At Christmas we celebrate the coming of Jesus Christ. His work was not completed, however, until he went to the cross. That said, the crucifixion of Jesus Christ is still debated today. Skeptics have argued throughout time with various arguments, opposing the biblical story of the crucifixion. Did Jesus merely faint from exhaustion on the cross? Did he all of a sudden revive in the tomb, regain his strength, and depart on his own?

Often one does not closely examine the medical evidence when analyzing the crucifixion. Jesus, although in control, clearly demonstrated his humanity while in the garden when he prayed to the Father concerning what was ahead for him. Jesus knew the immense suffering that he would have to endure, physically and spiritually.

The psychological stress was tremendous.

The gospel of Luke says that the sweat of Jesus resembled blood. Blood in sweat is known as hematidrosis. It’s caused from severe anxiety that causes the capillaries to break down in the sweat glands giving a small amount of blood in sweat. Thus, this seems to be the condition of Jesus in the garden.

What was a Roman flogging like? A soldier would use a whip braided with leather thongs with metal balls and sharp bones woven into them. The whip would cut the flesh and bruise it at the same time. The back would become so shredded that part of the spine was sometimes exposed along with the ribs. The victim would commonly receive 39 lashes. The entire back, buttocks, and back of legs would be torn to shreds. Muscles, sinews, and bowels were open to exposure. Many people would die from this kind of brutal beating before making it to the crucifixion.

Typically, the victim would also suffer hypovolemic shock, caused by losing large amounts of blood. The heart races to pump blood that isn’t there. Blood pressure drops, causing fainting and collapse. Kidneys stop producing urine to maintain what was lost, and the victim becomes exceptionally thirsty, as the body craves fluid to replace the lost blood.

Historians are in agreement that Jesus survived the beatings; although, it’s clear that Jesus was in hypovolemic shock. That, in itself is significant, but how certain can we be that Jesus died on the cross? Roman soldiers knew when someone was dead. If a prisoner would escape a Roman soldier, the responsible soldier, would pay with his life. There was strong incentive to ensure anyone removed from the cross was dead.

Crucifixion is a slow, agonizing death by asphyxiation. The stresses on the muscles and diaphragm put the chest into the inhaled position. For the victim to exhale, he would have to push up on his feet so the tension on the muscles would be eased. Doing this would cause the nail in the feet to tear through against the tarsal bones. Continuation of this procedure was requisite in order to breathe. Exhaustion would eventually come, and then death.

Spikes that were used were 5-7 inches long, and commonly were driven through wrists and feet. The gospels say the hand, but the wrist was considered the hand according to language of the day. That means the spike would go through the median nerve which would make the pain excruciating. In addition, the victim’s arms would be stretched about six inches in length to the point of dislocation.

The victim’s breathing would go into respiratory acidosis, meaning that the carbon dioxide would dissolve in the blood as carbonic acid, causing acidity of the blood to increase. This leads to irregular heartbeats, and points to eventual cardiac arrest.

Hypovolemic shock would have caused heart failure, resulting in fluid around the heart and lungs. A soldier thrust a spear into the side of Jesus, and in the gospel of John, it’s recorded that blood and water came out. Most assuredly, medical evidence unequivocally shows that Jesus died on the cross.

Jesus was seen alive, then dead, and alive again. Numerous witnesses saw the resurrected Christ. Jesus Christ died on the cross, was buried, and resurrected in accordance with the scriptures.

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