(1) How to prove the resurrection? (2) Exhibit #4: Jesus was crucified under Pilate 
(3) Exhibit #5: Roman crucifixion led to death  (4) Exhibit #6: Jesus died on the cross
(5) Exhibit #7: The evidence of the missing body  (6) Exhibit #8: The resurrection appearances
(7) The resurrection creed: 1 Corinthians 15:3-8 (8) Exhibit #9: Would you die for a lie?:
(9) Exhibit #10: The conversion of Saul to Paul

(10) Exhibit #11: The conversion of James

(11) Exhibit #12: Not enough faith for alternative explanations 
5. Did the Resurrection Really Happen? (4)

Exhibit #6: Jesus Died on the Cross

An idea popular among non-believers over the centuries has been called the swoon theory. In different variations this theory claims Jesus during the crucifixion did not really die, He only appeared to be dead, possibly because He had been drugged, but revived while in the tomb. It is no miracle for a living man to walk out of a tomb. Objectively, however, evidence that Jesus really died on the cross is quite overwhelming:

  • The Roman soldiers were professionals. The success of the Roman Empire was founded upon the iron discipline of its army. Generally, soldiers were lifetime professionals, skilled in dealing out death. The group of soldiers that crucified Jesus was likely a Roman crucifixion team, well experienced in the procedure. So they knew very well what they were doing. They knew how to position and nail a person to the cross and they knew when he had died. Roman army rule would ensure no mistakes. If a soldier made a mistake in properly administering a punishment, Roman rule would impose that same punishment on the fumbling soldier. In other words, if a Roman soldier allowed a victim to survive crucifixion, he would be the next to be crucified. Yes, these soldiers were highly motivated to do their job right! Of the thousands of Roman crucifixions, no case has ever been found, in either written documents or oral traditions, where the victim survived.
  • The Jews wanted Jesus to die. The opponents of Jesus were watching. They had exerted tremendous effort to have Jesus arrested and convicted. It is no stretch of the imagination to know that they wanted to be absolutely certain that Jesus died on the cross. So they likely verified that themselves. And the Jews never disputed Jesus’ death either.
  • The gospels and Paul testify to his death.  All gospels explicitly mention Jesus’ death:
    • Mark 15:37: “With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last.”
    • Matthew 27:50: “he [Jesus] gave up his spirit.”
    • Luke 21:46: “When he had said this, he breathed his last.”
    • John 19:30: “With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.”
    • 1 Corinthians 15: “….that Christ died for our sins….”
  • The soldiers did not break His legs. John 19:32-33 reads: “The soldiers therefore came and broke the legs of the first man who had been crucified with Jesus, and then those of the other. But when they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs.” The standard procedure to complete a Roman crucifixion was to break the victim’s legs below the knees (called crucifracture) so that he could not lift himself to exhale. The victim would then be asphyxiated as his lungs filled with carbon dioxide. They did break the legs of the two criminals. Yet the professional Roman executioners declared Christ dead without breaking His legs. There was no doubt in their minds.
  • The piercing of Jesus. In John 19:34 we read: “Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water.” When His side was pierced with a spear, water and blood flowed out. The best evidence suggests that this was a thrust given by a Roman soldier to ensure death. The spear entered through the rib cage and pierced His right lung, the sack around the heart, and the heart itself, releasing both blood and pleural fluids. Medical analysis suggests the flow of water-like fluids indicates Jesus was dead before this wound was inflicted. If not, the final wound to His side would have been fatal in itself.
  • Pilate’s reaction to Jesus death. Mark 15:44-45 records: “Pilate was surprised to hear that he was already dead. Summoning the centurion, he asked him if Jesus had already died. When he learned from the centurion that it was so, he gave the body to Joseph.” So even Pilate himself made sure Jesus was dead.

Read on about: (5) Exhibit #7: The evidence of the missing body 


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