Did Jesus Really Die?

Did Jesus really die on the cross? If He did not, this would deflate His claim to be God and also make Him a liar. Some claim that He did not die in the cross. Perhaps He was simply in a coma or drug induced state and later awoke inside the tomb. Others allege that He faked his death, as is stated in the Koran. Could there be any merit to these claims?

Let’s take a look at what Jesus endured in his crucifixion. Before He was ever hung on a cross he went through a severe flogging. A study by the Journal of the American Medical Association concluded the following effects of Roman flogging on an individual: “The usual instrument was a short whip…with several single or braided leather thongs of variable lengths, in which small iron balls or sharp pieces of sheep bones were tied at intervals…the man was stripped of his clothing, and his hands were tied to an upright post….The back, buttocks, and legs were flogged…The scourging…was intended to weaken the victim to a state just short of death…As the Roman soldiers repeatedly struck the victim’s back with full force, the iron balls would cause deep contusions, and the leather thongs and sheep bones would cut into the skin and subcutaneous tissues. Then, as the flogging continued, the lacerations would tear into the underlying skeletal muscles.” It is also important to remember that He had thorns pressed into his skull. He was more than likely in dire condition before he was ever hung to die. It makes sense that He had to have someone else carry His cross for Him.

You know the pain that occurs when you hit your funny bone? The spikes that went through Jesus’ wrist crushed the nerve that causes the pain when you hit your funny bone. So He was nailed to the cross through his hands and through overlapping feet. At this point, He has already lost a massive amount of blood. Yet, this is not what usually caused death on the cross.  Not being able to relieve the lungs of the accumulating Carbon Dioxide was the usual cause of death. The hanging position on the cross made it extremely difficult to breathe. One would have to repeatedly push up on the pierced feet, which was excruciating, in order to relieve the lungs of oxygen. As the process wore on, the person being crucified would die of asphyxiation.

When the Romans desired to expedite the process, they would break the legs of the victim, making it impossible for them to breathe. This was the standard procedure. This could be seen as a merciful act due to the fact that breathing by placing pressure on the feet was extremely painful. The Roman executioners did not break the legs of Jesus, because they already believed Him dead.

The spear that is reported to have been inflicted through Jesus side produced a mixture of blood and water. This was due to the sac that surrounds the heart being punctured, as well as the heart itself.  Evidence suggests that this was performed by Roman soldiers to ensure death.

Next, tradition states that Jesus’ was embalmed with around 75-100 pounds of linens and spices and placed within a guarded tomb.

It is important to remember that he did not accept the analgesics offered to him as the crucifixion.

In regards to the death of Jesus, the Journal of the American Medical Society attests, “Clearly, the weight of the historical and medical evidence indicates that Jesus was dead before the wound to His side was inflicted and supports the traditional view that the spear, thrust between His right ribs, probably perforated not only the right lung but also the pericardium and heart and thereby ensured his death. Accordingly, interpretations based on the assumption that he did not die on the cross appear to be at odds with modern medical knowledge.”

For the sake of argument, let us just suppose that he did not die. Would a limping, bloody, badly beaten, half dead Jesus be able to convince anyone that he had been resurrected from the dead? I hardly think this would be convincing. The facts indicate that He did die.

Share your thoughts. Upon reading about Jesus’ death and the evidence for it, what thoughts or emotions surface?

Walk good. Live wise. Be blessed.
Josh

12 thoughts on “Did Jesus Really Die?

  1. Great post Josh, and vital topic for us to grasp! If Jesus did not die… how would He have fulfilled the words, “O Death, where is your sting, o Grave where is your victory?” (Is. 43:1-3, I Cor. 15:55) It was necessary that He die to conqueror death…. a limp, bleeding Jesus would not only fail to convince the people, He would have failed to fulfill the Promise of Hope.

  2. I think the bigger question is whether or not the Jesus character existed or not. Because I don’t know. There are no contemporary reports of his life. So first, confirm that he existed. Then you can start wondering whether any the claims about him actually happened.

    • I believe there is overwhelming evidence to support that Jesus existed. Even the vast majority of critical scholars (those that doubt the inerrancy of the Bible, including skeptics, agnostics, and atheist) accept the following:
      – Jesus died by crucifixion
      – Jesus’ disciples believed that he rose and appeared to them
      -The church persecuter Paul was suddenly changed
      -The skeptic James, brother of Jesus, was suddenly changed

      John Dominic Crossan, who is an extremely critical scholar, writes, “That he was crucified is as sure as anything historical can ever be.”

      Jesus’ “existence” is multiply attested within the Bible, in other historical sources, even sources that are critical or hostile towards Christianity.

      If we say, “Well, we can’t know that Jesus existed.” Well, what can we know? Are we going to question the existence of Hammurabi, Caesar Augustus, Alexander the great, etc?

      • “I believe there is overwhelming evidence to support that Jesus existed.”

        Then I would have to say that we disagree about what the word ‘overwhelming’ means.

        “John Dominic Crossan, who is an extremely critical scholar, writes, “That he was crucified is as sure as anything historical can ever be.””

        OK. I disagree with him.

        There is no contemporary evidence for Jesus’ existence. Which means that we have nothing written about him until after he was supposed to have died. The earliest is ten years after the fact. Paul never even claims to have met Jesus in the flesh. Everything written about Jesus outside of the Bible is from decades later.

        I’m not saying Jesus didn’t exist, in one form or another. I just don’t think that ten-year-old or older documentation is good enough to say ‘this person definitely existed, without a doubt’.

        “Are we going to question the existence of Hammurabi, Caesar Augustus, Alexander the great, etc?”

        If they have no contemporary evidence for their existence, then yes, yes we are.

  3. Any historian would write that off as completely nonsensical. You have just chopped off much of knowable history. There is much we can’t know without a doubt. There is plenty that we can be reasonably certain of.

    • Please, give examples of important historical figures for which we don’t have contemporary reports.

      The lack of such reports doesn’t mean they didn’t exist. But it calls into question their existence. And it certainly isn’t good enough evidence to believe in any supernatural claims about such people.

  4. How about Hannibal and Alexander the great? What about the holocaust? Did it happen? The internet abounds with “experts” saying that Jesus was a myth, but no serious historical scholar doubts the historicity of Jesus (including as I previously mentioned, Atheist, skeptics, agnostics, Jewish scholars). If Jesus did not exist, Jewish historians would have snuffed out the movement in the first century. And I disagree that there isn’t good evidence to believe in supernatural claims. I would encourage you to read some works by actual historical critics. Thanks for commenting man!

    • “How about Hannibal and Alexander the great? What about the holocaust?”

      Did you read the part where I wrote ‘contemporary sources’? Do you really think the holocaust doesn’t have any?

      “If Jesus did not exist, Jewish historians would have snuffed out the movement in the first century.”

      So you say. I do not assume that.

      “And I disagree that there isn’t good evidence to believe in supernatural claims”

      So you believe that Gaius Julius Caesar was actually a descendent of Venus?

      • Yes, I did read what you wrote about “contemporary sources”. That is why I supplied the examples of Hannibal and Alexander the Great.

        I do, in fact, believe the holocaust has contemporary sources (and that it happened), but there are plenty of people on the internet that would claim otherwise. They cite a lack of evidence and also that the evidence can be tampered with. I feel that denying the historicity of Jesus falls right in with this sort of conspiracy theory mindset.

        To compare Christianity to the Roman Pantheon is laughable. While I believe there are times when the supernatural best explains the facts, I do not look for a miracle under every rock. I did not say one should believe in every supernatural claim.

  5. “That is why I supplied the examples of Hannibal and Alexander the Great.”

    And I agree that there existence is questionable. Not as questionable as some, but certainly questionable. And it would be more questionable if they had significant supernatural claims about them.

    “They cite a lack of evidence and also that the evidence can be tampered with.”

    And they’re also wrong.

    “I feel that denying the historicity of Jesus falls right in with this sort of conspiracy theory mindset.”

    No conspiracy.

    As I said, I think there’s room to doubt his existence. There may very well have been an itinerant preacher named Yeshua, who the tales of Jesus are based off of. But there also might not have been.

    “I did not say one should believe in every supernatural claim.”

    No, you choose to use special pleading, only believing in the supernatural claims that back up the beliefs you already hold.

    • Hi, Not a Scientist & Josh, after reading the back and forth I decided to join the conversation. I have to agree with Josh regarding the historical evidence of a man named Jesus who existed at the time consistent with our modern day time frame of Jesus. Most scholars, including those Josh mentioned, believe in the authenticity of this information, including scholars who do not subscribe to the Christian religion. Of course you can question his existence and argue against the historical information we have and question if it is enough, but as you two have already said, you can make those same claims for pretty much any historical person who existed at the same time. Are you asking for more historical facts than you would require for other figures?

      Regarding the belief in Jesus as a supernatural being, no fact or evidence can convince a person of such beliefs. I agree with Not a Scientist that as humans we have a tendency to believe things consistent with our existing views of the world. You can absolutely claim that Christians are eager to believe all of Jesus’ works were miracles or supernatural, or to possibly look into regular events as being supernatural proof of his existence. The same would be true of Muhammad and Islam, and a handful of religious leaders. But, this is also true for non-believers (of any religion or thought), we all believe what we want to believe and seek for the evidence that proves our point. It is my personal opinion that non-believers do the same thing they accuse believers or doing. It’s basically the flip side of the same coin.

      It’s not my intention to support anyone side. I would suggest that both of your arguments were heard. Ultimately there will never be enough proof to argue for or against the other’s opinions, that’s why religion is such a difficult conversation. But I very much appreciate the open and respectful manner in which this was discussed. Keep it up. :)

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