The Medical Description of The Crucifixion
A Medical Description of the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ
	The physical trauma of Christ begins in Gethsemane with one
of the initial ascepts of His suffering - the bloody sweat. It is
interesting that the physician of the group, St. Luke, is the
only one to mention this. He says, “And being in agony, He prayed
the longer. And his sweat became as drops of blood, trickling
down upon the ground.”
	Though very rare, the phenomenon of hemathidrosis, or bloody
sweat, is well documented. Under great emotional stress, tiny
capillaries in the sweat glands can’t break, thus mixing blood
with sweat. This process alone could have produced marked
weakness and possible shock.

	After the arrest in the middle of the night, Jesus was
brought before the Sanhedrin and Caiaphas, the High Priest. A
soldier struck Jesus across the face for remaining silent when
questioned by Caiaphas. The palace guards then blindfolded Him
and mockingly taunted Him to identify them as they each passed
by, spat on Him, and struck Him in the face.

	In the early morning, Jesus, battered and bruised,
dehydrated, and exhausted from a sleepless night, is taken across
Jerusalem to the Praetorium of the Fortress Antonia. It was
there, in response to the cries of the mob, that Pilate ordered
Bar-Abbas released and condemned Jesus to scourging and

	Preparations for the scourging are carried out. The prisoner
is stripped of His clothing and His hands tied to a post above
His head. The Roman legionnaire steps forward with the flagrum in
his hand. This is a shortwhip consisting of several heavy,
leather thongs with two small balls of lead attached to the ends
of each. The heavy whip is brought down with fill force again and
again across Jesus’ shoulders, back and legs.

	At first the heavy thongs cut through the skin only. Then,
as the blows continue, they cut deeper into subcutaneous tissues,
producing first an oozing of blood from the capillaries and veins
of the skin, and finally spurting arterial bleeding from vessels
in the underlying muscles. The small balls of lead first produce
large, deep bruises which are broken open by subsequent blows.

	Finally the skin of the back is hanging in long ribbons and
the entire area is an unrecognizable mass of torn, bleeding
tissue. When it is determined by the centurion in charge that the
prisioner is near death, the beating is stopped.

	The half-fainting Jesus is then untied and allowed to slump
to the stone pavement, wet with His own blood. The Roman soldiers
see a great joke in this provincial Jew claiming to be a king.
They throw a robe across His shoulders and place a stick in His
hand for a scepter. A small bundle of flexible branches covered
with long thorns is pressed into His scalp.

	Again there is copious bleeding (the scalp being one of the
most vascular areas in the body). After mocking Him and striking
Him across the face, the soldiers take the stick from His hand
and strike Him across the head, driving the thorns deeper into
His scalp. Finally, they tire of their sadistic sport and the
robe is torn from his back. This had already become adherent to
the colts of blood and serum in the wounds, and its removal, just
as in the careless removal of a surgical bandage, cause
excruciating pain - almost as though He were again being whipped,
and the wounds again begin to bleed.

	The heavy beam of the cross is then tied across His
shoulders, and the procession of the condemned Christ, two
thieves and the execution detail, begins its slow journey, The
weight of the heavy wooden beam, together with the shock produced
by copious blood loss, is too much. He stumbles and falls. The
rough wood of the beam gouges into the lacerated skin and muscles
of the shoulders. He tries to rise, but human muscles have been
pushed beyond their endurance.

	At Golgotha, the beam is placed on the ground and Jesus is
quickly thrown backward with His shoulders against the wood. The
legionnaire feels for the depression at the front of the wrist.
He drives a heavy, square, wrought-iron nail through the wrist
and deep is the wood. Quickly, he moves to the other side and
repeats the action, being carefull not to pull the arms too
tightly, but to allow some flextion and movement. The beam is
then lifted in place at the top of the posts and the titulus
reading “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews” is nailed in place.

	The left foot is pressed backward against the right foot,
and with both feet extended, toes down, a nail is driven through
the arch of each. As he pushes Himself upward to avoid the
streching torment, He places His full weight on the nail through
His feet. Again there is the searing agony of the nail through
His feet. Again there is the searing agony of the nail tearing
through the nerves between the metatarsal bones through the feet.

	As the arms fatigue, great waves of cramps sweep over the
muscles, knotting them in deep, relentless, throbbing pain. With
these cramps comes the inability to push Himself upward. Hanging
by His arms, the pectoral muscles are unable to act. Air can be
drawn into the lungs, but cannot be exhaled. Jesus fights to
raise Himself in order to get even one short breath. Finally,
carbon dioxide builds up in the lungs and in the blood stream and
the cramps partially subside. Spasmodically, He is able to push
Himself upward to exhale and bring in the life-giving oxygen.

	Hours of this limitless pain, cycles of twisting,
jointrending cramps, intermittent partial asphixiation, searing
pain as tissue is torn from His lacerated back as He moves up and
down against the rough timber. Then another agony begins. A deep
crushing pain deep in the chest as the pericardium slowly fills
with serum and begins to compress the heart.

	The compressed heart is struggling to pump heavy, thick,
slugglish blood into the tissues - the tourtured lungs are making
a frantic effort to gasp in small gulps of air. The markedly
dehydrated tissues send their flood of stimuli to the brain.
Jesus gasps, “I thirst.”

	He can feel the chill of death creeping through His tissues.
With one last surge of strength, He once again presses His torn
feet against the nail, straightens His legs, takes a deeper
breath, and utters His seventh and last cry, “Father, into thy
hands I commit my spirit.”

	Apparently to make doubtly sure of death, the legionnaire
drove his lance through the fifth interspace between the ribs,
upward through the pericardium and into the heart. Immediately
there came out blood and water. We, therefore, have rather
conclusive postmortem evidence that Out Lord died, not the usual
crucifixion death by suffocation, but of heart failure due to
shock and constriction of the heart by fluid in the pericardium.   

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© 1996 Christian Teens Online

-Condensed from "The Crucifixion of Jesus" by C. Truman Davis, M.S. March, 1965 and quoted by Bill Gothard in Men's Manual, Institute in Basic Life Pricipiles, Inc., Box One, Oak Brook, Ill. 60521, pp. 146-147.