NEW!!! How Jesus Died…

When we say “Jesus died for me”, how often do we stop to think about EXACTLY what that death was like? When my dear friend sent me an e-mail about the actual physical process that Jesus went through in dying on the cross for MY, for OUR sins, I really stopped to think about this and decided to do a little research.

(Much of what you see here is taken from an incredible website that I found, The-Crucifixion.Org, which provided me with the majority of the descriptive text and pictures/diagrams.)

From the Journal of The American Medical Association…

Jesus of Nazareth underwent Jewish and Roman trials; was flogged and was sentenced to death by crucifixion. The scourging produced deep stripelike lacerations and appreciable blood loss and it probably set the stage for hypovolemic shock as evidenced by the fact that Jesus was too weakened to carry the crossbar (patibulum) to Golgotha. At the site of crucifixion his wrists were nailed to the patibulum and after the patibulum was lifted onto the upright post (stipes) his feet were nailed to the stipes. The major pathophysiologic effect of crucifixion was an interference with normal respirations. Accordingly death resulted primarily from hypovolemic shock and exhaustion asphyxia. Jesus death was ensured by the thrust of a soldiers spear into his side. Modern medical interpretation of the historical evidence indicates that Jesus was dead when taken down from the cross.
(JAMA 1986;255:1455-1463)

(Please be aware, the following is VERY graphic!! Diagrams included are very intense)

Before the Crucifixion – Scourging…

Preceding the actual crucifixion process, Jesus was scourged. This was NOT a “simple whipping”. The Romans used a specially constructed instrument, a short whip called a flagrum or flagellum to which was attached several braided leather thongs of variable lengths. Knots were tied in the ends of each thong, and sheep bone or iron balls were inserted into the knots at the end of each thong.

The person to be scourged is stripped of his clothing and his hands are tied to a post. Roman soldiers repeatedly strike the victim’s back, buttocks and legs with their full force causing deep contusions. Lacerations from repeated blows cut into the underlying muscles and rip the overlaying skin of the back to a point where it hangs in ribbons of bleeding flesh. The capillaries and veins were often torn causing intense bleeding and at times leaving the entrails exposed. Even once the victim fainted, if the lictors could feel a pulse and detect sufficient respiration, the beating would continue. Once the centurion in charge determined that the prisoner is near death, the beating is halted.

According to Jewish law the prisoner was to receiver no 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 an error occurred during counting.(*Deuteronomy 25:3) The Roman law did not have any set limit on the number of blows which could be administered.

The object of the scourging was to weaken the victim to a state of collapse and bring them as near to death as possible without killing them. Many did not survive this punishment and it was given the name “half death.” The extent of blood loss may well have determined how long the victim would survive on the cross.

*(Deuteronomy 25: 2-3) If the latter deserves stripes the judge shall have him lie down and in his presence receive the number of stripes his guilt deserves. Forty stripes may be given him, but no more; lest, if he were beaten with more stripes than these, your kinsman should be looked upon as disgraced because of the severity of the beating.

Jesus, stripped of his clothing, his back, buttocks and legs exposed, his face against the upright post, hands tied above his head is now considered primed and the flogging can begin. The soldier comes forward, his gazed fixed upon Jesus, who is silent and appears to be in deep contemplation as he awaits the punishment. The soldier takes a step back and raises the flagrum over his head in preparation for the first blow. A whistling and cracking sound can be heard as the whip with its’ metal and bone tips is released with all the force the soldier has. The whip lands upon the naked back, sending waves of pain coursing through the body.

The legionaries, having no restraint, lash out with the whip full force, again and again across Jesus’ shoulders, back, buttocks, and legs. At each stroke of the whip, a painful shudder can be seen as waves of never ending pain shoot through his body. His back is now a mass of livid marks and blue, purple bruises show beneath the skin. (1 Peter 2:24)

The mass of observers attending the flogging who had condemned Jesus to death stood by cheering, shouting encouragement to the legionaries, taking pleasure in the spectacle before them. Their delight is obvious as flesh is literally stripped from Jesus’ body.

Encouraged by the crowds, the blows continue, cutting deeper and deeper into the tissues, blood begins to ooze from capillaries and veins of the skin until finally arterial bleeding from vessels in the underlying muscles occurs. The blood pours out; shreds of skin become detached, hanging in ribbons. The entire area of Jesus back has become an unrecognizable mass of torn flesh, deep groves caused by the iron balls, exposing a bloody mass of muscle, bone and tissue.(Isaiah 52:14) Blood flows freely down his body forming a deep red pool at his feet and surrounding area. His whole body trembles with shivers running down his spine as his strength begins to fail. His wrists being tied is the only reason he is still upright because his legs have now lost the strength to hold him. Finally, it is over, Jesus is untied and collapses to ground. To weak to move he stays there on the pavement which is wet with his own blood. At last he has the chance to recover some of his strength once again. The soldiers look at Jesus amazed, wondering how this man could survive the flogging and still maintain his dignity and composure.(Isaiah 50:6)

(Isaiah 50:6) I gave my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who plucked my beard; my face I did not shield from buffets and spitting.

(Isaiah 52:14) Even as many were amazed at him – so marred was his look beyond that of man, and his appearance beyond that of mortals

(St. Matthew 27: 26) Then he released to them Barabbas; but Jesus he scourged and delivered to them to be crucified.

(St. Mark 15: 15) So, Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released to them Bababbas; but Jesus he scourged and delivered to be crucified.

(1 Peter 2:24) Who himself bore our sins in his body upon the tree, that we, having died to sin, might live to justice; and by his stripes you were healed.

(Isaiah 1:18) Come now, let us set things right, says the LORD: Though your sins be like scarlet, they may become white as snow; though they are crimson red, they may become white as wool.

Crown Of Thorns

Then the soldiers of the procurator took Jesus and brought him into the pretorium and gathered the whole cohort (“cohort”=four to six hundred) around him,(St. Matthew 27: 27) where they held a mock coronation for this man, Jesus, who claims to be “King of Jews”.

The Roman soldiers, began to mock him and stripped him and threw a scarlet robe across his shoulders and placed a reed as a scepter in his right hand. In order to complete their mockery, they gathered branches covered with thorns and plaiting a crown they placed it upon his head, pressing it into his scalp. Knelling before him, they mocked him saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” After mocking him, spiting at him, slapping him across the face, they took the stick from him hand, striking him upon the head over and over again, driving the thorns deeper into his scalp. Streams of blood flow down his face, mingling into his hair and beard which had been ripped out in patches.

Once they grew tired of this game, they tore the robe from him, replacing it with his own clothing. Once again Jesus feels the searing pain as his wounds reopen. Finally they are finished and lead him away to be crucified.

(St. Matthew 27:27-31) Then the soldiers of the procurator took Jesus into the pretorium and gathered together about him the whole cohort. And they stripped him and put on him a scarlet cloak; and plaiting a crown of thorns they put it upon his head, and a reed into his right hand; and bending the knee before him they mocked him saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” And they spat on him, and took the reed and kept striking him on the head. And when they had mocked him, they took the cloak off him and put his own garments on him, and led him away to crucify him.

(St. Mark 15: 16-20) Now the soldiers led him away into the courtyard of the praetorium, and they called together the whole cohort. And they clothed him in purple, and plaiting a crown of thorns, they put it upon him, and began to greet him, “hail, King of the Jews!” And they kept striking him on the head with a reed, and spitting upon him; and bending their knees, they did homage to him. And when they had mocked him, they took the purple off him and put his on garments on him, and led him out to crucify him.

Copyright 1986, Journal of the American Medical Association

(diagram courtesy The-Crucifixion.Org, “The Physical Death Of Jesus Christ“, A Mayo Clinic Study)

And, only then, was Jesus led off to face His crucifixion…

Copyright 1986, Journal of the American Medical Association
(Left, victim carrying crossbar (patibulum) to site of upright post (stipes). center Low Tau cross (crux commissa), commonly used by Romans at time of Christ. upper right, Rendition of Jesus’ titulus with name and crime Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews written in Hebrew, Latin, and Greek. Lower right Possible methods for attaching tittles to Tau cross (left) and Latin cross (right).)

The Crucifixion…

In deference to Jewish custom, the Romans apparently returned His garments. The heavy patibulum of the cross was tied across His shoulders. The procession of the condemned Christ, two thieves, and the execution detail of Roman soldiers headed by a centurion began its slow journey along the route which we know today as the Via Dolorosa.
In spite of Jesus’ efforts to walk erect, the weight of the heavy wooden beam, together with the shock produced by copious loss of blood, was too much. He stumbled and fell. The rough wood of the beam gouged into the lacerated skin and muscles of the shoulders. He tried to rise, but human muscles had been pushed beyond their endurance. The centurion, anxious to proceed with the crucifixion, selected a stalwart North African onlooker, Simon of Cyrene, to carry the cross. Jesus followed, still bleeding and sweating the cold, clammy sweat of shock. The 650-yard journey from the Fortress Antonia to Golgotha was finally completed. The prisoner was again stripped of His clothing except for a loin cloth which was allowed the Jews.
The crucifixion began. Jesus was offered wine mixed with myrrh, a mild analgesic, pain-reliving mixture. He refused the drink. Simon was ordered to place the patibulum on the ground, and Jesus was quickly thrown backward, with His shoulders against the wood. The legionnaire felt for the depression at the front of the wrist. He drove a heavy, square wrought-iron nail through the wrist and deep into the wood. Quickly, he moved to the other side and repeated the action, being careful not to pull the arms too tightly, but to allow some flexion and movement. The patibulum was 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.
Copyright 1986, Journal of the American Medical Association
(Left, Size of iron nail. Center, Location of nail in wrist, between carpals and radius. Right, Cross section of wrist, at level of plane indicated at left, showing path of nail, with probable transection of median nerve and impalement of flexor pollicis longus, but without injury to major arterial trunks and without fractures of bones.)

The left foot was pressed backward against the right foot. With both feet extended, toes down, a nail was driven through the arch of each, leaving the knees moderately flexed. The victim was now crucified.
Copyright 1986, Journal of the American Medical Association
(Left, Position of feet atop one another and against stipes. Upper right, Location of nail in second inter metatarsal space. Lower right, Cross section of foot, at plane indicated at left, showing path of nail.)

On The Cross – Crucified…

As Jesus slowly sagged down with His own weight on the nails in the wrists, excruciating, fiery pain shot along the fingers and up the arms to explode in the brain. The nails in the wrists were putting pressure on the median nerve, large nerve trunks which traverse the mid-wrist and hand. As He pushed himself upward to avoid this stretching torment, He placed His full weight on the nail through His feet. Again there was searing agony as the nail tore through the nerves between the metatarsal bones of this feet.
At this point, another phenomenon occurred. As the arms fatigued, great waves of cramps swept over the muscles, knotting them in deep relentless, throbbing pain. With these cramps came the inability to push Himself upward. Hanging by the arm, the pectoral muscles, the large muscles of the chest, were paralyzed and the intercostal muscles, the small muscles between the ribs, were unable to act. Air could be drawn into the lungs, but could not be exhaled. Jesus fought to raise Himself in order to get even one short breath. Finally, the carbon dioxide level increased in the lungs and in the blood stream, and the cramps partially subsided.
Copyright 1986, Journal of the American Medical Association
(Left, Inhalation. With elbows extended and shoulders abducted, respiratory muscles of inhalation are passively stretched and thorax is expanded. Right, Exhalation. With elbows flexed and shoulders adducted and with weight of body on nailed feet, exhalation is accomplished as active, rather than passive, process. Breaking legs below knees would place burden of exhalation on shoulder and arm muscles alone and soon would result in exhaustion asphyxia.)
Spasmodically, He was able to push Himself upward to exhale and bring in life-giving oxygen. It was undoubtedly during these periods that He uttered the short sentences that are recorded.

– looking down at the Roman soldiers throwing dice for His seamless garment:”Father, forgive them for they do not know what they do.”
– to the penitent thief: “Today, thou shalt be with me in Paradise.”
– looking down at Mary His mother, He said: “Woman, behold your son.” Then turning to the terrified, grief-stricken adolescent John , the beloved apostle, He said: “Behold your mother.”
– from the beginning of Psalm 22: “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”
He suffered hours of limitless pain, cycles of twisting, joint-rending cramps, intermittent partial asphyxiation, and searing pain as tissue was torn from His lacerated back from His movement up and down against the rough timbers of the cross. Then another agony began: a deep crushing pain in the chest as the pericardium, the sac surrounding the heart, slowly filled with fluid and began to compress the heart.
The end was rapidly approaching. The loss of tissue fluids had reached a critical level; the compressed heart was struggling to pump heavy, thick, sluggish blood to the tissues, and the tortured lungs were making a frantic effort to inhale small gulps of air. The markedly dehydrated tissues sent their flood of stimuli to the brain. Jesus gasped, “I thirst.” Again we read in the prophetic psalm: “My strength is dried up like a potsherd; my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and thou has brought me into the dust of death” (Psalm 22:15 KJV).
A sponge soaked in posca, the cheap, sour wine that was the staple drink of the Roman legionnaires, was lifted to Jesus’ lips. His body was now in extremis, and He could feel the chill of death creeping through His tissues. This realization brought forth little more than a tortured whisper: “It is finished.” His mission of atonement had been completed. Finally, He could allow His body to die. With one last surge of strength, He once again pressed His torn feet against the nail, straightened His legs, took a deeper breath, and uttered His seventh and last cry: “Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit.”

And He died.


The common method of ending a crucifixion was by crurifracture, the breaking of the bones of the leg. This prevented the victim from pushing himself upward; the tension could not be relieved from the muscles of the chest, and rapid suffocation occurred. The legs of the two thieves were broken, but when the soldiers approached Jesus, they saw that this was unnecessary.
Apparently, to make doubly sure of death, the legionnaire drove his lance between the ribs, upward through the pericardium and into the heart. John 19:34 states, “And immediately there came out blood and water.” Thus there was an escape of watery fluid from the sac surrounding the heart and the blood of the interior of the heart. This is rather conclusive post-mortem evidence that Jesus died, not the usual crucifixion death by suffocation, but of heart failure due to shock and constriction of the heart by fluid in the pericardium.Copyright 1986, Journal of the American Medical Association

( Left, Probable path of spear. Right, Cross section of thorax, at level of plane indicated at left, showing structures perforated by spear. LA indicates left atrium; LV, left ventricle; RA, right atrium; RV, right ventricle. )

(Above diagrams courtesy The-Crucifixion.Org, “The Physical Death Of Jesus Christ”, A Mayo Clinic Study)

My thoughts:

How could any any sane, thinking, feeling human being think for even one fleeting moment that we could endure even a tiny portion of this torture? And then, to do it, not because we were condemned criminals that had to die for our crimes according to current laws & customs, but of our own free will?

Truth is, we couldn’t, we wouldn’t, and nobody else has, except Jesus Christ. His death, in this torturous, horrific manner, paid the price for our sins. Think of that the next time that you decide to do something that you know is against God’s Will… and think of yourself in that horror, pain, agony-filled state that He endured so you could be forgiven for doing what you just did! That is what you deserve, what all of us deserve, for our willful disobedience to the Will of God. But, He paid the price for us! He paid the debt for our sin, so we could come to God, washed clean and white as snow by the shed blood of Jesus! How precious and awe-some that gift is! And how often do we turn our backs on it?

In this day and age, it’s easy to become almost shock-proof to the horror, the purely excruciating agony that Jesus endured during those hours on the cross. As you read through the above descriptions and viewed the accompanying diagrams and pictures, did you wince? Did you cringe? Did tears pour from your eyes because of the weight of guilt on your heart for all the sins you’ve committed that made that unbelievably horrific sacrifice necessary, to save you from the eventual fires of Hell itself? I know I did, and am.

Jesus died to save YOU! Personally, uniquely, wonderfully and lovingly He laid down His own life to give you life ever lasting!!!! He paid the price for YOUR sins, your mistakes, your shortcomings, your lack of willpower to overcome temptation and desires.

If Jesus had remained dead, Christianity would be nothing but an empty promise. But three days after His death, He rose again from the dead. This is the miracle of resurrection, which is what Christians celebrate as the “Great Hope” and the promise Jesus made to every person who would believe in Him and come to the Father through Him. Because the crucifixion was not the end of the story, we can be confident and rejoice that we have assurance of the infinite mercy of God toward man -the gift of the atoning death of Jesus, the miracle of His resurrection, and the expectation of life eternal with Him in glory, forever! He suffered agony beyond anything you could even remotely conceive of, just to bring you to Him, because He does not want even one person to be lost to eternal damnation.

He doesn’t want to lose YOU.

So, what then? How do you accept this awe-some, incredible gift of salvation? What do you do to get “saved?”

1. Acknowledge in your heart that Jesus is Lord.

2. Confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord.

3. Believe that Jesus died for your sins and was raised three days later.

“That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10:9)

“Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.'” (John 3:3)

Here is a “sample” prayer you could pray:

“God, I recognize that I have not lived my life for You up until now. I have been living for myself and that is wrong. I need You in my life; I want You in my life. I acknowledge the completed work of Your Son Jesus Christ in giving His life for me on the cross at Golgotha, and I long to receive the forgiveness You have made freely available to me through this sacrifice. Come into my life now, Lord. Take up residence in my heart and be my King, my Lord, and my Savior. From this day forward, I will no longer be controlled by sin, or the desire to please myself, but I will follow You all the days of my life. I ask this in Jesus’ precious and holy name. Amen.”

If you have become a new creation today, then please, would you do the following?

  • Tell someone else about your new faith in Christ.
  • Spend time with God each day. It does not have to be a long period of time. Just develop the daily habit of praying to Him and reading His Word. Ask God to increase your faith and your understanding of the Bible.
  • Seek fellowship with other followers of Jesus. Develop a group of believing friends to answer your questions and support you.
  • Find a local church where you can worship God.
  • Get baptized as commanded by Christ.
  • “Yeah, I don’t do the church thing, I don’t believe in all of that superstitious nonsense!”

    There was a time, just a short time ago in my life, when I thought that all of this was bunk, useless and I was angry and had walked far away from God and Jesus. But I can tell you, right here and right now, that Jesus is alive and well. God will walk with you and through His word He will instruct you and draw you ever closer to Him. Life without God IS meaningless, useless, empty and void of true joy and contentment. I know… I lived a great many years in that darkness. But God never gave up on me, He never once shut the door or turned out the Light of His love and grace. It was there all the time, and all I had to do was to turn back to Him and back into His loving Arms, confess my sins and my repentence and see with absolute wonder the Joy of my homecoming:

    “I say to you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repents, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.” (Luke 15:7, AKJV)

    Yes, you DO need salvation, you DO need Jesus… and He is waiting for you to come to Him!

    I spent too many years, lost too many precious opportunities to acknowledge and share God’s love with others to remain silent any longer. Therefore, I chose to write this. Let it be known that I AM a “Christ-one“, washed by His blood and His forevermore. Jesus died for ME, for YOU, for us all… and He is my Savior and my Lord. I pray He will be yours, also!!!

    To God alone be the glory, honor and power, forever and ever!

    In the name of Jesus Christ, Savior and Lord, with all of my love…

    ~Heidi Roberts

    2 responses

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