Friday 10 April 2009

The manner in which Jesus Christ died

For close to two thousand years, Christians have presumed that Jesus bled to death on the cross. He did not bleed to death. He suffocated to death while hanging on the cross. That may seem ludicrous but after you have read what I have to say on this issue, you will agree with me.

When it was time for Jesus to be executed, the soldiers moved Jesus towards the post on the ground and after securing his feet to it (one above the other) and his wrists to the cross beam behind him with lengths of rope, the Tribune motioned to one of his soldiers to bring the leather bag to him. This was done and the bag was dropped at his feet.

One of the soldiers then reached into the leather bag and brought out a hammer and one of the three large spikes they brought with them. The soldier knelt down at Jesus’s feet and placed the point of the spike onto the middle of Jesus’s right foot. He raised the hammer up high and paused and then swung it down hard on the head of the spike.

Jesus let out a piercing scream causing him to lapse into a semi-conscious state. By the time the second strike of the hammer against the head of the spike had been made, the point of the spike had been driven in between the first and second metatarsal bones, several inches from the end of his toes and through tendons and flesh and through the sole of his foot and partway into the flesh of his second foot. The impact of the hammer against the nail head the third time drove the spike through his second foot and a couple of inches into the small wooden foot support previously nailed to the post.

Another soldier after being handed the hammer and another spike, moved towards the cross beam and then after placing the spike against Jesus’s left wrist, he began driving the spike into the soft flesh. The nail penetrated Jesus’s wrist without striking the metatarsal bones. The point of the nail was driven through the muscles, blood vessels and nerves of his wrist and finally four inches into the cross beam.

The sudden pain brought Jesus back to full consciousness again and he screamed from the shock of the new source of pain. As he writhed in agony, the soldier repeated the same torturous procedure with Jesus’s right wrist. Jesus screamed again. This time his screaming was prolonged even longer than before.

Jesus was suffering from excruciating pain but unknown to him; his body wasn’t reacting the way an ordinary person would react; such as screaming his lungs out. People who suffer pain have a strategy to cope with pain. Many turn to religion. Jesus was very religious and those with strongly held religious beliefs are better able to cope with pain. Further, he knew that he was destined to suffer as foretold so he accepted his fate and as a result, some of the traumatic effects of the pain he was subjected to was to some degree lessened, albeit very little. This fact is obvious when you consider that people in The Philippines who have consented to being nailed to crosses as a sign of their faith, have not screamed in agony while hanging on their crosses.

The soldiers stared at their victim for a short time, watching and listening to him writhing and moaning in agony but later, they stopped gazing at their victim as they had seen this kind of suffering in the past.

While they did watch, they did so with fascination as Jesus kept pulling himself up so that his legs would be straight. They knew that if he didn’t do this, he would suffocate to death. All they were interested in was watching a human being suffer just as others had before him.

The major pathophysiologic effect of Jesus’s crucifixion, beyond the intense pain, brought about a marked interference with his normal respiration, particularly the process of exhaling. The weight of his body, pulling down on his outstretched arms and shoulders, fixed his intercostal muscles and diaphragm in an inhalation state and thereby hinder passive exhalation. Accordingly, his exhalation, which would be primarily brought about by his diaphragm moving upwards toward his lungs, became very shallow. This form of respiration was not sufficient for too long and soon abnormally high concentrations of carbon dioxide accumulated in Jesus’s blood. The onset of violent involuntary muscle contractions due to fatigue and the excess carbon dioxide in his lungs; hindered his respiration even further.

The only way Jesus could bring himself any form of relief from the inability to exhale was to lift his body upwards by pushing up on his feet and by flexing his elbows and adducting his shoulders. However, this maneuver placed the entire weight of his body on his feet and wrists and produced searing pain in those extremities because of the nails tearing at the flesh and nerves in his feet and wrists even more. Furthermore, flexion of his elbows causing rotation of his wrists rubbing against the iron nails brought about fiery pain along his damaged median nerves. Lifting his body also was painful because in doing so, he scraped his scourged back against the rough wooden pillar. Muscle cramps and the pins and needles sensation of his outstretched and uplifted arms added to his discomfort. As a result, each respiratory effort became painful and tiring and was leading him towards eventual asphyxia, which in turn would bring about unconsciousness and finally, death.

The Romans went along with some of the customs of the Jews in those days and one of the customs was that no condemned person was to remain on the cross during the Sabbath. The Jewish Sabbath begins at mid Friday afternoon and ends late afternoon the following day. Jesus was crucified during early Friday afternoon. That meant that Jesus and the two thieves had to be taken down from their crosses by the middle of Friday afternoon.

What was the cause of death to these three men who were hanging on their crosses that fateful afternoon? To answer that question, you have to ask yourself this question. Why did the soldiers break the legs of the two thieves who were on the cross but didn’t break Jesus’ legs?

Not all condemned prisoners had their wrists nailed to a cross. Many were simply suspended by their wrists with rope and if their feet were nailed to the post or tied to the post, they were left to die while suspended by their wrists from the crossbeam. Most lived for days, slowly dying of thirst in the hot sun. However, eventually, they all died from suffocation.”

When they were suspended by their wrists and their feet were nailed or tied to the post, their diaphragms that which made it possible for their lungs to breathe in air and exhale; were pulled upwards as a direct result of the muscles of their arms and their sides exerting pressure against their diaphragms. They could breathe in but once they breathed in air, they couldn’t exhale and if they couldn’t exhale, then they couldn’t breathe in anymore. The only way they could stop their muscles from putting upward pressure against their diaphragms, was to stand up. If their feet were merely tied to the post, they would have to remain awake all the time they were suspended on the cross otherwise they would suffocate when they fell asleep.

Have you noticed that many pictures and statues of Jesus shows him slumped downwards with his knees protruding outward? That is because they didn’t place the block of wood at the bottom of his feet with his legs straight down. By placing the block a foot up the pole, it meant that he had to exert himself to stand up to release the pressure against his diaphragm and to make matters worse, the block slopped downwards which meant he had to pull himself up also, thereby increasing the pain against his wrists also.

Jesus was already dead when the soldiers decided to have him brought down from the cross. He wasn’t writhing and moaning like the thieves were. His heart stopped beating and thus, a very small amount of his blood came out of his body when the soldier’s spear was withdrawn from Jesus’ side and that’s why more water than blood came out. Although Jesus lost a considerable amount of blood when he was being scourged, he didn’t lose that much when the nails were driven through his wrists and feet.

The two thieves died shortly thereafter when their legs were broken when a soldier smashed them with a heavy iron bar. Until their legs were broken, they could still reduce the pressure being exerted against their diaphragms by pulling themselves up by their muscles in their arms and legs. But once their shin bones were smashed, they no longer had the ability do so, and for this reason, they suffocated to death just as Jesus had earlier.

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