How Did Jesus Die?

Jesus being lowered down off the cross by soldiers after He died on the cross

Dear Pastor Andy, I know you believe that he died on the cross, but what was the actual cause of death? Asphyxiation, blood clot, shock…? Was it a natural cause or did Jesus just voluntarily cease to live? The reason I ask is because I once read a similar question on this topic on Yahoo Answers, and there didn’t seem to be any answers that the majority of people liked. Everyone got thumbs down. So what gives? What is the answer?

My Reply:
Hey, OK, so I checked out the question you mentioned on Yahoo Answers, and let me see if I can answer that question, as well as yours, and bring them together:

If you’ve ever read Lee Strobel’s “The Case for Christ”, or seen Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of Christ”, then you’ve seen how beat up Jesus was before going to the cross. Whipping and beating the prisoner was actually common. However, they did more to Jesus than they would to a common prisoner. Why? For one, Jesus claimed to be a king, and anybody who claims a kingdom other than the Roman Empire was considered a threat and competition. So they really beat Jesus to a pulp (whips with heavy, metal balls on the ends, sharp bones sticking out that would pull the skin off on the recoil; being stricken in the head with a staff, etc.). Seriously, many others who have ever received as much beating as did Jesus, often ended up with their bowels showing, and died before even getting to the cross, either by bleeding out or going into shock. Some have commented that it’s amazing that Jesus was able to even stand at all before Pilate after it all (have you ever worn a cotton shirt over a really bad wound or bad sunburn? Imagine a billion times worse when they put the cloth over His torn skin). Many at that time were even amazed He survived just the beatings alone.

Jesus also received a brutal amount of mocking, which was also in line with one who was a “supposed” prophet (it wasn’t until after Jesus died on the cross that many realized who He really was/is). So they were not only beating Him up physically, but also mentally and emotionally (or trying to).

So the beatings were just the first part. Then Jesus, who was amazingly even standing, had to carry his own cross-bar of the cross to the top of a hill (said to be about a mile’s walk, I think). Have you ever tried to move a fallen tree? Imagine the weight of that thing on your back, then with a body that’s probably almost completely numb. Once finally at the top of the hill, the Roman soldiers nailed his wrists and Achilles heals together onto the wooden poles (cross), and hoisted him up (which is said to create so much pain that even Morphine would have no effect). The positioning of his arms would have dislocated his shoulders and opened up His lungs so he couldn’t breathe. His legs, positioned in a bent poise, were all He had to push Himself up so His lungs could breathe out. The Romans also had a sponge dipped in vinegar, which would’ve helped numb the pain, but Jesus refused it. I wouldn’t doubt some of the others would’ve taken it in an instant!

Speaking of others on the cross, the Jews had a rule that nobody could die on the Sabbath (which was that evening). So the soldiers would break the legs of the hanging people so that they could no longer push themselves up to breathe. But Jesus gave up His life before they could do that (fulfilled prophesy).

So a little bit after 3:00 pm, Jesus cried out to the Father and gave up His Spirit.

So how did Jesus die? Did He die from the beatings and the cross? Yeah, He bled out, suffocated, was in shock, and He was in unimaginable pain. But ultimately, He gave Himself up to the Father.

Now, the original question compared Jesus’ death to people who have themselves crucified, yet don’t die. Many cultures, such as the Philippines’, take spiritual disciplines to an extreme level on Good Friday. It’s really odd though, because they do it for the repentant of sins…they don’t think they’re worthy of forgiveness until they do this (odd, very unbiblical). Anyway, many of them do actually have themselves nailed to a cross, (but they go through the palms, as the pictures show, not through the wrists, as Jesus actually was – same for the feet), but they won’t go through the beating part (some will walk a mile back and forth through people lightly whipping them, but nothing like the mob beating that Jesus got).

So why do these people get crucified and not die? I’m sure if they’re left up there long enough, they would. Why did Jesus die so quickly? After reading all this, your question shouldn’t be “why DID Jesus die”, but “What took Him so long to die”.

—Pastor Andy G.


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