempis The Imitation of Christ.
Calvary was not new to God. It expressed the heart of God. As soon as there were men (and women) that sinned, hearts that broke, souls that despaired, God's great heart knew the cross that was from the beginning himself. This has been beautifully expressed in the book of Revelation where we read of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world (REv. 13:*). So the crucifixion is ever present in the heart of God. And the crucifixion is daily reenacted whenever sin and sadness flourish. And this too fills us with Godly sorrow and pulls us mightily into marvelous fellowship with God.—Mack Stokes, Major United Methodist Beliefs, p. 67.
There was a day when Thackeray was walking out the Dean road to the west of Edinburgh, Scotland, with three companions; and as they went, they passed a quarry and saw, standing out against the sky above it, a great wooden crane-just like a cross. Whereupon Thackeray stopped, pointed and murmured one word: "Calvary." Then they moved on, all suddenly grown silent and pondering deeply. —James S. Stewart
The state of Mississippi owes a little bit of money. To Europe. The only problem is that they had forgotten about the debt, which they defaulted on in '41. No, not 1941, 1841. It's a 146 year old debt that originally began as a mere $7 million, but with a century and a half of inflation now teeters at about $50 million. Mississippi is not the richest state in the Union, and would like to forget about the yellowing bank note the European bankers like to wave in front of their faces. State officials have learned one thing about this trying affair: "European bankers never forget."
This offbeat story reminds us of a spiritual truth. Unpaid debts always must be settled. God does not forget unsettled accounts any easier than the bankers do. The Bible teaches that all of us have a debt to pay for our sins. We can either accept Christ's payment on the cross, or pay it ourselves with a lot of painful interest.— Daily Bread
In Switzerland today there is a small mountain village nestled near a towering cliff. The village's name is St. Maurice, which is a name that one would expect for a small mountain village nestled near a towering cliff.
But this town's name has a history behind it that teaches a powerful truth about the cost of obedience. Maurice was a military commander for the Roman empire. The empire took great delight in persecuting the Christians, and Maurice's troop was given orders to direct a persecution.
Maurice did what he had to do. He handed his Roman insignia over to his assistant and joined his Christian brethren, and prepared to be martyred in front of the mountain cliffs. He was murdered, as were 286 others, and the village standing today on that spot now remembers his name.-- Francis Schaffer, How Shall We Then Live, p.32.
Rousseau said to Voltaire, "Socrates died like a man, but Jesus died like a God."
The world-renowned Scottish New Testament interpreter William Barclay commented:
"Sometimes Christianity is presented in such a way that it sounds as if God had to be pacified, as if He had to be persuaded to forgive. Sometimes men speak as if they would draw a picture of a stern, angry, unforgiving God and a gentle loving, forgiving Jesus.Sometimes men present the Christian message in such a way that it sounds as if Jesus did something which changed the attitude of God to men from condemnation to forgiveness. But this text tells us that it was with God that it all started. It was God Who sent His son, and He sent Him because He loved men. At the back of everything is the love of God."
In Elie Weisel's book entitled Night, there is a story about his experience as a prisoner in the Nazi death camp of Auschwitz. He writes:
"One day when we came back from the work detail, we saw thee gallows rearing up in the assembly place...three victims in chains were waiting and one of them was a sad-eyed youth of about 14 or 15...The SS seemed more disturbed than usual, for to hang a boy in front of thousands of spectators was no light matter...The nooses were placed around the three necks. 'Long live liberty', cried the two adults. But the boy was silent."
Elie Weisel said, "Someone behind me asked, Where is God? Where is he?'"
At the signal from the commandant, the chairs were tipped over and there was total silence throughout the camp. Elie Weisel said, "On the horizon, the sun was setting. We were weeping. Then we marched past the gallows. The two adults were dead, but the third rope was still moving. Being so light, the child was still alive. For more than half an hour he stayed there, struggling between life and death, and we had to look at him full in the face."
"Behind me," he said, "I heard the same man asking, Where is God now? Where is he?"1
And Elie Weisel quietly replied, "Here he is! He is hanging here on these gallows!"
American history records the building of a great transcontinental railroad that joined the United States by rail from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean. During its construction, financial failure overtook the promoters, and only with difficulty did they secure the funds to finish the railroad.
There was great enthusiasm when the work was resumed. The day came when the last rail was to be laid on the border between New Mexico and Colorado. It was planned to be a great event. A special order was sent to California for a laurel wood tie, and two silver pikes were ordered, one for Colorado and one for New Mexico. The governor of each state was invited. They were to drive the two silver spikes into the laurel wood tie, thus completing the construction and making a way of transportation from ocean to ocean. As the governors drove the two silver spikes into the laurel tie, the great crowd applauded and a telegraph wire bore the news with a flash to the entire world. It was a great accomplishment!
Lent is that period of time when we remember the spikes that were driven through Christ's hands and feet. It was a cruel and vile act. Yet God has turned man's evil into a great Divine accomplishment. By Christ's death sin is forever defeated and sinners are made right with the Father!