The examination of Jesus’ death and resurrection has proven to be an interesting journey. In my listening to the research of author, Lee Strobel, and doing some of my own digging I came across some very compelling questions as well as arguments.
- How can we be sure Jesus was dead when He was placed in the tomb?
- How do we know Jesus did not fake His death?
First, let’s examine the arguments against Jesus’ death.
- The Swoon Theory – Theory that argues that Jesus did not actually die on the cross. Rather, it is argued that he fainted. The torture as well as pain that Jesus was made to endure likely can be proven to be enough to bring a man in and out of consciousness. Those that support this theory believe Jesus was accidentally assumed dead and placed in the tomb to later emerge from the tomb claiming He had risen. The Swoon Theory also perhaps asserts in this belief that Jesus not only rolled away the stone himself from the inside of the tomb, but that Jesus lied about his own death.
- The Quran: Muslim Claim That Jesus Faked His Death – Other religions, such as Islam harbor the belief that Jesus and God somehow collaborated to fake His death. So again, this plays on the teaching that Jesus never died. Only in this instance, Jesus did not merely faint. He deceived the world. He pretended to die.
Surah Nisa, Quran, chapter 4 verse 157-158
“that they said (in boast), ‘we killed jesus christ the son of mary, the messenger of allah’ – but they killed him not, nor crucified him, but so it was made to appear to them, and those who differ therein are full of doubts, with no (certain) knowledge, but only conjecture to follow, for of a surety they killed him not Nay, allah raised him up unto himself; and allah is exalted in power, wise.”
Now let’s investigate these arguments. Let’s do so from not only a scriptural perspective, but let’s also look at the evidence history presents us. Shall we?
- Flogging – This served as a means of physical punishment. This particular method of corporal punishment was done upon the back. It involved the use of whips, rods, straps, and other objects such as the cat of nine tails.
The Roman practice of flogging, more commonly known as scourging, was an act of condemnation. It mostly took place prior to executions. This form of flogging did not just entail a certain number of lashings dealt to the back. The convicted would be stripped of their clothing and then their bodies marred to the point of either collapse or death.
This act alone, would have left Jesus in such a state, that he would not have been able to move the stone in his tomb, let alone walk given the harshness of this punishment and the cruelty of it.
Scripture does state, that Jesus was flogged.
John 19:1-3New International Version (NIV) Jesus Sentenced to Be Crucified
Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. 2 The soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head. They clothed him in a purple robe3 and went up to him again and again, saying, “Hail, king of the Jews!” And they slapped him in the face.
- The Crucifixion – Crucifixion was a form of Capital Punishment. It is the equivalent of what today we define as the gas chamber or electric chair. It was condemnation to death for a crime. Only the Romans usually did not bestow this punishment on just anyone. It was usually a fate given to the most notorious of criminals. This form of death penalty was the most dishonorably way for anyone in society to be exterminated.
Death carried out in such a way may have resulted in a number of the following conditions:
- Blood Loss
- Hypoglycemic Shock
- Heart Failure
Is there any scriptures that tie into this? Let us take a look!
In the Gospels, it is recorded that Jesus was already exhausted as a result of the floggings in which He received, BEFORE He hung on the cross! This exhaustion likely due to the floggings or scourgings He received prior. This could also perhaps support the case for blood loss.
Mark 15:21New International Version (NIV) The Crucifixion of Jesus
21 A certain man from Cyrene, Simon, the father of Alexander and Rufus, was passing by on his way in from the country, and they forced him to carry the cross.
Matthew 27:30-35New International Version (NIV)30 They spit on him, and took the staff and struck him on the head again and again. 31 After they had mocked him, they took off the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him.
The Crucifixion of Jesus
32 As they were going out, they met a man from Cyrene, named Simon, and they forced him to carry the cross. 33 They came to a place called Golgotha (which means “the place of the skull”). 34 There they offered Jesus wine to drink, mixed with gall; but after tasting it, he refused to drink it. 35 When they had crucified him, they divided up his clothes by casting lots.
Luke 23:26New International Version (NIV)
The Crucifixion of Jesus
26 As the soldiers led him away, they seized Simon from Cyrene, who was on his way in from the country, and put the cross on him and made him carry it behind Jesus.
The scriptures themselves even confirm his death!
But when they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water. – John 19:33-34
I close this here as reading what I have…both arguments and verification of Jesus’ death have jarred me. Learning and reviewing certain details too of those final hours, if it does not stir something inside… I do not know what will.