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The CROSS
The cost of our Redemption from sin.

THE CRUCIFIXION OF JESUS CHRIST

The following is an article on the CRUCIFIXION OF JESUS CHRIST by Dr. C. Truman Davis. It describes the horrible, torturous death of crucifixion.

I would like to introduce it with a quote from A.W. Tozer's book, "Who Put Jesus On The Cross"?

"Let us not curse the Jews for delivering Jesus to be crucified. Let us not single out the Romans in blaming them for putting Jesus on the cross .... Every one of us in the human race had a share in putting Him on the cross! I have often wondered how any professing Christian man or woman could approach the communion table and participate in the memorial of our Lord's death without feeling and sensing the pain and the shame of the inward confession, "I, too, am among those who helped put Him on the cross!" The prophet Isaiah reminds us clearly that the Savior was bruised our "our iniquities" (53:5).... the fingerprints of all mankind are plain evidence against us."

The horror of crucifixion brings us to the reality of how evil and contemptible sin is. God is a God of wrath when it comes to sin. Sin is so grievous that it has to be forgiven. The horrible death of Jesus Christ was needed to bring about such forgiveness. We become so indifferent and used to sin that we fail to realize the seriousness of it. Every sin that each one of us commits or has committed is responsible for those spikes that were nailed into Christ's body. We are all responsible for the agony and searing pain Christ endured. As you read the following article and recoil with the horror of Christ' torturous death, remember, we were all there when they Crucified Him. When we are tempted to sin, may we recall the agony that Christ endured for us. Christ displayed His love for us on the cross of Calvary. If you kneel at the foot of His cross, you will find forgiveness, salvation and redemption.

Before reading the CRUCIFIXION article, remember, Christ allowed Himself to be crucified. Yes, He laid down His life but He took it back up on RESURRECTION morning. Keep in mind that Jesus Christ arose the third day and walked the Earth for 40 days before returning to Heaven. He now sits at the right hand of God the Father, from whence He shall Return to Earth to rule and reign as KING OF KINGS.

THE CRUCIFIXION OF JESUS CHRIST

The Passion of Christ from a Medical Point of View
C. Truman Davis, M.D., M.S.
Arizona Medicine Vol. 22, no. 3. March 1965

In this paper, I shall discuss some of the physical aspects of the passion, or suffering, of Jesus Christ. We shall follow Him from Gethsemane, through His trial, His scourging, His path along the Via Dolorosa to His last dying hours on the cross.

I became interested in this about a year ago when I read an account of the crucifixion in Jim Bishop's book, THE DAY CHRIST DIED. I suddenly realized that I had taken the Crucifixion more or less for granted all these years --that I had grown callous to its horror by a too easy familiarity with the grim details -- and that as a physician I didn't even know the actual immediate cause of death. The Gospel writers don't help us very much on this point because crucifixion and scourging were so common during their lifetime that they undoubtedly considered a detailed description totally superfluous -- so we have the concise words of the Evangelists: "Pilate, having scourged Jesus, delivered Him to them to be crucified -- and they crucified Him."

I am indebted to many who have studied this subject in the past,and especially to a contemporary colleague, Dr. Pierre Barbet, a French surgeon who has done exhaustive historical and experimental research and has written extensively on the subject.

The infinite psychic and spiritual suffering of the Incarnate God in atonement for the sins of fallen man I have no competence to discuss; however, the physiological and anatomical aspects of our Lord's passion we can examine in some detail... what did the body of Jesus of Nazareth actually endure during those hours of torture?

This led me first to a study of the practice of crucifixion itself; that is, the torture and execution of a person by fixation to a cross. Apparently, the first know practice of crucifixion was by the Persians. Alexander and his generals brought it back to the Mediterranean world -- to Egypt and to Carthage. The Romans apparently learned the practice from the Carthaginians and (as with almost everything the Romans did) rapidly developed a very high degree of efficiency and skill in carrying it out. A number of Roman authors (Livy, Cicero, Tacitus) comment on it. Several innoventions and modifications are described in the ancient literature; I'll mention only a few which may have some bearing here. The upright portion of the cross (or stipes) could have the cross-arm (or patibulum) attached two or three feet below its top -- this is what we commonly think of today as the classical form, of the cross (the one which we have later named the Latin cross); however,the common form used in our Lord's day was the Tau cross (shaped like the Greek letter Tau or like our T). In this cross the patibulum was placed in a notch at the top of the stipes. There is fairly overwhelming archeological evidence that it was on this type of cross that Jesus was crucified.

The upright post, or stipes, was generally permanently fixed in the ground at the site of execution and the condemned man was forced to carry the patibulum, apparently weighing about 110 pounds, from the prison to the place of execution. Without any historical or Biblical proof, medieval and Renaissance painters have given us our picture of Christ carrying the entire cross. Many of these painters and most of the sculptors of crucifixes today show the nails through the palm. Roman historical accounts and experimental work have shown that the nails were driven between the small bones of the wrists and not through the palms. Nails driven though the palms will strip out between the fingers when they support the weight of the human body. The misconception may have come about through a misunderstanding of Jesus' words to Thomas, "Observe my hands." Anatomists, both modern and ancient, have always considered the wrists as a part of the hand.

A titilus, or small sign, stating the victim's crime was usually carried at the front of the procession and later nailed to the cross above the head. This sign with its staff nailed to the top of the cross would have given it somewhat the characteristic form of the Latin cross.

The physical passion of the Christ begins in Gethsemane. Of the many aspects of this initial suffering, I shall only discuss the one of physiological interest: the bloody sweat. It is interesting that the physician of the group, St. Luke, is the only one to mention this. He says, "And being in agony, He prayed the longer. And His sweat became as drops of blood, trickling down upon the ground."

Every attempt imaginable has been used by modern scholars to explain away this phrase, apparently under the mistaken impression that this just doesn't happen.

A great deal of effort could be saved by consulting the medical literature. Though very rare, the phenomenon of Hematidrosis, or bloody sweat, is well documented. Under great emotional strain, tiny capillaries in the seat glands can break, thus mixing blood with sweat. This process alone could have produced marked weakness and possible shock.

We shall move rapidly through the betrayal and arrest; I must stress again that important portions of the Passion story are missing from this account. This may be frustrating to you, but in order to adhere to our purpose of discussing only the purely physical aspects of the Passion, this is necessary.

After the arrest in the middle of the night, Jesus was brought before the Sanhedrin and Caiaphas, the High Priest; it is here that the first physical trauma was inflicted. A soldier struck Jesus across the face for remaining silent when questioned by Caiaphas. The palace guards then blind folded Him and mockingly taunted Him 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 Paetorium of the Fortress Antonia, the seat of government of the Procurator of Judea, Pontius Pilate. You are, of course, familiar with Pilate's action in attempting to pass responsibility to Herod Antipas, the Tetrarch of Judea. Jesus apparently suffered no physical mistreatment at the hands of Herod and was returned to Pilate. It was then, in response to the cries of the mob, that Pilate ordered Barabbas released and condemned Jesus to scourging and crucifixion. There is much disagreement among authorities about scourging and crucifixion. There is much disagreement among authorities about scourging as a prelude to crucifixion. Most Roman writers from this period do not associate the two. Many scholars believe that Pilate originally ordered Jesus scourged as his full punishment and that the death sentence by crucifixion come only in response to the taunt by the mob that the Procurator was not properly defending Ceasar against this pretender who claimed to be the King of the Jews.

Preparations for the scourging are carried out. The prisoner is stripped of His clothing and His hands tied to a post above His head. It is doubtful whether the Romans made any attempt to follow the Jewish law in this matter of scourging. The Jews had an ancient law prohibiting 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 of a miscount, they were sure of remaining within the law.) The Roman legionnaire steps forward with the flagrum (or flagellum) 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 again and again across Jesus; shoulders, back and legs. At first the heavy thongs cut through the skin only. Then as the blows continue, they cut deeper into the subcutanious 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 this provincial Jew claiming to be a King. They throw a robe across His shoulders and place a stick in His hand for a scepter. They still need a crown to make their travesty complete. A small bundle of flexible branches covered with long thorns (commonly used for firewood) are plaited into the shape of a crown and this is pressed into His scalp. 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, they tire of their sadistic sport and the robe is torn from His back. This had already become adherent to the clots of blood and serum in the wounds, and its removal, just as in the careless removal of a surgical bandage, causes excruciating pain... almost as though He were again being whipped -- and the wounds again begin to bleed.

In deference to Jewish custom, the Romans return His garments. The heavy patibulum of the cross is tied across His shoulders, and the procession of the condemned Christ, two thieves and the execution detail of Roman soldiers, headed by a centurion, begins its slow journey along the Via Dolorosa. In spite of His efforts to walk erect, the weight of the heavy wooden beam, together with the shock produced by copious blood loss, is too much. He stumbles and falls. The rough wood of the beam gouges into the lacerated skin and muscles of the shoulders. He tries to rise, but human muscles have been pushed beyond their endurance. The centurion, anxious to get on with the crucifixion, selects a stalwart North African onlooker, Simon of Cyrene, to carry the cross. Jesus follows, still bleeding and sweating the cold, clammy sweat of shock. The 650 yard journey from the fortress Antoniato Golgotha is finally completed. The prisoner is again stripped of His clothes-- except for a loin cloth which is allowed the Jews.

The crucifixion begins. Jesus is offered wine mixed with myrrh, a mild analgesic mixture. He refuses to drink. Simon is ordered to place the patibulum on the ground and Jesus is quickly thrown backward with His shoulders against the wood. The legionaire feels for the depression at the front of the wrist. He drives a heavy, square, wrought-iron nail through the wrist and deep into the wood. Quickly, he moves to the otherside and repeats the action, being careful not to pull the arms too tightly, but to allow some flexion and movement. The patibulum is then lifted in place at the top of the stipes 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, leaving the knees moderately flexed. The victim is now crucified. As He slowly sags down with more weight on the nails in the wrists, excruciating, fiery pain shoots along the fingers and up the arms to explode in the brain -- the nails in the wrists are putting pressure on the median nerves. As He pushes Himself upward to avoid this stretching torment, He places His full weight on the nail through His feet.

At this point, another phenomenon occurs. As the arms fatigue, great waves of cramps sweep over the muscles, knotting them in deep, relentless, throbbing pain. With these cramps comes the inability to push Himself upward. Hanging by His arms, the pectoral muscles are paralyzed and the intercostalmuscles are unable to act. Air can be drawn into the lungs, but cannot be exhaled. Jesus fights to raise Himself in order to get even one short breath. Finally, carbon dioxide builds up in the lungs and in the blood stream and the cramps partially subside. Spasmodically, He is able to push himself upward to exhale and bring in the life giving oxygen. It was undoubtedly during these periods that He uttered the seven short sentences which are recorded.

The first, looking down at the Roman soldiers throwing dice for his seamless garment, "Father forgive them for they know not what they do."

The second, to the penitent thief, "Today thou shalt be with me in Paradise."

The third, looking down at the terrified, grief stricken, adolescent John (the beloved Apostle), He said, "Behold thy mother," and looking to Mary, His mother, "Woman behold thy son."

The fourth cry is from the beginning of the 22nd Psalm, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?"

Hours of this limitless pain, cycles of twisting, joint-rending cramps, intermittent partial asphixiation, 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.

Let us remember again the 22nd Psalm (the 14th verse), "I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint; my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels."

It is now almost over -- the loss of tissue has reached acritical level -- the compressed heart is struggling to pump heavy, thick sluggish blood into the tissues -- the tortured lungs are making a frantic effort to gasp in small gulps of air. The markedly dehydrated tissues send their flood of stimuli to the brain.

Jesus gasps His fifth cry, "I thirst."

Let us remember another verse from the prophetic 22nd Psalm: "My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and thou has brought me into the dust of death."

A sponge soaked in Posca, the cheap, sour wine which is the staple drink of the Roman legionnaires, is lifted to His lips. He apparently doesn't take any of the liquid. The body of Jesus is now in extremis, and He can feel the chill of death creeping through His tissues. This realization brings out His sixth words -- possibly little more than a tortured whisper.

"It is finished."

His mission of atonement has been completed. Finally He can allow His body to die.

With one last surge of strength, He once again presses His torn feet against the nail, straightens His legs, takes a deeper breath, and utters His seventh and last cry, "Father, into thy hands I commit my spirit."

The rest you know. In order that the Sabbath not be profaned, the Jews asked that the condemned men be dispatched and removed from the crosses. The common method of ending a crucifixion was by curifracture, the breaking of the bones of the legs. 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 they came to Jesus they saw that this was unnecessary.

Apparently to make doubly sure of the death, the legionnaire drove his lance through the fifth interspace between the ribs, upward through the pericardium and into the heart. The 34th verse of the 19th chapter of the Gospel according to St. John: "And immediately there came out blood and water. "Thus there was an escape of watery fluid from the sac surrounding the heart and blood from the interior of the heart. We, therefore have rather conclusive postmortem evidence that our Lord 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.

Thus we have seen a glimpse of the epitomy of evil which men can exhibit toward man -- and toward God. This is not a pretty sight and is apt to leave us despondent and depressed. How grateful we can be that we have a sequel: A glimpse of the infinite mercy of God toward man -- the miracle of the atonement and the expectation of Easter morning!



Dr. C. Truman Davis is a nationally respected Opthalmologist, vice president of the American Association of Ophthalmology, and an active figure in the Christian schools movement. He is founder and president of the excellent Trinity Christian School in Mesa Arizona, and a trustee of Grove City College. Dr. C. Truman Davis is a graduate of the University of Tennessee College of Medicine. He is a practicing ophthalmologist, a pastor, and author of a book about medicine and the Bible.

Originally published in Arizona Medicine, March 1965, Arizona Medical Association.

This work is © copyrighted by The Review of the NEWS, April 14,1976

(If featuring this article is an infringement on anyone's copyright - please notify us and we will remove it immediately.)




SCRIPTURE VERSES

John 12:32 - "And I, if I be LIFTED UP FROM THE EARTH, will draw all men unto Me.

"I Corinthians 1:18 - "For the preaching of the CROSS is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us who are saved it is the power of God."

Ephesians 2:16 - "And that He might reconcile both unto God in one body by the CROSS, having slain the enmity thereby,"

Philippians 3:10 - "That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His SUFFERINGS, being made conformable unto His DEATH,"

Colossians 1:20 - "And, having made peace through the BLOOD OF HIS CROSS, by Him to reconcile all things unto Himself…."

Colossians 2:14 - "Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, NAILING IT TO HIS CROSS;"

Hebrews 2:9 - "But we see Jesus, Who was made a little lower than the angels for the SUFFERING OF DEATH, crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, SHOULD TASTE DEATH FOR EVERY MAN."

Hebrews 9:12 - "Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by HIS OWN BLOOD He entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us."

Hebrews 9:14 - "How much more shall the BLOOD OF CHRIST, Who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

Hebrews 9:22 - "And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and WITHOUT SHEDDING OF BLOOD IS NO REMISSION."

Hebrews 9:28 -"So Christ was once OFFERED TO BEAR THE SINS OF MANY;"

Revelation 1:5 "… washed us from our sins in HIS OWN BLOOD,"

Isaiah 53:12 - " ... He hath POURED OUT HIS SOUL UNTO DEATH; and He was numbered with the transgressors; and He bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors."

ISAIAH 53
1: "Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?
2: For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.
3: He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
4: Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.
5: But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.
6: All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.
7: He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.
8: He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken.
9: And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.
10: Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.
11: He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.
12: Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors."



JESUS CHRIST SHALL RETURN, AS KING!







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