What’s the medical report on the crucifixion?

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It is believed that the word "tormenting" comes from Latin for "from the cross." There was no other word to describe the pain Jesus endured on the cross. His agony started with his ordeal in the garden the night before and prayed so hard that he was sweating blood. The extent of his suffering before being nailed to the cross is an important factor in Christ's death.

Three important points

Although we know that Christ died on the cross, a few things need to be clarified:

1. Jesus had been considerably weakened before he was crucified.

2. The spikes in his hands and feet did not kill Jesus.

3. There is a lot of medical literature that explains why it is practically impossible for him to survive. just passed out, as some cynics suspect.

Prepared for bleeding

Three events caused Jesus to be weaker on the day of his crucifixion than others hanging on crosses before, after, or next to him. Historians note that Jesus died relatively quickly when he was nailed to the wood, but that was probably due to blood loss and possibly shock. Several factors exacerbated blood loss: fragile skin after his prayers in the garden of Gethsemane; a particularly angry flogging; and certain props that were used to mock him.

1. Sweating blood

A 21st century forensic reconstruction begins with the fact that Jesus may be suffering from hematidrosis: "And because he was afraid, he prayed more seriously and his sweat was like drops of blood falling on the floor" (Luke 22:44). Many readers believe that this is either an exaggeration or a supernatural phenomenon, but hematidrosis is medically explained as "excretion of blood or blood pigments in sweat" as a result of "anxiety-induced severe anxiety (…)".

Jesus knew what would come (Matthew 20:19), all the agony of being scourged, tortured on the cross, and worst of all, that God would leave him (Matthew 27:46). "Hematidrosis (…) causes the skin to become extremely delicate and fragile, which would have made Christ's upcoming physical insults even more painful." His skin would be cracked more easily if the flogging started, which could have resulted in more blood loss than normal. Modern doctors also explain that extreme stress strained Christ's heart before he was tortured.

2. Flogged with anger

Jesus was hit by a whip made of "braided leather straps with woven metal balls" and "sharp pieces of bone". "The victim's veins were exposed and the victim's muscles, tendons and intestines were open to exposure." While the goal was to bring a person as close to death as possible without actually killing them, "many people would die from these blows before they could be crucified."

The back of Jesus was not marked with red streaks. The skin wasn't just bleeding. His flesh was torn. Sometimes the victim's back was "so torn that part of the spine (…) was exposed by the deep, deep cuts". Some writers theorize that Jesus endured the maximum of 39 lashes as provided by Jewish law, but there is conflicting speculation that Roman soldiers may have ignored the law. Nobody knows. He was hated for threatening Caesar's power and ridiculed for apparently failing.

As a result, Jesus could have endured more lashes than normal. Since "the decision to scourge Jesus was made before it was decided that he would be crucified," the punishment could have been particularly angry. "After Jesus was scourged, Pilate tried to release him."

3. Crown and robe

Another unique aspect of Christ's experience – being ridiculed as the King of the Jews – added to the pain and blood loss he endured. He had to wear a crown of thorns that cut into his now fragile skin and caused even more bleeding around the scalp. Christ was hit in the head several times, drove the thorns further into this area, and increased both bloodshed and pain. Doctors and nurses in the emergency room see severe bleeding from head wounds due to the "strong vascularity" of the scalp and the "density of connective tissue (which) tends to keep vessels open when the scalp is injured."

Because of this, even small cuts can cause significant bleeding, leading to hypovolemia, hypotension, and even death. “Many of the wounds on Jesus' back had started to clot, some while he was wearing the robe that his tormentors had forced on him. Tearing off Jesus' back was like "carelessly removing a surgical bandage" and opening the wounds again when they humiliated Jesus. The soldiers also hastened his death.

Excessive blood loss and dehydration would have shocked the body of Christ before the nails were hammered into his wrists and feet. In addition to “hypovolemic shocks”, traumatic pain would also have resulted in an “injury shock”, both of which are consequences of the “traumatic event” that Christ suffered. The shock itself would have added to his pain by causing “pericarditis” or “inflammation of the pericardium” that would have caused “stabbing chest pain”.

After experiencing an unthinkable amount of pain, nails were driven into Jesus' wrists and feet. The positioning of a person on the cross is designed to be as uncomfortable as possible, from the way the hands are lifted to the side, to the angle of the knees and hips. You would have to constantly press your feet to breathe, but this would send pain signals through every nerve. The shock lowered his blood pressure, which meant that no oxygen got into his organs and no waste was removed.

Can't exhale

Christ would have had difficulty breathing, but inhaling was not as difficult as exhaling. “For a sufficient exhalation, the body had to be raised by pushing the feet up, bending the elbows and pulling the shoulders inwards. To accomplish this feat, the full weight of Christ would have focused on his feet, causing "burning pain," not to mention the agony of his back rubbing against the rough wood as he tried to exhale and inhale. An accumulation of carbon dioxide due to insufficient exhalation would have led to further cramps.

The final judgment

A spear was pushed through the organs of Christ from below and released fluid and blood. If he was still alive at this point (highly doubtful), the spear would kill him. The Messiah was barely alive before he was hoisted up for a crowd to see how torturous it is and how certain it will be if he is taken off the cross. Theologians suggest that the 3-6 hours of Christ were a relatively short period of time because of the trauma he suffered before his crucifixion. Inflammation and fluid retention put pressure on his organs; Without the removal of blood waste, they might not work properly. Eventually, Christ's system was shut down. The verdict: "Cardiac and respiratory arrest due to a hypovolemic and traumatic shock due to a crucifixion."

What does that mean?

The resurrection means nothing unless Christ really died, but there is little point in refuting the evidence of his death and pointing out that he was hidden somewhere and restored to health. The Gospels do not show a weak, sick Jesus who shows jagged, seeping wounds so that he could have recovered on the third day. "Common complications of hemorrhagic shock include kidney damage, other organ damage, death" and possibly "gangrene due to reduced limb blood flow".

The disciples saw Christ in good health, holes visible but healed (John 20:27), with the energy to continue his ministry for some time. Those who believe that Christ died for their sins naturally feel guilty and painful when they see what Jesus has gone through for them. But there is triumph here too, because God could save Christ from Sheol, and if he can, he can save us from our sin if we put our faith and trust in him.

© iStock / Getty Images Plus / RomoloTavani

Candice Lucey loves Christ and you enjoy writing about his promises. She lives with her family in the mountains of BC, Canada.

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