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What Killed Christ?

Updated on September 9, 2010

What Killed Christ?

Keep in mind that what I will present is just another view of what killed Christ – no one knows for sure. The Bible is very clear that He was crucified, died, and was resurrected in order to fulfill the Old Testament requirements that God required for eternal life in heaven. Matthew 5:17 (ASV) Think not that I came to destroy the law or the prophets: I came not to destroy, but to fulfil.

The first response to what killed Christ would be crucifixion, but was this just the final step to His death? To find out, it will be necessary to go back to the beginning of the total process that leads to the crucifixion, which is the scourging.

There is another element that also has to be considered as you read this article; Christ died less than 6 hours after His crucifixion. Normally, a person lasted a least 24 hours or longer. Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor at that time was even surprised at the early death of Christ. Add to that the fact that a number of those being crucified were suffering from shock, blood loss, sepsis-also known as blood poisoning, heart attacks, and the best known – asphyxiation.

But, the question is, did Christ die from any of the above causes?

The first thing that happens after the trial was the scourging. The whip, or scourge, was a made of leather that ended with leather strips. The item that you might compare it with is the “cat of nine tales”. Attached to the ends of these leather strips were metal balls. Christ, or any prisoner for that matter, was tied to a post. After that, the scourging began. Four solders and a centurion were in charge of the scourging. It was the responsibly of the soldiers to do the scourging and the responsibly of the centurion to watch the prisoner to make sure he wasn’t going to faint or die – they wanted to torture him, not kill him. (There were no rules to guide them on how long the prisoner could be scourged, and they beat him just as long as they wanted.)

The first blows of the scourge usually produced welts, tore open the skin in some places, and ruptured the capillaries. After that, the blood vessels were ruptured as the scourging continued, and of course, more skin was torn. Next, the arteries were ruptured, and by this time, the skin hung from the prisoners back in strips. Blood was pouring out, and the back was nothing but exposed meat by this time. But, as long as the prisoner was conscious and alive, the beating went on, until the centurion stopped it.

Normally, after the scourging, the prisoner was required to carry the crossbeam to the place of the crucifixion. (The crossbeam weighed between 75-110 lbs.) In the situation of Christ, there was one more step to be taken before He was required the carry His crossbeam to Golgotha.

Crowns of thorns were placed on His head, causing great pain, and of course, the loss of more blood. These were not the short thorns that you see on Rose Bushes, but long thorns about one inch long, like the ones on the orange trees in our backyard when we were missionaries in Puerto Rico. Christ was then clothed in a robe. At a later time, the robe was tore from His body, and this may have caused the blood to start flowing again.

In many of the pictures portraying Christ’s walk to Golgotha you see Christ carrying the whole cross, but this may be an error. Based on the custom of that day, He had to carry the 110-pound cross-beam (or horizontal piece). After the arrival at Golgotha, He would have been attached to the cross beam and that cross beam would than be attached to the vertical piece. It’s very likely that the vertical piece was already in the ground.

It was probably once the crossbeam had been attached to the vertical piece that Christ was then nailed to the cross. Actually, stating He was nailed to the cross is not really the case; He was spiked to the cross. The spike was between 4 -7 inches long, with the top part being about 5/8 of an inch squared, tapered to the bottom end. Another controversy is where were the spikes placed and what was the purpose of the spikes. Usually, it’s normal to think the spikes where driven though the palm of the hand and though the feet, but this may not be accurate. “Hand” at that time, could be referring to the arm in general. The most common placement of the spike was just above the wrist where the bones of the forearm met. (You can feel this bone in your own arm: By placing the fingers on top of the forearm you can feel two bones, and when you get to the point just above the wrist, you can feel where they are attached to the wrist.) By placing the spike there, it was not likely the flesh would tear and the bone structure would hold the body weight of the crucified person.

However, using the spikes just to hold the victim in place was not the primary reason for their use. It was a method of torture. If placed correctly, the spikes were place next to a nerve. Each time the victim moved an excruciating pain would go through the body.

So, we know Christ went through all the tortures that were associated with crucifixion, plus some, such as the crown of thorns. But, did any of this cause his death? We don’t really know, but here is a THEORY that has been suggested by a Christian doctor, Dr. C. Truman Davis who is nationally respected Ophthalmologist, Vice President of the American Association of Ophthalmology and the founder and president of Trinity Christian School in Mesa, Arizona. Could Christ have had a heart aneurysm? (Sometimes known as a broken heart. I had a relative who died this way, so it is feasible.) His reasoning, from a medical view, is logical from two points: First, He is basing his idea on the fact that Christ knew in advance He was dying. Luke 23:44-46 (ASV) And it was now about the sixth hour, and a darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour, 45 the sun's light failing: and the veil of the temple was rent in the midst. 46 And Jesus, crying with a loud voice, said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said this, he gave up the ghost. Second, that Christ was able to speak, and a person who is suffocating does not have enough breath to utter a complete sentence. Neither event, knowing the moment of death or speaking would have been possible in any of the other forms of death associated with crucifixion. Just in case you may not know what an aneurysm is, here is a brief explanation – it’s the thinning of a blood vessel or artery wall, and in this case in the heart. To visualize how an aneurysm might work: squeeze an inflated balloon in a particular spot, and you can see the wall of the balloon becomes thinner in that spot. If you squeeze the balloon too hard, it will “pop”. This is what happens to an aneurysm, if the blood pressure increases too much, the blood vessel or artery will “pop” allowing the blood to spill out.

Stress can cause an aneurysm and if your father had rejected you and at the same time you were bearing all the sins of the world, this could very easily cause a heart aneurysm, or break your heart.

But, remember, the bottom line isn’t going to change, regardless of how Christ died. He died on the cross, He died for the sins of each person, and if that person accepts Christ’s sacrifice as his own, then that person has fulfilled the demands of God and is granted eternal life in heaven. And also remember that Christ was resurrected and because he was, we as Christian individuals also have the promise of a resurrection.



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    • drpastorcarlotta profile image

      Pastor Dr. Carlotta Boles 

      7 years ago from BREAKOUT MINISTRIES, INC. KC

      Very interesting hub! It made me cry, again. Be Blessed!! If you have some time, pls come visit me.


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