The Suffering and Death of Jesus Christ

The Suffering and Death of Jesus Christ


Calvin Lashway

February 2008 Revised


For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me. In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me. For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death till He comes (1 Corinthians 11:23-26 New King James Version).


During the New Covenant Passover service, we proclaim Jesus’ death. If we’re going to proclaim His death, it’s important that we know something about that death. In this paper, will we examine Jesus’ final hours of suffering and death.


History of Crucifixion

We know that during His final hours, Jesus was crucified, but what exactly is a crucifixion? The first known practice of crucifixion was by the Persians. Alexander the Great and his generals introduced the practice to the Phoenicians, Egyptians, and Carthaginians. The Romans learned the practice from the Carthaginians and quickly became efficient and skillful at it. Overtime the Romans made several innovations and modifications in the method of crucifixion.1 They designed the act of crucifixion to slowly execute a person through torture while humiliating him. The Romans used crucifixion as a punishment and a warning to other potential lawbreakers.2 Rarely were Roman citizens crucified. This was an execution reserved for slaves, the lower classes, and the worst types of criminals. According to Christian tradition, the Romans crucified the noncitizen Peter, and beheaded the Roman citizen Paul, a tradition agreeing with the historical Roman practice of crucifixion.3


Types of Crosses

The Greek word for “cross’” is stauros, and the Latin word is crux. The word primarily means “an upright stake or beam, and secondarily a stake used as an instrument for punishment and execution.”4 When we think of the word cross, what usually comes to mind is an upright beam projecting above a shorter crosspiece.5 This is the form of the cross, which traditional Christian art depicts Jesus dying on. In fact, the Romans used five different types of crosses for crucifying people. It’s unknown which type they used for Jesus’ crucifixion. The five different types are:


     Crux Simplex - A single vertical stake I.6

     Crux Commissa - (St. Anthony’s cross) in the form of a capital T.7

     Crux Decussata - (St. Andrew’s cross) in the form of the letter X.8

     Crux Immissa - (Latin Cross) the traditional two beams t.9

     Greek Cross - Upright and lengthwise beams of the same length +.10


The Procedure for a Crucifixion

Scourging

“After a criminal’s condemnation, it was the custom for a victim to be scourged with the flagellum, a whip with leather throngs.”11 This whip usually had pieces of metal and bone attached to it, thus inflecting even more pain and damage on the body. It was the normal procedure for the Romans to flog the victim until his blood began to flow.12 “Roman scourging was so severe that victims often died under it. For one charged as Jesus was, with sedition, it would have been merciless.”13


Crucifixion

The following quotation from The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia describes the act of crucifixion:


As the next step in the process [after scourging] the victim carried his own cross-beam (if this form of cross was used) to the place of execution, where the upright stake had already been erected. Then on the ground he was fastened to the beam with arms outspread, usually by ropes, less commonly by nails . . . The beam and body were then lifted into place on the upright. A small wooden block (sedicula) or a wooden peg positioned midway on the upright supported the body weight from tearing open the wounds. Once the condemned was thus immobilized he was left alone, unable to attend to bodily functions, unprotected from inclement weather or flies, and, because the place of execution was usually some public street or prominent place, subjected to abusive words and mockery from passersby. Often the body was left to putrefy on the cross and become the prey of carrion birds to complete the utter humiliation. . . . It was not unusual for a tablet identifying the crime to be hung on the condemned as he went to execution site, then attached to his cross for all to see.14


Another source says that this small sign “was usually placed on a staff, carried at the front of the procession from the prison, and later nailed to the cross so that it extended above the head. This sign with its staff nailed to the top of the cross would have given it somewhat the characteristic form of the Latin cross.”15


The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia article continues:


The suffering of death by crucifixion was intense. In addition to exposure to the weather and insects (and sometimes animals), the body suffered from the intensifying damage of the wounds and from the stretching caused by the strained position. Some think that headache and convulsions added to the agony. The ultimate cause of death has been debated; generally it is considered the result of gradual suffocation brought about by fatigue. The length of this agony was wholly determined by the constitution of the victim and the extent of the prior flogging, but death was rarely seen before thirty-six hours had passed. . . Death was sometimes hastened by breaking the legs of the victims. . .16


Jehohanan

In 1968, archaeologists found evidence of a first century Judean crucifixion. Near Jerusalem they discovered the remains of a crucified young man named Jehohanan:


The method of crucifixion seems to have varied in different parts of the Roman empire. Secular writers of the time shrink from giving detailed accounts of this most cruel and degrading of all forms of punishment. But new light has been thrown on this subject by archaeological work in Judea. In the summer of 1968 a team of archaeologists under V. Tzaferis discovered four Jewish tombs at Giv’at ha-Mivtar (Ras el-Masaref), Ammunition Hill, near Jerusalem, where there was an ossuary containing the only extant bones of a (young) crucified man, dating from probably between AD 7 and AD 66, judging from Herodian pottery found there. The name Jehohanan is inscribed. Thorough research has been made into the causes and nature of his death and may throw considerable light on our Lord’s form of death.


The young man’s arms (not his hands) were nailed to the patibulum, the cross-beam, which might indicate that Lk. 24:39; Jn. 20:20, 25, 27 should be translated ‘arms’. The weight of the body was probably borne by a plank (sedecula) nailed to the simplex, the upright beam, as a support for the buttocks. The legs had been bent at the knees and twisted back so that the calves were parallel to the patibulum or cross-bar, with the ankles under the buttocks. One iron nail (still in situ) had been driven through both his heels together, with his right foot above the left. A fragment shows that the cross was of olive wood. His legs had both been broken, presumable by a forcible blow, like those of Jesus’ two companions in Jn. 19:32.


If Jesus died in similar fashion, then his legs were not fully extended as in traditional Christian art. His contorted leg muscles would then have probably caused severe pain with spasmodic contractions and rigid cramps. This could have contributed to the shortened time of his death in 6 hours, hastened doubtless by the earlier scourging. 17


James H. Charlesworth in Jesus within Judaism, writes about the discovery of Jehohanan, and what it teaches us about Jesus’ crucifixion:


The significance of this discovery [the remains of Jehohanan] for Jesus Research is obvious, even though we cannot conclude that Jesus was crucified in an identical manner. Three insights are important. First, we have a grim reminder of the horrors of crucifixion. There is wide agreement today that death would have resulted from a slow, excruciating process of asphyxiation. In order to breathe, the victim would have to push up with the legs in order to free the lungs from the weight on the chest from the upper torso. Jehohanan’s body on the cross was probably not upright; it had apparently been pushed up and twisted. It so, then the resulting muscle spasms would have caused unbearable pain. Second, if Jehohanan’s legs had been broken to prevent him from raising up to breathe, then death would have come swiftly to him and not after prolonged daily torture as was the case with Spartacus’ followers and Josephus’ friends.18


The Final Hours

We will now review Jesus’ final hours, starting with the conclusion of His last Passover and ending with His burial. Scriptural quotations will describe the flow of events. Intermixed with these verses, are excerpts from the article, A Physician Testifies About the Crucifixion by Dr. C. Truman Davis.19 Where he describes what Jesus physically experienced during His final hours.


The Passover service ends with a final hymn

Time: Tuesday night 9:00 pm20

Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.” And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. (Matthew 26:26-30, unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are from the English Standard Version).


Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane

Time: Tuesday night 9:30 pm - 12:30 am

Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, “Sit here, while I go over there and pray.” And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.” And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” [And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground. (Luke 22:43-44).] And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping. And he said to Peter, “So, could you not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Again, for the second time, he went away and prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.” And again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. So, leaving them again, he went away and prayed for the third time, saying the same words again (Matthew 26:36-44).


Dr. Davis’ comments:

But, of course, the physical passion of the Christ began in Gethsemane. Of the many aspects of this initial suffering, the one of greatest physiological interest is the bloody sweat. It is interesting that St. Luke, the physician, is the only one to mention this. He says, "And being in Agony, He prayed the longer. And His sweat became as drops of blood, trickling down upon the ground."


Every ruse (trick) imaginable has been used by modern scholars to explain away this description, apparently under the mistaken impression that this just doesn't happen. A great deal of effort could have been saved had the doubters consulted the medical literature. Though very rare, the phenomenon of Hematidrosis, or bloody sweat, is well documented. Under great emotional stress of the kind our Lord suffered, tiny capillaries in the sweat glands can break, thus mixing blood with sweat. This process might well have produced marked weakness and possible shock.


Jesus’ betrayal and arrest

Time: Wednesday morning 12:30 am

Then he came to the disciples and said to them, “Sleep and take your rest later on. See, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us be going; see, my betrayer is at hand.” While he was still speaking, Judas came, one of the twelve, and with him a great crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the elders of the people. Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “The one I will kiss is the man; seize him.” And he came up to Jesus at once and said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” And he kissed him. Jesus said to him, “Friend, do what you came to do.” Then they came up and laid hands on Jesus and seized him. And behold, one of those who were with Jesus stretched out his hand and drew his sword and struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his ear. Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place. For all who take the sword will perish by the sword. Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then should the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must be so?” At that hour Jesus said to the crowds, “Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs to capture me? Day after day I sat in the temple teaching, and you did not seize me. But all this has taken place that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled.” Then all the disciples left him and fled. (Matthew 26:45-56).


Jesus taken to the house of Annas, a former high priest

Time: Wednesday morning 1:00 am

First they led him to Annas, for he was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, who was high priest that year. It was Caiaphas who had advised the Jews that it would be expedient that one man should die for the people. Simon Peter followed Jesus, and so did another disciple. Since that disciple was known to the high priest, he entered with Jesus into the court of the high priest, but Peter stood outside at the door. So the other disciple, who was known to the high priest, went out and spoke to the servant girl who kept watch at the door, and brought Peter in. The servant girl at the door said to Peter, “You also are not one of this man’s disciples, are you?” He said, “I am not.” Now the servants and officers had made a charcoal fire, because it was cold, and they were standing and warming themselves. Peter also was with them, standing and warming himself. The high priest then questioned Jesus about his disciples and his teaching. Jesus answered him, “I have spoken openly to the world. I have always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where all Jews come together. I have said nothing in secret. Why do you ask me? Ask those who have heard me what I said to them; they know what I said.” When he had said these things, one of the officers standing by struck Jesus with his hand, saying, “Is that how you answer the high priest?” Jesus answered him, “If what I said is wrong, bear witness about the wrong; but if what I said is right, why do you strike me?” Annas then sent him bound to Caiaphas the high priest. (John 18:13-24).


Jesus taken to Caiaphas the high priest

Time: Wednesday morning 2:00 am

Then those who had seized Jesus led him to Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders had gathered. And Peter was following him at a distance, as far as the courtyard of the high priest, and going inside he sat with the guards to see the end. Now the chief priests and the whole Council were seeking false testimony against Jesus that they might put him to death, but they found none, though many false witnesses came forward. At last two came forward and said, “This man said, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to rebuild it in three days.”’ And the high priest stood up and said, “Have you no answer to make? What is it that these men testify against you?” But Jesus remained silent. And the high priest said to him, “I adjure you by the living God, tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.” Jesus said to him, “You have said so. But I tell you, from now on you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.” Then the high priest tore his robes and said, “He has uttered blasphemy. What further witnesses do we need? You have now heard his blasphemy. What is your judgment?” They answered, “He deserves death.” (Matthew 26:57-66).


Jesus is beaten

Now the men who were holding Jesus in custody were mocking him as they beat him. They also blindfolded him and kept asking him, “Prophesy! Who is it that struck you?” And they said many other things against him, blaspheming him. (Luke 22:63-65).


Dr. Davis’ comments:

After the arrest in the middle of the night, Jesus was next brought before the Sanhedrin and Caiphus, the High Priest; it is here that the first physical trauma was inflicted. A soldier struck Jesus across the face for remaining silent when questioned by Caiphus. The palace guards then blind-folded Him and mockingly taunted Him to identify them as they each passed by, spat upon Him, and struck Him in the face.


Peter denies Jesus

Time: Wednesday morning 3:30 - 4:30 am

Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard. And a servant girl came up to him and said, “You also were with Jesus the Galilean.” But he denied it before them all, saying, “I do not know what you mean.” And when he went out to the entrance, another servant girl saw him, and she said to the bystanders, “This man was with Jesus of Nazareth.” And again he denied it with an oath: “I do not know the man.” After a little while the bystanders came up and said to Peter, “Certainly you too are one of them, for your accent betrays you.” Then he began to invoke a curse on himself and to swear, “I do not know the man.” And immediately the rooster crowed. And Peter remembered the saying of Jesus, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly. (Matthew 26:69-75).


The Assembly of the Elders condemn Jesus

Time: Wednesday morning 5:30 - 6:00 am

When day came, the assembly of the elders of the people gathered together, both chief priests and scribes [. . . took counsel against Jesus to put him to death (Matthew 27:1)]. And they led him away to their council, and they said, “If you are the Christ, tell us.” But he said to them, “If I tell you, you will not believe, and if I ask you, you will not answer. But from now on the Son of Man shall be seated at the right hand of the power of God.” So they all said, “Are you the Son of God, then?” And he said to them, “You say that I am.” Then they said, “What further testimony do we need? We have heard it ourselves from his own lips.” (Luke 22:66-71).


Judas hangs himself

And they bound him and led him away and delivered him over to Pilate the governor. Then when Judas, his betrayer, saw that Jesus was condemned, he changed his mind and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders, saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” They said, “What is that to us? See to it yourself.” And throwing down the pieces of silver into the temple, he departed, and he went and hanged himself. But the chief priests, taking the pieces of silver, said, “It is not lawful to put them into the treasury, since it is blood money.” So they took counsel and bought with them the potter’s field as a burial place for strangers. Therefore that field has been called the Field of Blood to this day. Then was fulfilled what had been spoken by the prophet Jeremiah, saying, “And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him on whom a price had been set by some of the sons of Israel, and they gave them for the potter’s field, as the Lord directed me.” (Matthew 27:2-10).


Jesus appears before Pilate

Time: Wednesday morning 6:00 am

Then they led Jesus from the house of Caiaphas to the governor’s headquarters. It was early morning. They themselves did not enter the governor’s headquarters, so that they would not be defiled, but could eat the Passover. So Pilate went outside to them and said, “What accusation do you bring against this man?” They answered him, “If this man were not doing evil, we would not have delivered him over to you.” Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves and judge him by your own law.” The Jews said to him, “It is not lawful for us to put anyone to death.” This was to fulfill the word that Jesus had spoken to show by what kind of death he was going to die. So Pilate entered his headquarters again and called Jesus and said to him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus answered, “Do you say this of your own accord, or did others say it to you about me?” Pilate answered, “Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered you over to me. What have you done?” Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.” Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” Pilate said to him, “What is truth?” After he had said this, he went back outside to the Jews and told them, “I find no guilt in him (John 18:28-38).


Jesus sent to King Herod

But they were urgent, saying, “He stirs up the people, teaching throughout all Judea, from Galilee even to this place.” When Pilate heard this, he asked whether the man was a Galilean. And when he learned that he belonged to Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent him over to Herod, who was himself in Jerusalem at that time. When Herod saw Jesus, he was very glad, for he had long desired to see him, because he had heard about him, and he was hoping to see some sign done by him. So he questioned him at some length, but he made no answer. The chief priests and the scribes stood by, vehemently accusing him. And Herod with his soldiers treated him with contempt and mocked him. Then, arraying him in splendid clothing, he sent him back to Pilate. And Herod and Pilate became friends with each other that very day, for before this they had been at enmity with each other (Luke 23:5-12).


Dr. Davis’ comments:

In the early morning, battered and bruised, dehydrated, and exhausted from a sleepless night, Jesus is taken across the Praetorium of the Fortress Antonia, the seat of government of the Procurator of Judea, Pontius Pilate. You are, of course, familiar with Pilate's action in attempting to pass responsibility to Herod Antipas, the Tetrarch of Judea. Jesus apparently suffered no physical mistreatment at the hands of Herod and was returned to Pilate.


Pilate finds Jesus innocent

Pilate then called together the chief priests and the rulers and the people, and said to them, “You brought me this man as one who was misleading the people. And after examining him before you, behold, I did not find this man guilty of any of your charges against him. Neither did Herod, for he sent him back to us. Look, nothing deserving death has been done by him. I will therefore punish and release him” (Luke 23:13-16).


Jesus is scourged

But you have a custom that I should release one man for you at the Passover. So do you want me to release to you the King of the Jews?” They cried out again, “Not this man, but Barabbas!” Now Barabbas was a robber (John 18:39-40).


So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released for them Barabbas, and having scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified. And the soldiers led him away inside the palace (that is, the governor’s headquarters), and they called together the whole battalion. And they clothed him in a purple cloak, and twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on him. And they began to salute him, “Hail, King of the Jews!” And they were striking his head with a reed and spitting on him and kneeling down in homage to him (Mark 15:15-19).


Pilate went out again and said to them, “See, I am bringing him out to you that you may know that I find no guilt in him.” So Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, “Behold the man!” (John 19:4-5).


Dr. Davis’ comments:

Preparations for the scourging were carried out when the Prisoner was stripped of His clothing and His hands tied to a post above His head. It is doubtful the Romans would have made any attempt to follow the Jewish law in this matter, but the Jews had an ancient law prohibiting more than forty lashes.


The Roman legionnaire steps forward with the flagrum (or flagellum) in his hand. This is a short whip consisting of several heavy, leather thongs with two small balls of lead attached near the ends of each. The heavy whip is brought down with full force again and again across Jesus’ shoulders, back, and legs. At first the thongs cut through the skin only. Then, as the blows continue, they cut deeper into the subcutaneous tissues, producing first an oozing of blood from the capillaries and veins of the skin, and finally spurting arterial bleeding from vessels in the underlying muscles.


The small balls of lead first produce large, deep bruises which are broken open by subsequent blows. Finally the skin of the back is hanging in long ribbons and the entire area is an unrecognizable mass of torn, bleeding tissue. When it is determined by the centurion in charge that the prisoner is near death, the beating is finally stopped.


The half-fainting Jesus is then untied and allowed to slump to the stone pavement, wet with His own blood. The Roman soldiers see a great joke in this provincial Jew claiming to be king. They throw a robe across His shoulders and place a stick in His hand for a scepter. They still need a crown to make their travesty complete. Flexible branches covered with long thorns (commonly used in bundles for firewood) are plaited into the shape of a crown and this is pressed into His scalp. Again there is copious bleeding, the scalp being one of the most vascular areas of the body.


Pilate has doubts

When the chief priests and the officers saw him, they cried out, “Crucify him, crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves and crucify him, for I find no guilt in him.” The Jews answered him, “We have a law, and according to that law he ought to die because he has made himself the Son of God.” When Pilate heard this statement, he was even more afraid. He entered his headquarters again and said to Jesus, “Where are you from?” But Jesus gave him no answer. So Pilate said to him, “You will not speak to me? Do you not know that I have authority to release you and authority to crucify you?”Jesus answered him, “You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above. Therefore he who delivered me over to you has the greater sin.” From then on Pilate sought to release him, but the Jews cried out, “If you release this man, you are not Caesar’s friend. Everyone who makes himself a king opposes Caesar.” So when Pilate heard these words, he brought Jesus out and sat down on the judgment seat at a place called The Stone Pavement, and in Aramaic Gabbatha. Now it was the day of Preparation of the Passover. It was about the sixth hour. He said to the Jews, “Behold your King!” They cried out, “Away with him, away with him, crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “Shall I crucify your King?” The chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar.” So he delivered him over to them to be crucified (John 19:6-16).


The First Three Hours of the Crucifixion

9:00 am to 12:00 noon

Jesus led away to be crucified

And when they [the soldiers] had mocked him, they stripped him of the purple cloak and put his own clothes on him. And they led him out to crucify him [and he went out, bearing his own cross (John 19:17)]. And they compelled a passerby, Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to carry his cross. And they brought him to the place called Golgotha (which means Place of a Skull). (Mark 15:20-22).


Dr. Davis’ comments:

After mocking Him and striking Him across the face, the soldiers take the stick from His hand and strike Him across the head, driving the thorns deeper into His scalp. Finally, they tire of their sadistic sport and the robe is torn from His back. Already having adhered to the clots of blood and serum in the wounds, its removal causes excruciating pain just as in the careless removal of a surgical bandage, and almost as though He were again being whipped the wounds once more begin to bleed.


In deference to Jewish custom, the Romans return His garments. The heavy patibulum of the cross is tied across His shoulders, and the procession of the condemned Christ, two thieves, and the execution detail of Roman soldiers headed by a centurion begins its slow journey along the Via Dolorosa. In spite of His efforts to walk erect, the weight of the heavy wooden beam, together with the shock produced by copious blood loss, is too much. He stumbles and falls. The rough wood of the beam gouges into the lacerated skin and muscles of the shoulders. He tries to rise, but human muscles have been pushed beyond their endurance.


The centurion, anxious to get on with the crucifixion, selects a stalwart North African onlooker, Simon of Cyrene, to carry the cross. Jesus follows, still bleeding and sweating the cold, clammy sweat of shock, until the 650 yard journey from the fortress Antonia to Golgotha is finally completed.


Jesus’ crucifixion

And they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it. [There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, and Jesus between them (John 19:18).] And it was the third hour when they crucified him (Mark 15:23, 25).


And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And they cast lots to divide his garments. (Luke 23:34).


Pilate also wrote an inscription and put it on the cross. It read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” Many of the Jews read this inscription, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and it was written in Aramaic, in Latin, and in Greek. So the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, “Do not write, ‘The King of the Jews,’ but rather, ‘This man said, I am King of the Jews.”’ Pilate answered, “What I have written I have written.” (John 19:19-22).


Dr. Davis’ comments:

Jesus is offered wine mixed with myrrh, a mild analgesic mixture. He refuses to drink. Simon is ordered to place the patibulum on the ground and Jesus quickly thrown backward with His shoulders against the wood. The legionnaire feels for the depression at the front of the wrist. He drives a heavy, square, wrought-iron nail through the wrist and deep into the wood. Quickly, he moves to the other side and repeats the action being careful not to pull the arms to tightly, but to allow some flexion and movement. The patibulum is then lifted in place at the top of the stipes and the titulus reading "Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews" is nailed in place.


The left foot is now pressed backward against the right foot, and with both feet extended, toes down, a nail is driven through the arch of each, leaving the knees moderately flexed. The Victim is now crucified. As He slowly sags down with more weight on the nails in the wrists excruciating pain shoots along the fingers and up the arms to explode in the brain -- the nails in the wrists are putting pressure on the median nerves. As He pushes Himself upward to avoid this stretching torment, He places His full weight on the nail through His feet. Again there is the searing agony of the nail tearing through the nerves between the metatarsal bones of the feet.


At this point, as the arms fatigue, great waves of cramps sweep over the muscles, knotting them in deep, relentless, throbbing pain. With these cramps comes the inability to push Himself upward. Hanging by his arms, the pectoral muscles are paralyzed and the intercostal muscles are unable to act. Air can be drawn into the lungs, but cannot be exhaled. Jesus fights to raise Himself in order to get even one short breath. Finally, carbon dioxide builds up in the lungs and in the blood stream and the cramps partially subside. Spasmodically, he is able to push Himself upward to exhale and bring in the life-giving oxygen. It was undoubtedly during these periods that He uttered the seven short sentences recorded [in Luke 23:34; John 19:26-27; Luke 23:43; Matthew 26:46; John 19:28, 30; and Luke 23:46].


Casting lots for Jesus’ clothing

When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his garments and divided them into four parts, one part for each soldier; also his tunic. But the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom, so they said to one another, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see whose it shall be.” This was to fulfill the Scripture which says, “They divided my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots.” So the soldiers did these things, but standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home. (John 19:23-27).


Jesus mocked

And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads and saying, “You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.” So also the chief priests, with the scribes and elders, mocked him, saying, “He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he desires him. For he said, ‘I am the Son of God.”’ And the robbers who were crucified with him also reviled him in the same way. (Matthew 27:39-44).


Repentant thief

One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise” (Luke 23:39-43).


Dr. Davis’ comments:

Hours of limitless pain, cycles of twisting, joint-rending cramps, intermittent partial asphyxiation, searing pain where tissue is torn from His lacerated back as He moves up and down against the rough timber. Then another agony begins. . . A terrible crushing pain deep in the chest as the pericardium slowly fills with serum and begins to compress the heart.


The Last Three Hours of the Crucifixion

12:00 noon to 3:00 pm

Jesus’ death

Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” And some of the bystanders, hearing it, said, “This man is calling Elijah.” [After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), “I thirst.” (John 19:28).] And one of them at once ran and took a sponge, filled it with sour wine, and put it on a reed and gave it to him to drink. But the others said, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to save him.” (Matthew 27:45-49).


When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished.” (John 19:30).


Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this he breathed his last. (Luke 23:46).


Dr. Davis’ comments:

It is now almost over. The loss of tissue fluids has reached a critical level; the compressed heart is struggling to pump heavy, thick, sluggish blood into the tissue; the tortured lungs are making a frantic effort to gasp in small gulps of air. The markedly dehydrated tissues send their flood of stimuli to the brain. . . . The body of Jesus is now in extremis, and He can feel the chill of death creeping through His tissues. . . . With one last surge of strength, he once again presses His torn feet against the nail, straightens His legs, takes a deeper breath, and utters His seventh and last cry, "Father! Into thy hands I commit my spirit."


The Moffatt translation of Matthew 27:48-50

According to James Moffatt in his A New Translation of the Bible, Jesus died after a spear or lance was thrust into His side: "One of them ran off at once and took a sponge, which he soaked in vinegar and put on the end of a stick, to give him a drink. But the others said, ‘Stop, let us see if Elijah does come to save him!’ (Seizing a lance, another pricked his side, and out came water and blood.) Jesus again uttered a loud scream, and gave up his spirit" (Matthew 27:48-50). The marginal rendering of Matthew 27:49, in the New American Standard Bible has: “And another took a spear and pierced His side, and there came out water and blood.” The margins of both the Revised Standard Bible, and the New Revised Standard Bible, describe a similar spear thrust.


Dr. Davis describes the spear thrust, although he records it as happening after Jesus’ death: ". . . the legionnaire drove his lance through the fifth interspace between the ribs, upward through the pericardium and into the heart. The 34th verse of the 19th chapter of the Gospel according to St. John reports: ‘And immediately there came out blood and water.’ That is, there was an escape of water fluid from the sac surrounding the heart. . .”


Witnesses to Jesus death

And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split. The tombs also were opened. And many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many. When the centurion and those who were with him, keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were filled with awe and said, “Truly this was the Son of God!” There were also many women there, looking on from a distance, who had followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering to him, among whom were Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Joseph and the mother of the sons of Zebedee. (Matthew 27:51-56).


Jesus’ burial

Time: Wednesday late afternoon/early evening 3:00 – 6:00 pm

Since it was the day of Preparation, and so that the bodies would not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken and that they might be taken away. So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first, and of the other who had been crucified with him. But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water. [An alternative translation has: “But one of the soldiers had pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water had come out” (The New Testament in its Original Order – A Faithful Version with Commentary).] He who saw it has borne witness—his testimony is true, and he knows that he is telling the truth—that you also may believe. For these things took place that the Scripture might be fulfilled: “Not one of his bones will be broken.” And again another Scripture says, “They will look on him whom they have pierced.” After these things Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus, and Pilate gave him permission. So he came and took away his body. Nicodemus also, who earlier had come to Jesus by night, came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds in weight. So they took the body of Jesus and bound it in linen cloths with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews. Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid. So because of the Jewish day of Preparation, since the tomb was close at hand, they laid Jesus there. (John 19:31-42).


Conclusion

For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, "Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me." In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me." For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes. (1 Corinthians 11:23-26 (New King James Version).


In this paper, we have seen what the death of Jesus Christ entailed. This is what we proclaim each year during the New Covenant Passover.




Notes

1 Dr. C. Truman Davis, A Physician Testifies About the Crucifixion. http://www.konnections.com/kcundick/crucifix.html, accessed, February 17, 2008

2 "Crucifixion," The Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible, Abingdon Press, Vol. A-D, page 747.

3 "Cross, Crucifixion," The Illustrated Bible Dictionary Part 1, Inter-Varsity Press, Tyndale House Publishers, page 342-343.

4 "Cross, Crucifixion" The Illustrated Bible Dictionary Part 1, page 342.

5 "Cross; Crucify," The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Revised, Volume One A-D, William B. Eerdman Publishing, page 825-826.

6 Ibid., page 343

7 Ibid.

8 Ibid.

9 Ibid.

10 "Cross; Crucify," The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Revised, Volume One, page 825-826.

11 "Cross, Crucifixion," The Illustrated Bible Dictionary Part 1, pages 342-344.

12"Cross; Crucify," The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Revised, Volume One, page 829.

13 "Crucifixion," The Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible, Page 747.

14 "Cross; Crucify," The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Revised, Volume One, page 829.

15 Davis, A Physician Testifies About the Crucifixion.

16 "Cross; Crucify,” The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Revised, Volume One, page 830.

17 “Cross, Crucifixion," The Illustrated Bible Dictionary Part 1, pages 342-344.

18 James H. Charlesworth, Jesus within Judaism, Doubleday, 1988, page 122.

19 Davis, A Physician Testifies About the Crucifixion.

20 All times are approximations, and are based on the chronology set forth by Fred Coulter in his A Harmony of the Gospels In Modern English, York Publishing Co., Second Edition, 1976.

© Calvin Lashway 2017  -  Contact: cinfowritings@gmail.com