Monday, April 14, 2014

9. How do we know Jesus didn't pass out on the cross & just revive in the tomb?

Passing out during crucifixion is like passing out while swimming. How long does it take to drown?

The big problem here is just that most people don’t know how crucifixion kills the victim. “On the Physical Death of Jesus Christ” was a JAMA article published in 19861 that looked into just this question. Here’s a quote from the paper's abstract:

“death resulted primarily from hypovolemic shock and exhaustion asphyxia”

Hypovolemic means low volume & in this case the phrase hypovolemic shock implies shock from massive blood loss due to the flogging & the nails. It’s the second phrase ‘exhaustion asphyxia’ that I want to focus on, though. It means the victim suffocates due to exhaustion. How can that be?

Sit up straight, put your hand on your stomach & take a deep breath in. What happens to your stomach? It goes in & your chest expands. Exhale & the stomach relaxes & comes back out. Now think about every picture you’ve ever seen of crucifixion victims. What do their stomachs look like? Gaunt & drawn in?

When the body is put on the cross, the victim isn’t given a proper pedestal to stand on. No, that would be too kind. Remember this is the process that coined the phrase excruciating pain. The weight of the body stretches out the stomach to a position corresponding to a deep inhaled breath. How does the person exhale to get another breath? He has to push up with his legs and/or pull up with his arms. Pulling up is really hard. Sometimes the body’s weight dislocates the shoulders. Not to mention the nails in the hands go thru the nerve we call our funny bone. There is also pain from pushing against the nails in the feet. Excruciating might be an understatement.

What happens when the victim stops struggling because he’s passed out from exhaustion, heart attack, shock or just plain whacked on the head? He quits breathing & suffocates. Let me phrase that another way. If the victim passes out for any reason at all, he suffocates in the amount of time it takes to drown.

Do we have any idea how long Christ was on the cross after he quit moving? I don’t have a video on my cellphone of a stopwatch ticking the seconds off, but I can give you an idea of the minimum and the maximum time he was out on the cross. Mark 15:33-37 says a darkness came over the land from the sixth to the ninth hour & that Jesus breathed his last at the ninth hour. My NIV Study Bible footnotes say that is from 12 noon to 3 pm, so he dies mid-afternoon around 3.

In John 19:31, the jews want the bodies down before Passover Sabbath starts at sunset, because work on the Sabbath is a no-no. When is sunset during Passover in Jerusalem? Around 6-7p from roughly March 20th to April 20th. Jesus could have been passed out on the cross for 3-4 hours. Undoubtedly the jews would have wanted him down the earlier the better, but the guards control when he is taken down.

Rush job? No problem, mack. When do youse guys need 'em down by? Sundown? Geez, they're still breathin' but we’ll try.  😕😟😒 You gots a problem with that, buds? 'Cause it could take all night, capeesh? Oh yeah, where's dat work order from Pontius says he's okay with dis?

The jews have to go ask Pontius Pilate for permission. The 2 other victims are still alive & their deaths have to be sped up, but it can't happen till they get back with Pilate's okay. How much red tape is there in the way of getting to Pilate & how much time does it take? I’d think it’s at least half hour if not an hour at minimum, but I’m not convinced it matters much. Here’s why.

After the guards get permission to kill the other 2, they don’t just lop off their heads with a sword. They use a big mallet to break their legs. Broken legs equals no pushing & breathing. Now they have to wait for them to suffocate. They don’t rush this either. Why?

There was this rule to encourage roman soldiers to be thorough when crucifying people. If the victim survived, the guards responsible got crucified as punishment. Nope, definitely taking our time with other 2. John 19:33-34 says it wasn’t necessary to break Jesus legs, but in the meantime they do put a spear into him. Once the other 2 are dead and gone, they take down the bodies.  It's not very likely they are going to give anyone CPR with their lives on the line. So again how long does it take for someone to drown? 5-10 minutes? Jesus had at least that much time passed out on the cross. If getting permission was slow, it was 30 minutes up to 3 hours. He had a headstart on the other 2 at suffocating too. He is really, really dead, when they take body down.

What is the simplest case you can make for the resurrection? Tell you in my next post.
  1. William D. Edwards; Wesley J. Gabel; Floyd E. Hosmer, “On the Physical Death of Jesus Christ”, JAMA, 255, 1455-1463, 1986.

No comments:

Post a Comment