The Crucifixion of Jesus from a Doctor’s Perspective

The physical trauma of Christ begins in Gethsemane with one of the initial aspects of His suffering the bloody sweat. It is interesting that the physician of the group, Luke, is the only one to mention this. Luke’s biblical account tells of Jesus suffering, “And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground” (Luke 22:44).

Though very rare, the phenomenon of Hematidrosis, or bloody sweat, is all documented. Under great emotional stress, tiny capillaries in the sweat glands can break, thus mixing blood with sweat. This process alone could have produced marked weakness and possible shock.

After the arrest in the middle of the night, Jesus was brought before the Sanhedrin and Caiaphas, the High Priest. One of the soldiers struck Jesus across the face for remaining silent when questioned by Caiaphas. The palace guards taunted Jesus 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 Praetorium of the Fortress Antonia. It was there, in response to the cries of the mob, that Pilate ordered Bar-Abbas released and condemned Jesus to scourging and crucifixion.

Preparations for the scourging are carried out. Jesus is stripped of His clothing and His hands tied to a post above His head. The Roman legionnaire steps forward with the flagrum in his hand. This is a short whip consisting of several heavy, leather thongs with two small balls of lead attached near the ends of each. The heavy whip is brought down with full force across Jesus’ shoulders, back and legs thirty-nine times.

At first the heavy thongs cut through the skin only. Then, as the blows continue, they cut deeper and 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 first produce large, deep bruises, which are broken open by subsequent blows.

Finally, the skin of the back is hanging in long ribbons and the entire area is an unrecognizable mass of torn, bleeding tissue. When it is determined by the centurion in charge that the prisoner is near death, 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 the provincial Jew claiming to be a king. They throw a robe across His shoulders and place a stick in His hand for a scepter. A small bundle of flexible branches covered with long thorns is pressed into the scalp of Jesus. 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 hand and strike Him across the head, driving the thorns deeper into His scalp.

Finally, the soldier’s tire of their sadistic sport and the robe is torn from His back. This has already become adherent in the clots of blood and serum in the wounds, and its removal just as the careless removal of surgical bandages, causes excruciating pain- almost as though He were again being whipped, and the wounds again begin to bleed. Jesus is then led off to be crucified. The heavy beams of the cross are then tied to His shoulders, and the procession of the condemned Christ, two thieves and the execution detail, begins it slow journey. The weight of the heavy wooden beam, together with the shock produced by copious blood loss, is too much. Jesus stumbles and lacerates the skin and muscles of His shoulders. Jesus tries to rise, but His human muscles have been pushed beyond their endurance.

At Golgotha, the beam is placed on the ground and Jesus is quickly thrown backward with His shoulders pressed against the wood. The legionnaire feels for the depression at the front of the wrist. He then drives a heavy, 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 beam is then lifted in place at the top of the posts and the titulus reading “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews” is nailed in place.

The left foot is pressed backward against the right foot, and with both feet extended, toes down, a nail is driven through the arch of each. As Jesus pushes Himself upward to avoid the stretching torment, He places His full weight on the nail through His feet. Again there is the searing agony of the nail tearing through the nerves between the metatarsal bones of the feet.

As the arms fatigue, great waves of cramps sweep over the muscles, knotting them in a deep relentless, throbbing pain. With these cramps comes the inability to push Himself upward. Hanging by the arms the pectoral muscles are paralyzed and the intercostal muscles are unable to act. Air can be drawn into the lungs, but not exhaled. Jesus fights to raise Himself in order get one short breath. Finally, carbon dioxide builds up in the lungs and in the blood stream, and the cramps partially subside. Spasmodically, Jesus is able to push Himself upward to exhale and bring in the life-giving oxygen. Hours of this limitless pain, cycles of twisting, joint-rending cramps, intermittent partial asphyxiation, searing pain, as tissue is torn from His lacerated back as He moves up and down against the rough timber.

Then another agony begins. A deep crushing pain deep in the chest as the pericardium slowly fills with serum and begins to compress the heart. The compressed heart is struggling to pump heavy, thick, sluggish blood into the tissues- the tortured lungs are making a frantic effort to gasp small gulps of air. The markedly dehydrated tissues send their flood of stimuli to the brain. Jesus gasps, “I thirst” (John 19:28).

Jesus can feel the chill of death creeping through His tissues. With one last surge of strength, He once again presses His torn feet against the nail, He straightens His legs, takes a deeper breath, and utters His seventh and last cry, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit” (Luke 23:46).

Apparently to make double sure of death, the legionnaire drove his spear through the fifth interspace between the ribs, upward through the pericardium and into the heart. Immediately there came out blood and water. We, therefore, have rather conclusive postmortem evidence that Jesus died, not the usual crucifixion death by suffocation, but of heart failure due to the shock and constriction of the heart by fluid in the pericardium.

Thus we have a glimpse of the manifestation of evil which man can exhibit toward man and toward God. This medical description of what Jesus endured on the cross is apt to leave you hopeless and depressed. How grateful you can be that, “He Did This Just For You” showing you a glimpse into what God did to win your heart.

By Truman Davis, M.D., M.S.
From Arizona Medicine, March 1965

A Plan to Read

D.L. Moody wisely said, “The Bible was not given for our information but for our transformation.” In order for the Bible to transform our lives, it must be in our lives.

I am inviting my church family and others who want to join me to read through the Bible chronologically via the YouVersion App Bible reading plan. Gain a better understanding of the order of biblical events and the historic context in which they unfolded. The One Year ® Chronological Bible gives readers a fresh look at the Bible. With the full text divided into 365 portions for daily reading it allows readers the opportunity to read through the Bible in one year.

Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko on Pexels.com

The Printing Press and the Bible

Even though you are reading this from a screen, we are all very familiar with printed books. In fact, we are so familiar that we often take them for granted. There was a time when books were reproduced by hand writing. This was a very tedious and long process. That all changed with the invention of the printing press.

Today (February 3), in 1468, Johannes Gutenberg died. He was the inventor of the printing press. The very first book he printed was the Bible. How great is that! On this day, I am thankful for how God used Johannes Gutenberg to continue to fulfill His promise to preserve His Word to all generations.

Psalm 12:7 “Thou shalt keep them, O LORD, Thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever.”

Easter Journey

As we approach this Easter, it is my desire to take a special online journey with you through the passion week of Christ beginning with the Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem. That will be the subject of my Palm Sunday message. You can join us for that message at watchGBC.com at 10:30am (EST). Monday through Friday, I will post a video right here on my blog, at watchGBC.com and at our Facebook page. These videos will track the events of the passion week and give a brief devotional thought. I hope this journey will encourage you and motivate your love for Jesus Christ.

Making Time For Revival

One of the highlights of the year for me is revival meetings. There is something very special about gathering together with other believers to sing, pray, be challenged by God‘s Word through preaching and to seek God for personal and corporate revival. I have found that not all believers see the need nor will take the time to engage in revival meetings.

Some wonder, “Why a revival meeting?” Don’t we already have enough to do in life? True! There is a lot on our calendars. We are busy. Home, work, sports, friends all have space on our calendars and then there are our devices that deceptively suck hours of our time out of our days. Some will say in frustration and excuse, “I just don’t have any time this week for revival, Pastor!” May I have a moment to challenge your thinking.

Ephesians 5:16 tells us “Redeeming the time because the days are evil.” Paul was encouraging believers, who lived in days that were against God, to buy back time from being wasted on temporal pursuits and invest it in what was truly, eternally important. More important than anything else in our lives, is our walk with God and that walk being revived (reset or refreshed…whatever the need). Who you are with God is more important than who you are with your family, your coworkers and your friends. Your walk with God is more important than any program, than any project or pursuit. When we walk with God as we ought, we are the best spouse, the best employee, the best friend and the best child. Everything flows from my walk with God. Perhaps that is why Solomon challenged his son to “Keep thy heart with all diligence for out of it are the issues of life.“ (Proverbs 4:23)

Make the time by setting aside things that are not as eternally important as your walk with God. If a few Facebook friends don’t get a like from you, will that really matter in eternity? If you miss a ball game, your favorite TV show or your child misses a sport practice, will it matter in eternity? If you miss some sleep in order to gather with other believers to be under the preaching of the Word, will you regret that in eternity?

No one has time, we all have to make time for what is truly important. Our walk with God and the preaching of God’s Word for revival is truly important.

Lessons from Ten Years

TEN

Sheila and I are celebrating our tenth wedding anniversary, and it is amazing to us how fast the time has flown. It literally seems like yesterday that we were getting to know each other, planning our wedding and honeymoon. Now we are looking back on a decade of marriage!

Today, as I reflect, I am reminded of the sweetness of a life following Jesus. I remember back to when marriage was a dream. God had to teach me a lot about waiting on Him. He taught me that if I would trust Him, He would intersect my life with the woman He created just for me. God did just that! I will never forget the day I first realized Sheila was the one for me. I saw a real, genuine, godly and fun loving young lady.  That was about twelve years ago now.  I have learned many lessons over these years. Here are a few of them.

  1. God is good all the time.
  2. God knows exactly what we need and can be trusted completely.
  3. Following God will always lead to the greatest blessing.
  4. Marriage is a journey—it keeps getting better as long as Jesus is the center.
  5. Any problem can be overcome with God’s help.
  6. Marriage is one of the greatest gifts God gives.
  7. God’s provisions are always on time and just enough.
  8. The Bible’s instructions can be trusted no matter what.
  9. Communication is one of the most essential keys to a harmonious marriage.
  10. Chocolate is always appropriate.