The Death of Christ

One of the things that always escaped me for most of my life was why Christ died on the cross.  I’m not talking about his purpose in dying, but rather, what killed him?  My mental image came from movies of the day, when you’d watch Ben-Hur and other great classics around Easter.  Here was my image of what happened:

Christ went to get flogged by the Romans.  This was painful, but not a big deal.  I saw some leather straps hit his skin, leaving superficial cuts and welts.  No biggie.  Then there was the crown of thorns thing.  It looked pretty painful, and I figured it was probably worse than the flogging.  Then he got nailed to the cross.  I figured most people starved to death up there.  I guessed a few bled to death, maybe, but I really didn’t see how breaking someone’s legs sped up the process.  I just didn’t get what the cause of death is.

I recently read an article by Frank Turek that reminded me of what really happened.  This explains what actually happened, and how truly horrible His death was.  If you’ve seen The Passion of the Christ, you know what the flogging was really like.  It turned his back into hamburger.  It makes stumbling make a lot more sense.  Christ wasn’t a weakling, he was a powerfully built carpenter.  Severe blood loss will sap your strength.  Then He suffocated to death.

I always kind of wondered about that, but this morning I tried something.  If you pay attention as you breath, you’ll notice that your chest rises and falls with each breath.  Now think about the angle of the arms in a crucifiction.  That would probably tend to pull the ribcage up.  Try breathing.  Get a sense of how your ribcage moves as you inhale and exhale.  Now, deliberately stop your ribcage from falling as you exhale.  Take a few breaths.  Your ribcage will rise further, but you’ll quickly start feeling uncomfortable as you find you CAN’T exhale properly.  Inhaling is easy… except your lungs are full of air.  Letting your chest drop is a wonderful, sweet relief.

Jesus was beaten horribly, perhaps almost dead when they stopped.  He had no strength to rise up and exhale.  He suffocated in agony.


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