The Agony of the Cross of Christ

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Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane

After the Last Supper, Jesus went with his disciples to the Mount of Olives - specifically, the Garden of Gethsemane. There, Jesus prayed all night. Now, during that process he was anticipating the events of the next day. Since He knew the amount of suffering He was going to have to endure, He was quite naturally experiencing a great deal of psychological stress. The gospels tell us Jesus began to sweat blood at this point. Is this true?

What actually happens is that severe anxiety causes the release of chemicals that break down the capillaries in the sweat glands. As a result, there's a small amount of bleeding into these glands, and the sweat comes out tinged with blood. It's definitely not a lot of blood, just a very, very small amount.

What this does to the skin is to make it extremely fragile so that when Jesus was flogged by the Roman soldiers the next day, the skin would be very, very sensitive.

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Jesus' Floggings

Roman floggings were known to be very, very brutal. They usually consisted of 39 lashes but frequently were a lot more than that, depending on the mood of the soldier applying the blows. The soldier would use a whip of braided leather thongs with metal balls woven into them. When the whip would strike the flesh, these balls would cause deep bruises or contusions, which would break open with further blows. The whip had pieces of sharp bone as well, which would cut the flesh severely. The back would be so shredded that part of the spine was sometimes exposed because of the deep, deep cuts. The whippings would have gone all the way from the shoulders down to the back, the buttocks and the back of the legs. As the flogging continued, the lacerations would tear into the underlying skeletal muscles and produce quivering ribbons of bleeding flesh.

A third century historian by the name of Eusebias described a flogging by saying, "the sufferer's veins were laid bare, and the very muscles, sinews and bowels of the victim were open to exposure."

Many people would die from this kind of beating even before they would be crucified. Perhaps the pain would result in hypovolemic shock. (the effects of loosing a large amount of blood)




The results are 4 things:

1. The heart races to pump blood that's not there

2. The blood pressure drops - causing fainting or collapse

3. The kidneys stop producing urine to maintain what volume is left

4. The body becomes very thirsty as the body craves fluids to replace the lost blood

Jesus was in hypovolemic shock as he carried the cross to the execution site at Calvary. He collapsed….. Later, we read that Jesus said "I thirst". Jesus was already in serious to critical condition before the nails were driven through His hands and feet.

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The Agony of the Cross

Just as there were many who were appalled at him -- his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any man and his form marred beyond human likeness-- Isaiah 52:14

At the site of the crucifixion, the following would have taken place:

· Jesus was laid down and his hands would have been nailed in the outstretched position to the horizontal beam

· The vertical beam was permanently set in the ground

· The nails were spikes - five to seven inches long - and tapered to a sharp point.

· The spikes were driven through the wrists (if they were driven through the palms, as the pictures show, the weight would have caused the skin to tear and the arms would have fallen of the cross. However, the wrists were considered part of the hand in the language of the day)

· The spike would be driven through and crush the main vein running out of the hand - causing "excruciating" pain. This word "excruciating" means "out of the cross". They actually created a new word because nothing in the language could describe the intense anguish caused during the crucifixion.

· Next, Jesus was hoisted and the crossbar was attached to the vertical stake and spikes were driven through the feet - crushing the nerves - creating more "excruciating" pain

· The result of hanging on the cross were the arms were stretched, probably at least 6 inches in length, and both shoulders would have been dislocated

· A slow, painful and agonizing death - caused by asphyxiation would result from crucifixions

· The stresses on the muscles and diaphragm put the chest in the inhaled position

· To exhale, the individual must push up on his feet so the tension on the muscle would relieve for a moment

· This would result in the spike tearing through the foot, locking up the tarsal bones

· This process would be repeated - each time pushing up to exhale, scraping His bloodied back against the coarse wood of the cross

· This would continue until complete exhaustion would take over and the person wouldn't be able to push up and breathe anymore

· Before He died, the hypovolemic shock would have caused a sustained rapid heart rate that would have contributed to heart failure, resulting in the collection of fluid in the membrane around the heart and around the lungs

· The Roman soldier probably drove his spear through the right side of the body, through the right lung and through the heart. Clear fluid, like water, would have come out, followed by a large volume of blood.

· John reported in his gospel that "blood and water" came out - not "water and blood" - the correct order of fluids, but in the Greek, the words were listed in order of prominence - not sequence. ·

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