A jewelry store in a large city featured a selection of religious jewelry with crosses of gold and platinum, some studded with diamonds and sapphires with prices in the thousands. Below the display was a small sign encouraging customers to come inside. The sign read, “All on easy terms….” A passerby saw the sign and remarked, “Yes, and there was a day when a man got a cross for nothing!”
No other teaching or theme is so central to Christianity as is the crucifixion of Christ at the hands of Roman soldiers. All of the Gospel writers Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John describe the crucifixion in great detail, each adding to the mosaic of human suffering. The rest of the New Testament books interpret the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, accepting the documentation of the eye witnesses or early Church as the very foundation and fabric of Christianity. What does all of this mean in our world today?
Two specialists at the prestigious Mayo Clinic became seriously interested in the medical aspects of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, Dr. William Edwards of the Department of Pathology and Floyd Hosmer of the Medical Graphics Department of the same institution. They teamed up with a scholar to investigate the very account of the crucifixion. Their research was printed in the March 26, 1986 Journal of the American Medical Association, a strictly secular journal given to scientific research and data. In detail this team of specialists examined the account, concluding that death by crucifixion was the result of a combination of physical causes loss of blood from scourging, exhaustion to the physical body, the trauma of pain and stress, and finally the collapse of respiration leading to asphyxiation.
“The actual cause of death by crucifixion,” says the article, “was multifactorial and varied somewhat with each case, but the two most prominent causes probably were hypovolemic shock and exhaustion asphyxia.” They concluded that Jesus was dead by the time the soldiers came with spears to pierce his side. “The important feature,” says these researchers, “may not be how he died but rather whether he died. Clearly, the weight of historical and medical evidence indicates that Jesus was dead before the wound to his side was inflicted…”
I read the article, appreciating the insights that these medical researchers made along with the hard work that had gone into their research. The article was objective and scientific, simply accepting the well documented New Testament account of crucifixion as supplemented by Roman authors such as Seneca, Plutarch, Tacitus, and Sutonius. But what surprised me, as it surely must have the authors, was the flood of allegations claiming that the article was anti Semitic.
The issue is not a matter of racial prejudice; it is one of historical accuracy. Did Jesus Christ die at the hands of Roman soldiers outside the city of Jerusalem on that day of infamy, or was the whole story a concocted nightmare, the product of ignorant disappointed fishermen? No individual or even group could have so conceived such an elaborate scheme or intricate plot, especially ignorant fishermen who had no ambitions to deceive the world. The New Testament states the fact so clearly: “…Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day…” (1Corinthians 15:3 4, KJV). That, friend, is the whole crux of the issue. Furthermore, according to Paul, it was this that allowed God to extend forgiveness for our failure and sin. He put it, “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace…” (Ephesians 1:7). It is this that makes the difference.
Resource Reading: Mark 15.
For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures. – 1 Corinthians 15:3
From: Guidelines International Ministries
April 1, 2015