Jesus managed to survive the crucifixion



Jesus was only on the cross for a short time.

Jesus spent only several hours on the cross. Crucifixion normally takes 3 days and the victim typically dies of exhaustion.

(Mark 15:44)  Pilate was surprised to hear that he was already dead. Summoning the centurion, he asked him if Jesus had already died.

It may be true that a typical crucifixion takes 3 days but it may also be true that different victims endure different kinds of torture on the cross. The New Testament describes the kind of tortures Jesus went through. How could he have survived the ordeal of the torture? Jesus was severely whipped and then nailed to the cross. Hanging by the arms after some time, the Romans further pierced his side with a spear. Now, having gone through whipping, where Jesus’ back is almost laid open, having his arms and feet pierced, having a spear thrust in his side, being taken down and washed, then plastered with many pounds of spices, would Jesus still be alive?

We have to ask ourselves: If Jesus really was pierced with a spear into his side so deep that blood gushes out, does he still need three days to die of natural exhaustion?

Secondly, we must acknowledge the fact that Jesus could will himself to die. We were told, he gave up his spirit after declaring his redeeming work on the cross to be completed.

In John 19:30, Jesus cried out, “It is finished”, and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

The two men who were with him on the cross could not do that. We also refer to an earlier statement by Jesus that he has to power to lay down his life at will.

In John 10:18, Jesus said,”No one takes it (my life) from me but I lay it down of my own accord; I have power to lay it down and power to take it again, this charge have I received from my Father”.

People must have been mistaken about Jesus’ death.

Surah 4:157-158 says that it appeared to them Jesus died. This means that the apparent signs were that Jesus had died but it only appeared to them that way and those who said that Jesus was dead were mistaken.

The Biblical accounts about Jesus’ death, even if they were written by eyewitnesses, were written by people who did not have the opportunity to examine Jesus personally, nor are they trained to examine him medically to make sure that Jesus had indeed died.

There had been reported cases of people who were pronounced dead and later came back to life because the inspectors were wrong.

Jesus’ death was confirmed by the centurion who checked personally. It is not logical that a centurion, who was placed with the responsibility of crucifixion, is himself not trained to even determine whether a man is dead or alive.

The centurion had to be thoroughly sure because if he is wrong, he will pay with his life. We know how strict a disciplinary system the centurion were under when the sentries who were guarding Paul’s prison drew out his sword to kill himself when he thought that the prisoners had escaped. (Acts 16:27). Death was preferable to subjecting himself to the terribly harsh discipline.

John 19:33 told us that when the centurion “came to Jesus, and saw that he was dead already, they brake not his legs”. Some Muslims say that because the word “saw” was used, it means that the centurion simply took one look and surmised that Jesus died. To them, the word “saw” means they did not touch him or make other efforts to verify that he was dead. Can we really make such a conclusion from the word “saw”? Even when we say that in English, nobody would restrict the interpretation to mean nothing but a visual reception. The word “saw” means not just visual reception, but also a realization, like in the next verse.

(Mat 9:2)  Some men brought to him a paralytic, lying on a mat. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.”

Did Jesus see their faith visually? No, he realized the faith was there from inspection, from the evidences of the situation. It is illogical to think that a modern day policeman would take one look at a person and conclude that he is dead. How much more naïve to think that a Roman centurion would dare be so careless, especially when one knows what kind of strict discipline they were under.

Even if the centurion is careless, which is highly unlikely, how about the others? Joseph of Arimathea prepared the body of Jesus for burial and must have realized if Jesus wasn’t dead. Here we definitely have physical contact and close examination.

We cannot refute the modern day cases of people who had been pronounced dead and later realized to be alive. But if this is the case for Jesus, then he is no prophet of God. He repeatedly say that he would die. Eyewitness also tell us that Jesus said these words prior to his death. If he did not die, then Jesus himself is lying.

(Luke 23:46)  Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last.

Furthermore, of the cases that were quoted about people who were reportedly dead but later found to be alive, how many actually went through what Jesus went through. Many people just pictured Jesus nailed to the cross, but he actually went though much more than that. He was whipped and eventually a soldier put a spear through his side, so deep water and blood gushed out.

Blood and water came out of Jesus, a sign of life.

Muslims say that when the Roman soldier pierced a sword into Jesus’ side, blood and water came out. This is evidence of a pumping heart, which means Jesus did not die.

(John 19:34)  Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water.

It is disputable whether the outflow of blood and water indicates that Jesus was alive or dead. There are equal arguments on both sides.

An article in the Journal of the American Medical Society (March 21, 1986) concludes : “Clearly, the weight of 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 rib, 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 Jesus did not die on the cross appear to be at odds with modern medical knowledge.”

To me, this is all alien stuff as I am not a medical doctor. I only want to say that the fact that water and blood flowed out of Jesus may not be to many conclusive proof either of his death of life. But this may all be irrelevant. If Jesus did not die before the Roman soldier put his spear through him, would he not die shortly after? I would.

Jesus’ bones were not broken, indicating that he did not die

During the crucifixion, Jesus’ bones were not broken. Christians believe that this is in fulfillment of Old Testament prophesy that none of Jesus’ bones would be broken.

(Psa 34:20)  he protects all his bones, not one of them will be broken. (See also Num 9:12, Exod 12:46)

Some Muslims, like Ahmed Deedat, acknowledges that the fact that Jesus’ bones were not broken was in accordance with Old Testament prophesy. But according to them, this is an indication that Jesus would be kept alive. If the bones of a victim were to be protected from harm, they could be of benefit only if the person was alive. For a person already dead, intact bones mean nothing.

If we look at all the Old Testament prophesies that talk about Jesus’ bones not being broken, you will find that none of them will say that his bones are not broken because they would be later useful to Jesus who would be kept alive. The Old Testament just states a future fact, and that fact is that Jesus’ bones would not be broken.

But if we go to the New Testament, we need not speculate why Jesus’ bones were not broken. Eyewitness record tells us that the reason that Jesus’ bones were not broken was not because Jesus could use them later as he was alive, but that Jesus was already dead when soldier examined Jesus. (See verse 33)

(John 19:31-36)  Now it was the day of Preparation, and the next day was to be a special Sabbath. Because the Jews did not want the bodies left on the crosses during the Sabbath, they asked Pilate to have the legs broken and the bodies taken down. {32} The soldiers therefore came and broke the legs of the first man who had been crucified with Jesus, and then those of the other. {33} But when they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. {34} Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water. {35} The man who saw it has given testimony, and his testimony is true. He knows that he tells the truth, and he testifies so that you also may believe. {36} These things happened so that the scripture would be fulfilled: “Not one of his bones will be broken,”

The above verses also tell us that Pilate had ordered that the legs of the three men on the cross be broken so that this would expedite their death, so that they would not survive beyond the Sabbath. For a Roman soldier to disobey Pilate’s orders, he had to be absolutely sure that Jesus was already dead. If he was not sure, why not just break his legs?

How would breaking the legs of a person on the cross expedite death? Dr Truman Davis, an M.D., describes the cause of death for crucified persons. “Hanging by his arms, the pectoral muscles are paralyzed and the intercostal muscles are unable to act. Air can be drawn into the lungs, but cannot be exhaled.” After a while, there would be insufficient blood circulating to the brain and heart. The only way the victim could avoid this was to push up by his feet so the blood could be returned to some degree of circulation in the upper part of his body. When the executioners wanted to hasten death, the victim’s legs were broken to prevent him from pushing himself upward to relieve the tension on the chest muscles.

Crucifixion is not a cruel form of death.

Deedat portrays crucifixion as an easy exercise, which does not cause death. In speaking of the people in the Philippines who willingly went through crucifixions, Deedat says, “Not a single person died by crucifixion. One of the crucified man fainted. Another crucified man was up and smoking a cigarette as soon as his hands were bandaged. A vendor had gone through the crucifixion for the fifth time.”

All the Filipinos went through the crucifixions and survived. Do we conclude that crucifixions are a mild form of torture that do not easily result in death? There are many similar things that the Filipinos and the crucified people in Jesus’ days go through. All were whipped, beaten, forced to drag the cross, nailed to it and hanged on it. But looking at these similar words, are we able to determine the magnitude of the torture? It makes a difference how many times one was whipped, beaten and with what one was beaten. How long one was forced to drag the cross and hang on it?

It is indisputable that the Filipinos survived. But can we be so sure that they went through the very same thing the victims in Jesus’ day went through. The crucifixions that the Filipinos went through were for the purpose of penance – that means suffering so that one’s sins can be atoned for. Therefore the purpose is suffering, not death. None of the Filipinos who went through the crucifixion intended to kill themselves there.

The crucifixions during Jesus’ days were not intended for suffering alone; they were intended to cause the victims death through torture. According to the Encarta Encyclopedia, it was a common form of capital punishment from the 6th century BC to the 4th century AD, especially among the Persians, Egyptians, Carthaginians, and Romans. In his “History”, Herodotus notes that the Persians practiced crucifixion as a form of execution (1.128.2; 3.125.3; 3.132.2; 3.159.1). Cicero calls crucifixion the most extreme form of punishment (Verr. 2.5.168). Josephus, who witnessed men dying by crucifixion during Titus’ siege of Jerusalem, calls it “the most wretched of deaths” (JW 7 §203).

One only has to read the gospels to see the severity of the torture. Before Jesus was even put on the cross, he was severely tortured.

(Mat 27:26-30)  Then he released Barabbas to them. But he had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified. {27} Then the governor’s soldiers took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole company of soldiers around him. {28} They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, {29} and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head. They put a staff in his right hand and knelt in front of him and mocked him. “Hail, king of the Jews!” they said. {30} They spit on him, and took the staff and struck him on the head again and again.

The whip that was used to flog Jesus, known as a flagrum, had a sturdy handle to which were attached long leather throngs of varying lengths. Sharp jagged pieces of bone and lead were woven into them. Eusebius, writing of the torture in the third century says, “The sufferer’s veins were laid bare, and the very muscles, sinews, and bowels of the victim were open to exposure.” To add to these tortures, a spear was pierced to Jesus’ side, something no penitent sinner in the Philippines would want to go through.

(John 19:34)  Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water.

Analysis of Jesus’ graveclothes show that he was alive.

Ahmed Deedat tells us that German Scientists who carried out experiments on the Shroud of Turin said that the heart of Jesus had not stopped functioning.

Firstly, it is not conclusively proven that the Shroud of Turin was the real graveclothes of Jesus. The point is debatable but beyond the scope of this article.

Secondly, even if they are the graveclothes of Jesus, how good is the evidence? Deedat denies the Roman soldiers conclusion that Jesus died even though they examined his body when it was at the cross. But Deedat has no difficulty believing the findings of German scientists two thousand years later based on the graveclothes of Jesus alone (assuming those were the actual graveclothes).

Can a truly objective person resort to this kind of reasoning?

Jesus had ample time to recover in the tomb.

Jesus was left alone for three days in an airy tomb. Surely he could recover during that time. Recovery would in fact be aided by the ointments and herbs that they have placed on Jesus’ body to help the wounds heal.

(Mark 16:1)  When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body.

Muslims interpret the word “anoint” to mean “massage”. They believe that medication was applied to Jesus to help his wounds to recover.

Would lying for 3 days in the tomb with no medical attention after all the suffering he went through caused him to be revived? A healthy person could not survive 3 days in a tomb without food and water, not to mention a person who has gone through the sufferings that Jesus had.

The word “anoint” in Mark 16:1 does not mean “massage”. The basic meaning of the word is simply to smear something on an object. The same word is used in the Septuagint (the Greek trans­lation of the Old Testament) in Ezekiel 13:10,11,12,14,15 to refer to “plastering” of a wall with mortar. The anointing is the process associated with Jewish burial customs.

The Bible said that the women brought spices to anoint Jesus, not medicinal herbs that Muslims claim, to help Jesus to recover. These spices are perfumed spices to prepare the body for burial. The Greek word for “spices” is “aroma” from which we also derived the English word “aroma” which “fragrance”. We also need not speculate what these spices will be used for because it is plain that they were meant to be used for burial purposes.

(John 19:39-40)  He was accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night. Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds. {40} Taking Jesus’ body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen. This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs.

The word “spices” here (Greek word : aroma) is the same word used when we read that the woman brought the spices.

We know for a fact that it is Jewish custom to apply spices and perfumes to a dead body to prepare it for burial. We find proof of this as far back as the Old Testament.

(2 Chr 16:13-14)  Then in the forty-first year of his reign Asa died and rested with his fathers. {14} They buried him in the tomb that he had cut out for himself in the City of David. They laid him on a bier covered with spices and various blended perfumes, and they made a huge fire in his honor.

It is also illogical for Mary to want to “massage” Jesus. If Mary did massage Jesus, who had just gone through the crucifix­ion, had his hand and feet pierced, his back laid open by whip­ping, she would probably have hastened his death, assuming he did not die on the cross.

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