Did Jesus really die?

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1There are some people who don’t want to believe that Jesus actually died on the cross. Because if he didn’t die, then his supposed ‘coming back to life’ is no big deal. Some people say, “Perhaps he just fainted on the cross” or “maybe he was drugged . . .” But the Bible is clear when it says, again and again, Jesus died and then he came back to life.

The people at the time wouldn’t have doubted Jesus’ death. When we check out the facts, it’s clear why. So let’s take a look for ourselves:

Fact #1: When we read about the torture and abuse that Jesus suffered, we can see there’s no way anyone could survive all those injuries. Then he was nailed to a cross before spending three days in a cold tomb which was sealed and guarded.

Lee Strobel (The Case for Christ, 1998, pp. 193-200) talks about Jesus’ death from a medical point of view:

“Jesus had been beaten repeatedly and lashed with a Roman scourge before His crucifixion. The leather scourge, a type of whip, was designed to inflict maximum pain and damage on the victim. It was braided with pieces of bone and metal woven into the ends that tore into the flesh with each stroke. The scourge would rip into the underlying muscles and produce strips of quivering, bleeding flesh.

Eusebius, a third-century historian, reports that “the sufferer’s veins were laid bare, and the very muscles, sinews, and bowels of the victim were open to exposure” (quoted by Strobel, p. 193). Many victims would die from the scourging before they could be crucified.”

Fact #2: Before they took him down from the cross, the Roman soldiers did two important things:

  • They didn’t break his legs, because he was already dead. When someone was being crucified, they would try to stay alive by pushing up with their feet so they could continue breathing. The Bible tells us in chapter 19 of John’s Gospel: “The soldiers first broke the legs of the other two men who were nailed there. But when they came to Jesus, they saw that he was already dead, and they did not break his legs.”
  • They stabbed him with a spear to make sure he was dead (John’s Gospel again): “One of the soldiers stuck his spear into Jesus’ side, and blood and water came out. We know this is true, because it was told by someone who saw it happen.”
    • Fact #3: The man who had allowed Jesus’ death, Pilate, was surprised that Jesus had died so quickly. He called the centurion (the army officer) who was in charge of the execution to come and see him. This can be found in Mark’s Gospel (chapter 15): “A man named Joseph from Arimathea was brave enough to ask Pilate for the body of Jesus . . . Pilate was surprised to hear that Jesus was already dead, and he called in the army officer to find out if Jesus had been dead very long. After the officer told him, Pilate let Joseph have Jesus’ body.”

      If the Centurion had messed up on the execution, he would have been put to death instead. So he would have made absolutely sure that Jesus was definitely dead!

      To say that Jesus was drugged ignores what the Bible tells us (In Mark chapter 15). It clearly tells us that He turned down the painkiller that was usually given to crucifixion victims: “They gave him some wine mixed with a drug to ease the pain, but he refused to drink it.”

      So all the things Jesus suffered through, and his refusal of any drugs, show that Jesus really did die. So we all have to make up our own minds about the fact that Jesus was seen alive again three days later . . .

      — Kevin, an Our Daily Bread reader

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