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Jesus, a Fraud, a Lunatic or the Messiah?

Resurrection: Hoax or History?

Pre-Resurrection, part 1

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a. Jesus’ Death

Could anyone survive the following consecutive atrocities?

i. Beaten savagely

Matt 27:26 “He had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified.” 

Roman floggings were quite cruel.  They usually consisted of 39 lashes, but often ended with more than that.  They used a whip of braided leather thongs interwoven with metal balls and pieces of sharp bone.  The metal balls would cause deep bruises and contusions, while the sharp bones would cut the muscles ruthlessly. Oftentimes the spine was exposed on someone’s back being flogged due to the deep sharp cuts. The beatings would be concentrated from the shoulders down to the back, the buttocks and the legs.

Eusebius, a third century historian described  floggings with the following words: “The sufferer’s veins were laid bare, and the very muscles, sinews and bowels of the victim were open to exposure.”

Many victims died by these floggings, before they even were crucified!  Jesus survived and experienced tremendous pain as he underwent hypovolemic shock, due to the large amount of blood lost caused by the flogging.

(Hypovolemic shock is defined as follows by the health central encyclopedia http://www.healthcentral.com/mhc/top/000167.cfm  “A form of shock; a condition where the heart is unable to supply enough blood to the body because of blood loss, circulatory failure, or inadequate blood volume.”)

ii. Unmercifully crucified

John 19:16-18 “So the soldiers took charge of Jesus.  Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha).  Here they crucified him, and with him two others-one on each side and Jesus in the middle.” 

Although undergoing tremendous pain and experiencing exhaustion, Jesus had to carry his own cross to the place of his execution.  Once there he was crucified.  He was laid down on the floor and his wrists were stretched out on a horizontal beam, where they were nailed. The nails were 5 to 7 inches long and had been narrowed to a sharp point at the end.  The spike would have gone through the median nerve, which is quite unbearable.  A new word was invented because of this: excruciating, which literally means “out of the cross”.

Then he was hoisted and the crossbar was attached to the vertical pole, and a spike was hammered through Jesus’ feet, causing a similar type of pain as mentioned above.

The consequences of a crucifixion were horrible: 

-         The arms were stretched out by about 6 inches in length

-         Both shoulders were dislocated

-         Pierced wrists and feet

-         In order to exhale, the victim had to push on his own nailed feet, tearing his own feet

-         A slow death through asphyxiation generally resulted

 iii. Pierced in the side and into the heart

John 19:31-35 “Now it was the day of Preparation, and the next day was to be a special Sabbath.  Because the Jews did not want the bodies left on the crosses during the Sabbath, they asked Pilate to have the legs broken and the bodies taken down.  The soldiers therefore came and broke the legs of the first man who had been crucified with Jesus, and then those of the other.  But when they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs.  Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus' side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water.” 

To speed up the death of a criminal hanging on a cross and to avoid crucifixion to be extended into the Sabbath day, the Jewish leaders insisted to have the legs broken.  This caused the impossibility to push up with one’s legs and asphyxiation resulted in a matter of minutes. However, Jesus was already dead when the soldiers approached him! Instead they pierced him from the side and into his heart.

A medical doctor named Samuel Houghton, a great phys­iologist from the University of Dublin, wrote the following concerning the physical cause of Jesus’ death:

“When the soldier pierced with his spear the side of Christ, He was already dead; and the flow of blood and water that followed was either a natural phenomenon explicable by natural causes or it was a miracle. That St. John thought it, if not to be miraculous, at least to be unusual, appears plainly from the comment he makes upon it, and from the emphatic manner in which he solemnly declares his accuracy in narrating it.

Repeated observations and experiments made upon men and animals have led me to the following results-When the left side is freely pierced after death by a large knife, comparable in size with a Roman spear, three distinct cases may be noted:

1st. No flow of any kind follows the wound, except a slight trickling of blood.

2nd. A copious flow of blood only follows the wound.

3rd. A flow of water only, succeeded by a few drops of blood, follows the wound.

Of these three cases, the first is that which usually occurs; the second is found in cases of death by drowning and by strychnia, and may be demonstrated by destroying an animal with that poison, and it can be proved to be the natural case of a crucified person; and the third is found in cases of death from pleurisy, pericarditis, and rupture of the heart. With the foregoing cases most anatomists who have devoted their attention to this subject are familiar; but the two following cases, although readily explicable on physiological principles, are not recorded in the books (except by St. John). Nor have I been fortunate enough to meet with them.

4th. A copious flow of water, succeeded by a copious flow of blood, follows the wound.

5th. A copious flow of blood, succeeded by a copious flow of water, follows the wound.

Death by crucifixion causes a condition of blood in the lungs similar to that produced by drowning and strychnia; the fourth case would occur in a crucified person who had previously to crucifixion suffered from pleu­ritic effusion; and the fifth case would occur in a crucified person, who had died upon the cross from rupture of the heart. The history of the days preceding our Lord's crucifixion effectually excludes the supposition of pleurisy, which is also out of the question if blood first and water afterwards followed the wound. There remains, therefore, no supposi­tion possible to explain the recorded phenomenon except the combination of the crucifixion and rupture of the heart.

That rupture of the heart was the cause of the death of Christ is ably maintained by Dr. William Stroud; and that rupture of the heart actually occurred I firmly believe…

(The apostle John recording a minutely detailed description of his observations at Golgotha. Houghton came to the following conclusion)

The importance of this is obvious. It (shows) that the narrative in St. John xix. Could never have been invented; that the facts recorded must have been seen by an eyewitness and that the eyewitness was so astonished that he apparently thought the phenomenon miraculous.”

Houghton, as cited in Cook, Frederick Charles, ed. Commentary on the Holy Bible. London: John Murray, 1878, p. 349-350.

iv. Testified dead

Soldiers risked to be put to death if they misdiagnosed someone who was not really dead and escaped.  Being experts in killing people, they knew without a doubt when someone was dead or not.  In Jesus’ case, as we have seen earlier, they pierced his side and into his heart making sure he was dead!  Even if he were just unconscious, this would have killed him on the spot!

v. Wrapped in spices

Moreover Jesus’ burial testified of his death!

John 19:38-40 “Later, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus.  Now Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly because he feared the Jews.  With Pilate's permission, he came and took the body away.  He was accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night.  Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds.  Taking Jesus' body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen.  This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs.” 

Samuel Chandler writes the following:

"All the Evangelists agree, that Joseph had begged the body of Jesus off Pilate; who finding from the centurion, who guarded the Cross, that He had been ... sometime dead, gave it to him…

The remarkable circumstance of wrapping up the dead body in spices, by Joseph and Nicodemus, according to the manner of the Jews in burying, is full proof that Jesus was dead, and known to be dead. Had there indeed been any remains of life in him, when taken down from the cross, the pungent nature of the myrrh and aloes, their strong smell, their bitterness, their being wrapped round His body in linens with a roller, and over His head and face with a napkin, as was the custom of the Jews to bury, must have entirely extinguished them. "

Chandler, Samuel. Witnesses of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. London: n.p., 1744, p. 62-63.

The apostle John’s descriptions were accurate. Without a doubt Jesus was dead!

John’s observations concerning Jesus’ death are clear, honest and up to the point.  We can agree with his statement of John 19:35 “The man who saw it has given testimony, and his testimony is true. He knows that he tells the truth, and he testifies so that you also may believe.”

vi. Possible objection:

-Has the use of nails in crucifixions been verified?

Absolutely. Archaeologists in 1968 discovered in Jerusalem remains of about thirty-six Jews who had died during the 70 A.D. uprising against Rome. One of them named Yohanan, had been crucified. A 7-inch spike was found still driven into his feet.  Small slivers of olive wood from his cross were still attached to the back of his body.

- Couldn’t it be possible that Jesus faked his own death and pretended to have been resurrected?

Remember the consequences of a crucifixion:

- The arms were stretched out by about 6 inches in length

- Both shoulders were dislocated

- Pierced wrists and feet

- In order to exhale, the victim had to push on his own nailed feet, tearing his own feet

- A slow death through asphyxiation generally resulted

Do you know of anyone being able to walk on pierced feet and dislocated shoulders with a bloodied back exposing its muscles and its spine?  Would that person look like a Saviour to you? 

Moreover imagine that person having to roll his own heavy stone sealing his own tomb and bypassing the soldiers guarding it without even been detected. (see Mat 27:62-66)

Impossible!  That person would not be able to even move!

Next Next

 

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