Although we may directly say "Jesus died on the cross," this is an oversimplification of the medical details and processes which led to the death of Jesus of Nazareth. Here. we seek to further examine the death of Jesus Christ. Be forewarned that we will be examining this in detail, much like Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ was centered around the death of Jesus. Medical experts, archaeologists, theologians, and historians alike have examined the death of Christ in detail, and agree that he suffered one of the most agonizing deaths a human can endure. It began in the garden of Gethsemane. Jesus went there to pray with a few of His disciples, who fell asleep despite mere hours before having claimed that they would do anything to protect him. Knowing what lie ahead, Jesus began to sweat profusely, and was deeply stressed. According to Dr. Luke, "And being in anguish, He prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground." (Luke 22:44) Here, tiny blood vessels ruptured within Jesus' sweat glands, and emitted red drops that fell to the ground. This is a known medical symptom, called hematohidrosis. (Photo credit: Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ starring James Caviezel as Jesus Christ)
Alexander Metherell, M.D., Ph.D., in The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel, states the following, "What happens is that severe anxiety causes the release of chemicals that break down the capillaries in the sweat glands. As a result, there's a small amount of bleeding into these glands, and the sweat comes out tinged with blood. We're not talking about a lot of blood; it's just a very, very small amount... What this did was set up the skin to be extremely fragile so that when Jesus was flogged by the Roman soldier the next day, his skin would be very, very sensitive." By this time, Jesus was severely in danger of going into shock, and could die unless given fluids, which he clearly was not. Soon after, he was arrested by the Romans. He was taken to the Jews, who spit on him and beat him. When it came time for the Romans to handle him, Jesus was flogged. Romans were known to be brutal in their torture - they knew their trade. They made sure that the whips would leave deep lacerations on the body, cutting the body with each strike. One of the tools used in flogging was designed specifically to tear large chunks of flesh off of the body. Many people did not live through flogging to be crucified.
As noted by John Mattingly, "The adjudged criminal was usually first forcefully stripped of his clothes, and then tied to a post or pillar in the tribunal. Then the awful and cruel scourging was administered by the lictors or scourgers. Although the Hebrews limited their law to a number of strokes in a scourging to forty, the Romans set no such limitation; and the victim was at the mercy of his scourgers... The brutal instrument used to scourge the victim was called a flagrum... It can readily be seen that the long, lashing pieces of bone and metal would greatly lacerate human flesh." According to medical experts, by this time, the floggings would have caused fluid build up in Christ's lungs. Coupled with the crown of thorns thrust upon Jesus' head, which was likely made of thorny nabk found around Jerusalem, the pain would have been enough to kill a man. The crown of thorns digging into His scalp would have caused excruciating pain that would likely irritate nerves and increase the pain as the hours dragged on. By now, Jesus was bleeding all over, had thorns stuck on His head, was deeply stressed, was losing fluids fast, and had gone without nourishment for several hours. In this condition, after Pilate's decision to have Jesus crucified, He was forced to carry His own cross. Simon of Cyrene was seized and helped Jesus carry the cross the remainder of the way. (Matthew 27:32; Mark 15:21; Luke 23:26)
As conveyed by Paul S. Taylor, "Hung completely naked before the crowd, the pain and damage caused by crucifixion were designed to be so devilishly intense that one would continually long for death, but could linger for days with no relief. According to Dr. Frederick Zugibe, piercing of the median nerve of the hands with a nail can cause pain so incredible that even morphine won't help, “severe, excruciating, burning pain, like lightning bolts traversing the arm into the spinal cord.” Rupturing the foot's plantar nerve with a nail would have a similarly horrible effect. Furthermore, the position of the body on a cross is designed to make it extremely difficult to breathe."
|James Caviezel as Jesus Christ|
Matthew 27:45-53 conveys, "From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over all the land. About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, 'Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?' (which means, 'My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?'). When some of those standing there heard this, they said, 'He's calling Elijah.' Immediately one of them ran and got a sponge. He filled it with wine vinegar, put it on a staff, and offered it to Jesus to drink. The rest said, 'Now leave him alone. Let's see if Elijah comes to save him.' And when Jesus cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. They came out of the tombs after Jesus' resurrection and went into the holy city and appeared to many people."
Jesus died a painful, stressful, excruciating death. Crucifixion itself was not first employed by the Romans, but by the Persians, and later adopted by the Egyptians, Carthaginians, and Romans. Crucifixion was designed to provide a death that was not merely humiliating, but also extremely long and painful. One example of a mass crucifixion occurred in 71 BC, as Roman historians tell us. Spartacus and his men (rebel slaves) were captured by the authorities, and approximately 6000 were crucified on both sides of what is known as the Appian Way. Unlike what happened with Jesus, however, their bodies were left up for display, to rot and to be a visible sign for any future slave rebellions.
"James Thompson believed that Jesus did not die from exhaustion, the beatings or the 3 hours of crucifixion, but that he died from agony of mind producing rupture of the heart. His evidence comes from what happened when the Roman soldier pierced Christ's left side. The spear released a sudden flow of blood and water (John 19:34). Not only does this prove that Jesus was already dead when pierced, but Thompson believes it is also evidence of cardiac rupture. Respected physiologist Samuel Houghton believed that only the combination of crucifixion and rupture of the heart could produce this result." It is important to note that Jesus died of His own will. He allowed Himself to die, that final moment did not come about by exhaustion, nor pain, nor emotional or mental stress, but by His own will. For Christians, the death of Jesus symbolizes the reconciliation of the broken relationship between God and man, and the opening of the way to new life through him.
 Strobel, Lee. The Case For Christ. 1st ed. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 1998. 195. Print.
 Mattingly, John P. Crucifixion: Its Origin and Application to Christ. Unpublished Th. M. Thesis: Dallas Theological Seminary, May 1961.
 Taylor, Paul S. "How did Jesus Christ die?." Christian Answers Network. Christian Answers Network, 2003. Web. 20 Apr 2011.
 Farrar, Frederick W. The Life of Christ. Dutton, Dovar: Cassell and Co., 1897. Print.
 Stan Campbell, et. al, . "Jesus: Phenomena Surrounding the Crucifixion." American Bible Societ Presents: Inside the Mysteries of The Bible. 2010: 63. Print.
 Ibid, .