1. Supplementary Studies
Read the scripture and ask these questions: What is happening here and who is affected? What does this tell me about Jesus? What does this mean to me?
1g The Cross of Christ
To help us to understand the deep love that God has for each and every one of us - shown in the suffering of His son.
1. MATTHEW 26:36-46 - THE GARDEN OF GETHSEMANE.
1) Jesus doesn’t want to die.
2) Jesus is grieved, He’s in agony.
3) Jesus chooses God’s will - crucifixion.
2. MATTHEW 26:57-68 - JESUS BEING HUMILIATED.
1) False accusations.
2) Jesus is beaten.
3. MATTHEW 27:26 - JESUS BEING SCOURGED.
1) Whipped almost to death.
2) Back tom up to expose blood vessels etc.
4. MATTHEW 27:33-50 - JESUS BEING CRUCIFIED.
1) Hanging on the cross.
2) Hatred from the people as they hurl abuse.
3) Jesus separated from God (Psalm 22).
4) Jesus dead.
5. MATTHEW 28:1-20 - JESUS BEING RESURRECTED.
1) Sunday, first day of the week.
2) He’s risen.
3) Jesus has all authority.
4) Go make disciples.
5) Baptise the disciples.
6) Teach disciples to teach others.
We all must carefully consider the sacrifice that God made for us, then choose to follow him.
1h The Crucifixion (A Medical Perspective)
An article by C. Truman Davis, M.D., M.S.from -”Arizona Medicine” March 1965
“The Passion of Christ from a Medical Point of View”
In this paper, I shall discuss some of the physical aspects of the passion or suffering of Jesus Christ. We shall follow him from Gethsemane, through his trial, his scourging, his path along the Via Delorosa, to his last dying hours on the cross.
I became interested in this about a year ago when I read an account of the crucifixion in Jim Bishop’s book, “The Day Christ Died.” I suddenly realised that I had taken the crucifixion more or less for granted all these years, that I had grown callous to its horror by a too easy familiarity with the grim details and a too distant friendship with him. It finally occurred to me that as a physician I didn’t even know the actual immediate cause of death. The gospel writers don’t help us very much on this point, because crucifixion and scourging were so common during their lifetime that they undoubtedly considered a detailed description totally superfluous, so we have the concise words of the evangelists: “Pilate, having scourged Jesus, delivered him to them to be crucified, and they crucified him.”
I am indebted to many who have studied this subject in the past, and especially to a contemporary colleague, Dr. Pierre Barbel, a French surgeon who has done exhaustive experimental and historical research and has written extensively on the subject. The infinite psychic and spiritual suffering of the incarnate God in atonement for the sins of fallen man I have no competence to discuss; however, the physiological and anatomical aspects of the Lord’s passion we can examine in some detail.....what did the body of Jesus of Nazareth actually endure during those hours of torture?
This led me first to a study of the practice of crucifixion itself; that is, the torture and execution of a person by fixation to a cross. Apparently, the first known practice of crucifixion was by the Persians. Alexander and his generals brought it back to the Mediterranean world – to Egypt and to Carthage. The Romans apparently learned the practice from the Carthaginians and (as with almost everything the Romans did) rapidly developed a very high degree of efficiency and skill in carrying it out. A number of Roman authors (Livy, Cicero, Tacitus) comment on it. Several innovations and modifications are described in the ancient literature; I’ll mention only a few which have some bearing here. The upright portion of the cross (or stipes) could have the crooarm (or patibulum) attached two or three feel below its top – this is what we commonly think of today as the classical form of the cross (the one which we have later named the Latin cross): however, the common form which was used in our Lord’s day was the Tau cross (shaped like the Greek letter tau or like our T). In this cross the patibulum was placed in a notch at the top of the stipes. There is fairly overwhelming archeological evidence that it was on this type of cross that Jesus was crucified.
The upright post, or stipes, was generally permanently fixed in the ground at the site of execution and the condemned man was forced to carry the patibulum, apparently weighing about 110 pounds, from the prison to the place of execution. Without any historical or biblical proof, medieval and Rennaisance painters have given us our picture of Christ carrying the entire cross. Many of these painters and most of the sculptures of crucifixes today show the nails through the palms. Roman historical accounts and experimental work have shown that the nails were driven between the small bones of the wrists and not through the palms. Nails driven through the palms will strip out through the fingers when they support the weight of a human body. The misconception may have come about through a misunderstanding of Jesus’ words to Thomas, “Observe my hands”. Anatomists, both modern and ancient, have always considered the wrists as part of the hand. A titulus, or small sign, stating the victim’s crime was usually carried at the front of the procession and later nailed to the cross above the head. This sign with its staff nailed to the top of the cross would have given it somewhat the appearance of the Latin cross.
The physical passion of the Christ begins in Gethsemane. Of the many aspects of this initial suffering, I shall only discuss the one of physiological interest; the bloody sweat. It is interesting that the physician of the group, Luke, 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 attempt imaginable has been used by modern scholars to explain away this phrase, apparently under the mistaken impression that this just doesn’t happen. A great deal of effort could be saved by consulting the medical literature. Though very rare, the phenomenon of Hematidrosis, or bloody sweat, is well documented. Under great stress, tiny capillaries in the sweat glands can break, thus mixing blood with sweat. This process alone could produce marked weakness and possible shock. We shall move rapidly through the betrayal and arrest; I must stress again that important portions of the Passion story are missing from this account. This may be frustrating to you, but in order to adhere to our purpose of discussing only the purely physical aspects of the passion, this is necessary.
After the arrest in the middle of the night. Jesus was brought before the Sanhedrin and Caiaphas, the high priest; it is here that the first physical trauma was inflicted. A soldier struck Jesus in the face for remaining silent when questioned by Caiaphas. The palace guards then blindfolded him and mockingly taunted him to identify them as they each passed by, spat on him, and struck him in the face. In the early morning, Jesus, battered and bruised, dehydrated, and exhausted from a sleepless night, is taken across Jerusalem to the practorium of the fortress Antonia, the seat of the 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. It was then, in response to the cries of the mob, that Pilate ordered Bar- Abbas released and condemned Jesus to scourging and crucifixion.
There is much disagreement among authorities about scourging as a prelude to crucifixion. Most Roman writers from this period do not associate the two. However many scholars believe that Pilate originally ordered Jesus to be scourged as his full punishment, and that the death sentence by crucifixion came only in response to the taunt of the mob that the procurator was not properly defending Caesar against this pretender who claimed to be the King of the Jews. Preparations for the scourging are carried out. The prisoner is stripped of clothing and his hands are tied to a post above his head. It is doubtful whether the Romans made any attempt to follow the Jewish law in the matter of Scourging. The Jews had an ancient law prohibiting more than forty lashes. The Pharisees, always making sure that the law was strictly kept, insisted that only thirty-nine lashes be given. (In case of a miscount, they were sure of remaining within the law.) The Roman legionnaire steps forward with the flagrum (or flagellum) in his hand.
he flagrum (Figure 1) is a short whip consisting of several, perhaps nine heavy leather thongs with two small balls of lead, broken glass or sharp stones attached near the ends of each. The hemy whip is brought down with full force again and again across Jesus’ shoulders, back and legs. At first the hemy 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, glass or stones would first produce bruises which are then broken by subsequent blows. Finally the skin of the back is hanging in long ribbons and the entire area is an unrecognisable mass of torn, bleeding tissue. When it is determined by the centurian in charge that the prisoner is near to death, then 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 a king. They throw a robe across His shoulders and place a stick in his hand for a sceptre. They still need a crown to make their travesty complete. A small bundle of flexible long thorned branches (commonly used for fire wood) are plaited into the shape of a crown and this is then pressed into His scalp (Figure 2). Again there is copious bleeding (the scalp being one of the most vascular areas of the body.) After mocking him and striking Him across the face, the soldiers take the stick from his hands 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. This garment had already become adherent to the clot of blood and serum in the wounds, and its removal, just as in the careless removal of a surgical bandage, causes excruciating pain ..... almost as though He were again being whipped, the wounds would again open up and begin to bleed profusely.
In deference to Jewish customs, the Romans returned 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 the centurian, begins its slow journey along the Via Delorosa. In spite of his efforts to walk, the weight of the heavy wooden beam, together with the shock produced by the copious blood loss, is too much. Jesus stumbles and falls. The rough wood of the beam gouges into his lacerated skin and the muscles of His shoulders. He tries to rise, but human flesh has been pushed beyond its endurance. The centurian, anxious to get on with the crucifixion, selects a stalwart North Africa onlooker, Simon of Cyrene, to carry the cross. Jesus follows, still bleeding and sweating the cold clammy sweat of shock. The 650 yard journey from the fortress Antonia to Golgotha is finally completed. The prisoner is again stripped of His clothes - except for a loin cloth which is allowed by the Jewish officials.
The crucifixion begins. 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 is quickly thrown backwards with His shoulders against the rough 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 too tightly, but to allow some flexion and movement. The patibulum is then lifted into place at the top of the stipes. And the titulus reading “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews” was nailed into place.The left foot is pressed backwards against the right foot, and with both feet extended, toes downward, 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 wrist, excruciating, fiery pain shoots along the fingers and up the arms to explode in the brain. The nails in the wrist are putting pressure on the median nerves, as He pushes himself upward to avoid this stretching torment, grasping for air, He places His full weight on the nail so cruelly driven through His feet. Again there is the searing agony of the nail tearing through nerves between the metatarsal bones of the feet.
At this point another phenomenon occurs. 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 paralysed 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 gasp of breath. Finally, carbon dioxide builds up in the lungs and in the blood stream and cramps begin to partially subside. Spasmodically, He is able to push Himself upward to exhale and bring in the meagre amounts of life giving oxygen. It was undoubtedly during these periods that He uttered the seven short sentences which are recorded from the cross.
The first, looking down at the Roman soldiers throwing dice for His seamless garment, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do”.
The second, to the penitent thief, “Today you shall be with me in paradise”.
The third, looking down at the terrified, grief stricken, adolescent John, (the beloved apostle), He said, “Behold your mother,” and looking at Mary, His mother,“Woman behold your son”.
The fourth cry is from the beginning of the 22nd psalm. “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
Hours of this limitless pain, cycles of twisting, join trending cramps, intermittent partial asphyxiation, searing pain as tissue is torn from His lacerated back as He moves up and down against the crude timber grasping for precious breath. Then another agony begins. A heavy crushing pain deep in the chest as the pericardium slowly fills with serum and begins to compress the chambers of His heart.
Let us remember again the 22nd psalm and the 14th verse, “I am poured out like water, and all of my bones are out of joint; my heart is like wax, it is melted in the midst of my bowels”.
It is now almost over - the loss of tissue and fluids has reached a critical level, the compressed heart is struggling to pump heavy thick blood into the failing tissue, the tortured lungs are making a frantic effort to grasp in small gulps of air. The markedly dehydrated tissues send their flood of stimuli to the brain.
Jesus gasps His fifth cry, “I thirst”. Let us remember another verse in the prophetic 22nd psalm; “My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue cleaves to the roof of my jaw; and you have brought me into the dust of death”.
A sponge soaked in Posca, the cheap, sour wine, which is the staple drink of the Roman legion, is lifted up to His lips. He apparently doesn’t take any liquid. The body of Jesus is now in extremis and He can feel the chill of death creeping through His tired tissues. This realisation brings out His sixth sentence, possibly now little more than a tortured whisper. “It is finished”.
His mission of atonement has been completed. Finally He can allow his body to die. With one last surge of strength, He once again presses His torn feet against the nail, straightens His legs, takes a deep breath, and utters His seventh and final cry, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit”.
The rest you know. In order that the Sabbath not be profaned, the Jews asked that the condemned men be dispatched and removed from the cross. The common method of ending crucifixion was by crucifracture, the breaking of the bones of the legs. This prevented the victim from pushing himself upward; the tension could not be relieved from the muscles in the chest, and rapid suffocation occurred. The legs of the two thieves were broken, but when they came to Jesus, they saw that this was unnecessary. Apparently to make doubly sure of His 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 John states “And immediately there came out blood and water”. Thus, there was an escape of watery fluid from the sac surrounding the heart along with blood from the interior of the heart. We therefore, have rather conclusive post mortem evidence that Our Lord died, not the usual cruel crucifixion death of suffocation, but death by heart failure due to excessive shock and constriction of the heart by fluid in the pericardium.
Thus we have seen a glimpse of the epitome of evil which man can exhibit towards man, and toward God. This is not a pretty sight and is apt to leave us despondent and depressed. However we can be grateful that this one incidence does have a sequel. A glimpse of the infinite power and mercy of God towards mankind, the miracle of the atonement and the expectancy of the first easter morning.