True News 4 U — Passover 2020 — Part Four
Doctor Reveals Shocking Medical Details About Crucifixion That Helped Him Fully Appreciate Christ’s Suffering
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Christians all know Christ died for them on the cross. But a doctor here in Indianapolis who studied crucifixion for a decade says until you understand what Jesus went through medically, it’s hard to fully appreciate just how much He suffered to pay for the sins of mankind.
“It was the worst form of death that was imaginable,” Dr. Joseph Bergeron, the author of “The Crucifixion of Jesus,” said. “And the Romans had been using it for three centuries by the time Jesus came along, so it was well perfected.” Doctor Rules Out Suffocation Bergeron told CBN News, “Most often on Easter we hear talks about how Jesus suffocated while He was on the cross.” However, the doctor says suffocation doesn’t gel with the Gospel accounts of Jesus talking on the cross. “He talked to the Apostle John, for example. He spoke to the thieves who were crucified with Him. When you’re suffocating and struggling for your last breath, you have no interest in carrying on a conversation,” he argued. And though that would be a bad way to die, the Romans made sure such a relatively quick death wouldn’t happen so that those they crucified suffered much longer. “There are literary references to people being on the cross for a week. When you’re suffocating, you’re just not going to last that long,” the doctor shared, adding, “With crucifixion, it was a slow and torturous death.” Big Clue in Christ’s Own Words: ‘This is My Blood That’s Poured Out…’ The real cause of death shows up in Christ’s own prophetic words at the Last Supper. “Jesus told us how He was going to die. He said ‘this is my blood that’s poured out for the remission of sins.’ That’s not suffocation. That’s bleeding to death. That’s shock. That’s the complications of shock.” The precise medical term Bergeron uses is “traumatic hemorrhagic shock.” Christ knowing such a grim death was racing towards Him would be one explanation for the odd occurrence of Him sweating blood in the garden of Gethsemane. Jesus in Traumatic Anguish Before the Physical Suffering Began “And to be honest with you, I never really understood that or even thought it happened,” Bergeron admitted. “But in studying the crucifixion extensively over the last 10 years, I’ve come to understand that sweating blood does actually occur. There’ve been very few cases – just a handful. They’re always before severe injury, the threat of injury, and usually before execution. That Jesus sweat drops of blood meant that He fully understood what was about to happen to Him.” And then it began as Jesus was taken captive and led off to two groups of tormentors. The Jews and Romans both bludgeoned and tore His flesh in two vicious beatings. Bergeron said of those Jews, “Caiaphas and the Sanhedrin convicted Him of blasphemy, which was punishable by death.” But under Roman rule the Jews had no authority to execute, so they physically and brutally punished Him. Then a whole company of Roman soldiers beat Him to within an inch of His life. What Riled the Romans The author explained, “Now you have to understand that Romans didn’t like the Jews to begin with. They were anti-Semitic. And for this person who’s charge was basically political insurrection: naming Himself King of the Jews, that would have heightened their anger and worsened the beating that He had experienced from Roman soldiers.” Bergeron said of Jesus, “And so His beating exceeded what was typical for crucifixion victims. And He had extensive blood loss and tissue injury from that.” So the shock began to set in before Christ reached Calvary. Why He Couldn’t Carry the Cross “It looked like He was beginning to experience shock just walking there. Because He couldn’t carry part of the cross to the crucifixion site. He would have been expected to do that. Everybody else did, but He could not,” Bergeron said. That led the doctor to diagnose, “So He was getting weak and going into shock at that time more likely than not.” Then came just about the most painful and humiliating execution the Romans could administer. Crucifixion ‘Considered Obscene’ “It was considered obscene,” Bergeron shared. “A Roman citizen wouldn’t ever be crucified. It was meant for political insurgents, rank criminals and escaped slaves.” It all punished Jesus’ body with a shock so traumatic as to kill him hours sooner than most people crucified. The doctor explained shock would stop Christ’s blood from clotting. “This is a very ominous complication, difficult to control even in modern trauma centers,” he shared from his years of medical experience. “In Jesus’ time, there would be no treatment and it would lead to rapid death. And that explains why Jesus died so rapidly: six hours, rather than days, which could be the case very often.” Dying Rapidly, but Horribly The Son of God died rapidly, but horribly. Which leaves Bergeron in awe of the sacrifice. He told CBN News in a quiet, reverent tone, “That He would become a human being and come here and do that to rectify our relationship as humans with God, to redefine it and restore us to fellowship with God, it’s an amazing thing.” And on that cross, Jesus Christ showed how simple it is to find salvation in Him. Then this doctor and man of faith shared, “The prayer to know God is so simple. It’s like the thief on the cross. He didn’t know what to say, so just: ‘please remember me.’ And a sincere prayer from anyone is never turned away. Jesus told him that he would be in paradise that day.” Bergeron realizes it’s tough to face all the gory details of Christ’s death. But he believes it can help us love and respect all the more a God willing to come down to earth and face such pain and agony so humans could be cleansed from their sins and spend eternity with Him.
The following is an excerpt from a booklet titled “The Life of Jesus - Arrest and Crucifixion” by Dr. Ron Charles. He has written several books and this one caught my eye a few years ago. He has a lot more in his booklet. It is worth your time to read his full booklet on this topic. If you are interested in getting this booklet, just click on the book cover below.
AN INDEPTH LOOK AT THE FLOGGINGS
Later, the Gospel of John begins to emphasize that Jesus had been accused and sentenced to death by crucifixion because the Jews had threatened Pilate saying that if he did not convict Jesus and condemn him to death, then he was not Caesar's friend, implying that they would accuse Pilate of treason. Pilate, fearing that he would be accused of treason before Sejanus’ tribunal reluctantly submitted to the wishes of the Jews and sent Jesus away to be flogged and crucified.
Floggings for those convicted of treason against the state of Rome were carried out in a lower, or below street level, room in the Fortress of Antonia. Every person condemned to death by crucifixion was first flogged. This was a preliminary punishment demanded by Roman law. The instrument generally used in flogging was a short whip called a flagellum or flagrum. The whip had several (from 9 to 20) braided leather thongs of variable lengths, in which iron chips, pottery shreds, and sharp pieces of bone were woven into the braided thongs at intervals. At the very end of each braided leather strap was attached a small steel ball. Although the Bible does not record the number of strikes to which Jesus was subjected, we do know that a minimum of 100 up to a maximum of 200 strikes was generally the number reserved for those convicted of treason and condemned to crucifixion. If in fact the flagrum had a count of 12 braided leather thongs and Jesus suffered the minimum prescribed strikes of 100, Jesus would have been subjected to as many as 1200 individual stripes.
In preparation for flogging, the prisoner was stripped of all clothing and was restrained by being forced to bend over a 1 meter tall, round (about 18"-24" in diameter) stone pedestal, whereupon his wrists were tightly chained to his ankles throughout the flogging, to prevent him from moving. Crucifixion was a very expensive form of capital punishment—extra expense for additional guards, crowd control, security guard at the crucifixion site and so on. Therefore, it was to Rome's financial advantage for the victim to die before the time of crucifixion. So, an all-out effort was made by the Romans in an attempt to kill the victim before his crucifixion date.
Since the scourging and crucifixion was administered under the direction of the Roman military, the Roman Governor General Phinius Copornicus was the ranking Roman administrator in charge of this portion of Jesus’ ordeal. Hence, the record of Pracitius, the court historian/scribe for the Governor General, was the primary source used in detailing Jesus’ scourging and crucifixion (Sirilius was also present at the scourging and crucifixion, but his record of the scourging and crucifixion was not as detailed as Pracitius' account). Before using the flagrum, a Roman legionnaire would beat the victim (only in cases where the condemned had been convicted of treason) with a thick wooden stave. The number of blows was not consistent, so it could range from 10 blows to as many as 75. The purpose for the beating was to force the blood from the muscles to the surface of the skin, so that the whip could inflect the maximum amount of damage. In most cases where the victim was convicted of treason the number of blows was generally between 50 and 75.
When the Roman legionnaire in charge of the flogging determined that the blood had risen close enough to the surface of the skin to maximize flogging by the flagrum, he stepped aside and directed the flogging. Four strong gladiator slaves who had distinguished themselves in the arena blood games administered the flogging. The process involved all four. Each gladiator was allowed 10 strikes at a time until the strike allotment, determined by either the Roman Procurator, Pontius Pilate, the Governor General, Phinius Copornicus, or the administering Roman legionnaire (the legionnaire who had beaten the prisoner with the wooden stave), had been administered, or the prisoner died. After each strike, the flagrum was dipped into salt water, which was intended to increase agony of the prisoner. The Roman government was generous when it came to the gladiators who were chosen to administer treason floggings, for if a gladiator could kill the condemned with his allotted strikes, the gladiator would receive either a talent of gold (about 35 kilos) or the victim's weight in silver—the gladiator’s choice. Either would have been enough for him to buy his freedom and then live comfortably for the rest of his life on what money remained. Thus, each of the four tried to the best of his ability to kill the prisoner with the strikes that he had been allotted.
There was no reprieve if the prisoner collapsed into unconsciousness. If this happened, the prisoner would be revived and then the flogging would be continued. The heavy whip was brought down with full force again and again across Jesus’ naked shoulders, back, buttocks, and legs; reaching around the body on the sides as well as the face, causing deep contusions and lacerating the skin and subcutaneous tissue. Before long the skin was hanging in quivering ribbons, exposing the underlying skeleton, backbone and skull, and some internal organs. In essence, the entire area that was being flogged became an unrecognizable mass of torn, bleeding tissue. Fifty strikes were administered to Jesus’ back. He was then turned over and fifty more were administered to his front (Pracitius notes that Jesus’ face and sexual organs were completely gone, internal organs were exposed and that Jesus was totally unrecognizable as a man, Sirilius says that of the more than 200 scourgings that he had witnessed, Jesus was mutilated and disfigured more than any). After the flogging was complete, the victim was unshackled. Victims who did not die during the flogging were determined by the Romans to be destined by the gods to face death by crucifixion. So, to prevent the victim from bleeding to death so that he could face crucifixion, the flow of blood had to be stopped. Hence, Jesus’ entire body was immersed in a vat of salt water. The pain was excruciating, but the process did check the unimpeded flow of blood.
Yet, throughout this whole ordeal, Jesus did not say a word. He did not cry out to His Father saying, "It is enough. Father help Me." And the Father would have helped Him. But Jesus said nothing. In the face of this most horrifying beating, Jesus did not open His mouth. In fact, the last time that Jesus had said anything was when He was interrogated by Pilate. Why didn't Jesus say anything? Why didn't He cry out? The reason why He did not cry out was because of His love for us. He knew that Isaiah had prophesied (Isaiah 53:4-7). He knew that by the stripes that were laid upon His body that we have a provision for healing. He knew that if He cried out or begged for mercy or said anything in protest that we could never have healing for our bodies. If He said one thing, we would never have provision for the healing of our heart attacks, cancer, tuberculosis, or arthritis. If He cried out in pain and in protest only one time, then our provision for the healing of bodies, emotions, spirit, and/or mentally would forever be lost.
So, because of His love for us, He said nothing, absorbing the pain and the agony in silence. He saw all of us across the centuries and felt our pain, suffering and anxiety as a result of sickness, disease and injury and knew that in order for us to have a chance for healing, respite, and restoration He had to remain silent. There is no greater love than His. He endured the stripes for us and remained silent for us, because of His matchless and unparalleled love for us—you and me.
In Jesus’ case, after the beating, the Roman soldiers, (Pracitius estimates that there were approximately 600 soldiers who participated) amused that this weakened mass of torn tissue and blood had claimed to be a king, began to mock him by placing a scarlet or deep purple robe (perhaps a cloak of one of the legionnaires) on his shoulders, a crown of thorns on his head, and a wooden staff as a scepter in his right hand. They knelt before him and mockingly paid homage by saying, “Hail, King of the Jews.” They spat on Him, they beat His head that contained the crown of thorns, that covered the entire scalp, with the wooden staff, driving the 2 inch long thorns deep into the scalp, causing severe bleeding and agonizing headaches, and they ripped His beard by the handfuls out of the mass of torn flesh that used to be His face, exposing His jaw bone and teeth. Finally, the Roman soldiers tired of their sadistic sport and tore the robe from Jesus’ back. Already having adhered to the clots of blood and serum in the wounds, the robe’s removal caused excruciating pain.
The severity of the beating is not detailed in the Gospels. However, the Old Testament book of Isaiah (chapters 50, 52, and 53) mentions that Jesus was beaten so severely that His form did not look like that of a human being. People were appalled to look at Him. Isaiah implies that Jesus was more marred than any man who had ever been marred and yet lived and more marred than any man who will ever live. He was so severely beaten that people were sickened to look at Him.
CRUCIFIXION - MOST CRUEL AND DISGRACEFUL DEATH
Although crucifixion was used by the early Babylonians and Assyrians, the type of crucifixion used by the Romans probably began with the Persians. Alexander the Great introduced the practice to Egypt and Carthage, and the Romans appeared to have learned it from the Carthaginians. While the Romans did not invent crucifixion, they perfected it as a form of torture and capital punishment. It was designed to produce a slow death with maximum pain and suffering. It was one of the most disgraceful and cruel methods of execution ever devised by man. The cross commonly preferred by the Romans was called the low tau cross. In this cross the vertical piece did not extend beyond the horizontal piece. However, the Roman crucifixion practices adapted and conformed to the accepted practice of a particular region. Therefore, conforming to the traditional crucifixion practice of the east, the Romans very well could have used the Latin cross, with the vertical piece extending above the horizontal piece, in Jesus’ case, considering it was the most commonly used cross in the east.
In Jerusalem, the place of crucifixion (the cavra or calvary—-in the Hebrew language this was called the golgotha) was located outside the city walls, in a valley called Gehenna, which served not only as the place of crucifixion, but also as the garbage dump for the city of Jerusalem. Only the immediate family members (no more than three at a time) and in some cases a few of the condemned’s accusers (in the case of Jesus this would be the priests and Sadducees), could be present at the actual crucifixion site. These accusers would only be allowed at the crucifixion site after the condemned prisoners had been crucified and only for the first three hours after crucifixion. As many people as wanted to could watch the proceedings from the cliff tops that surrounded the valley of Gehenna.
This valley of Gehenna was called “the valley of (the sons of) Hinnom” in the Old Testament. During the reigns of Ahaz and Manasseh, human sacrifices were offered in the valley to the god, Molech. For centuries the valley had been associated with and had been central to the worship of numerous pagan gods. In the Gospels the name Gehenna was many times translated hell or hades because fires were continually burning in the valley to dispose of garbage and maggots and all kinds of vermin were always present—a typical picture of what hell was perceived to be like at that time. At the place of crucifixion, the cavra or the calvary, in Gehenna, pot holes had been chiseled out of the exposed rock, about 18 to 20 inches deep. The holes were carved out of the rock in a half-moon design and arrangement, about 8 to 10 feet apart. The far back row of holes began the half-moon design with each row thereafter following the same pattern until the half-moon design was filled. Vertical upright poles or stipes, were permanently fixed in holes. Most of the vertical stipes extended upward from the ground to a height of about seven to eight feet. At the top of the stipe a U-shaped groove, a mortise or tenon joint, was cut. Into this joint the crossbar would fit and be attached to the stipe.
Although death by crucifixion was by far the most painful death that was inflicted by the Romans, many times death was not directly caused by crucifixion itself. More times than not, the condemned died from exposure and from being eaten alive by scavengers. Gehenna was filled with vultures and other flesh eating birds as well as wild dogs and jackals that would eat the flesh off of the dying prisoner, long before he was dead (because the feet of the crucified victim were located less than a foot above the ground, the lower body of the victim was well within the reach of most scavenger animals). In fact, it was recorded by Pracitius that flesh eating birds were usually the first to inflict serious scavenger wounds; for generally within the first few hours after the condemned had been crucified, the birds would have already plucked out and eaten his eyes, while he was very much still alive. Considering that a condemned usually stayed fixed to the cross from two to 14 days before finally dying, and 21 days before removal from the cross, this slow ravaging of the flesh would have been more torturous than any mind can imagine (after death, all victims of crucifixion were forced to stay pinned to the cross for up to 21 days or until their bodies were either greatly decomposed or had been eaten by scavenging animals and fowl). The body and bones that remained were usually burned in the refuse fires of Gehenna. Seldom were victims who had been crucified for treason allowed to be buried. Consequently, it was very unusual for Jesus’ body to have been allowed to be entombed. In fact, it was so unusual that in the official Roman court records from all over the eastern Empire from one hundred years before and two hundred years after the death of Jesus, there were only three confirmed cases out of a total of 9,784 who had faced capital punishment by crucifixion, in which permission had been granted for the victim to be buried or entombed immediately after death, rather than letting the body be devoured and then the remains burned.
At the site of execution, by Roman law, the victim was offered a bitter drink of wine mixed with myrrh as a mild analgesic. Jesus refused this drink. The offender was then violently thrown to the ground on his back, with his arms outstretched along the patibulum. Heavy, square, wrought iron nails were then driven through the wrists deep into the wood, firmly attaching the wrists and hands to the crossbar. After the arms were fastened, the patibulum and the victim were lifted, together, onto the stipes.
After the crossbar was attached to the stipes, the titulus was attached. Next, a sedile or sedulum, a round wooden stake, about 1" in diameter, that served as a crude and cruel seat upon which the hip bones rested, was driven through the body of the victim and attached to the vertical stipes. There were two ways that a sedile was used by the Romans. 1). The Romans sedile was driven through the bladder area of the victim just below the hipbone and above the groin area of the offender, into the stipe. Upon this round wooden sedile, the raw hipbones and pelvic bones would balance; or 2). The body of the condemned would be racked and twisted 90° opposite his outstretched arms. Then the sedile would be driven through the fleshy part of the side of the buttocks, just below the hipbone, into the stipe. Again, the raw hipbone would balance on the round wooden sedile. The pain would have been unbearably excreting with every move of the body. Pacitius tells us that Jesus was twisted 90°, and the sedile was driven through the side of his buttocks and attached to the stipes, in order to hold the twisted body in place so that His feet could be nailed. With the body twisted 90° opposite the outstretched arms, Jesus’ feet were nailed to the vertical stipe. One foot was pressed backward against the other foot, and with both feet extended, toes pointing down, a nail was driven through the arch of each foot into the vertical stipe.
One of the most agonizing aspects of nailing the feet was that it affected every internal organ of the body of the crucified person. God created a wonderful machine when He created the human body. One of the phenomenon of the body is that the nerve endings that connect to every internal organ in the body collect at the bottom of the feet. When a person walks, the nerve endings are massaged and the nerves send messages to the organs encouraging them to function properly. This is why when a person is bed fast and is not able to walk, then generally they have everything wrong with them. If a foot is severed and the nerve ending severed, there is little effect upon the organs of the body. If the foot is punctured from beneath, like stepping on a nail, it also has little effect upon the organs because the puncture follows the route of the nerves. But if the foot is punctured from the top down, like with nailing the feet at crucifixion, the nerve endings are violently split apart and frayed. This sends an instant message of malfunction to the organs affected. Thus, when the nail(s) was/were driven into the feet of Jesus, instantaneously and simultaneously, Jesus had the symptoms, the effects and the pain of every malfunction, every disease, and every injury known to man to every internal organ in His body. Instantly and at the same time, Jesus had the symptoms and the pain of hundreds of malfunctions and diseases (not the disease or malfunction itself, but the pain and the symptom associated with the disease or malfunction) such as heart attack, brain cancer, gallbladder problems, migraine headache, coerces, diabetes, lung cancer, and so on. Yet Jesus said not a word. He remained silent as a lamb being slaughtered.
Again, why? He did it for us. Because of His unparalleled love for us, He chose to remain silent and not appeal to His Father for help and relief. He didn't have too; He chose too because of His love for us. In order for Him to be able to relate to and to sympathize with our pain and suffering He had to endure the same. There is nothing that we have or ever will go through that Jesus has not been there and suffered the same. He carried the full weight of our burdens, pain, suffering, turmoil, and pandemonium and conquered them all on our behalf. He suffered all for all, without a word of protest or consternation.
End of Excerpt from “The Life of Jesus - Arrest and Crucifixion” by Dr. Ron Charles.
After reading this historical account of the flogging and execution of Yeshua/Jesus on the cross, it is sobering and heartbreaking to learn more of the details of His suffering for mankind. Truly, Truly, He indeed laid we should take this time to examine ourselves and
This concludes Part Four.