Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Physical Suffering and Agony of Jesus on the Cross.

May the Month of the Virgin Mary.--->
<---Via Crucis or The Path of the Cross.

The true image of suffering of Christ on the Cross.

During the Passover feast we recall the death of Jesus. If we are going to be proclaiming His death, it's important that we know something about that death.
In this posting we will examine the final hours of Jesus Christ, His physical suffering and agony before death.

History of Crucifixion.

When we think of the word cross, what usually comes to mind is an upright beam projecting above a shorter cross piece 3. This is the form of the cross which traditional Christian art depicts Jesus dying upon. In fact, the Romans used five different types of crosses for crucifying people. It is unknown which type of the cross Jesus was crucified on.

The Greek word for cross is "stauros", and the Latin word is "crux". The word primarily means "an upright stake or beam, and secondarily a stake used as an instrument for punishment and execution."

The torture of the cross is of oriental origin. Was received from the Persians, Assyrians and Chaldeans, by the Greeks, Egyptians and Romans. Modified in various forms in the span of centuries.
At first it was a simple wood post. After was fixed a gallow (fork), of which the prisoner was suspended by the neck. Later he used a wooden cross (patibulum), taking a new look. Depending on how the transverse stick will hold to the vertical stick, originated three kinds of crosses:

The five different forms of the cross are:

•Crux Simplex - A single vertical stake on which the victim wasted or nailed.
•Crux Commissa - (St. Anthony's cross) in the form of a capital T.
•Crux Decussata - (St. Andrew's cross) in the form of the letter X.
•Crux Immissa - the traditional two beams t,
is the so-called Latin cross, we all know.
•Greek Cross - upright and length wise beams of the same length.

We know that in these final hours of His life Jesus was crucified.

But what exactly is a crucifixion?

The first known practice of crucifixion was by the Persians. Alexander the Great introduced the practice to the Phoenicians, Egyptians and Carthaginians. Alexander and his generals brought it back to the Mediterranean world to Egypt and to Carthage. The Romans apparently learned the practice from the Carthaginians and (as with almost everything the Romans did) rapidly developed a very high degree of efficiency and skill at it.
A number of Roman authors (Livy, Cicer, Tacitus) comment on crucifixion, and several innovations, modifications, and variations are described in the ancient literature.
Over time the Romans made several innovations and modifications in the method of crucifixion.

For instance, the upright portion of the cross (or stipes) could have the cross-arm (or patibulum) attached two or three feet below its top in what we commonly think of as the Latin cross.
The most common form used for our Lord's death, however, was the Tau cross, shaped like our T. In this cross the patibulum was placed in a notch at the top of the stipes. There is archeological evidence that it was on this type of cross that Jesus was crucified.

Without any historical or biblical proof, Medieval and Renaissance painters have given us our picture of Christ carrying the entire cross.
Many of the painters and most of the sculptors of crucifixion, also show the nails through the palms. Historical Roman accounts and experimental work have established that the nails were driven between the small bones of the wrists (radial and ulna) and not through the palms.
Nails driven through the palms will strip out between the fingers when made to support the weight of the human body.
The misconception may have come about through a misunderstanding of Jesus' words to Thomas, "Observe my hands." Anatomists, both modern and ancient, have always considered the wrist as part of the hand.

A titulus, or small sign, stating the victim's crime was usually placed on a staff, carried at the front of the procession from the prison, and later nailed to the cross so that it extended above the head.
This sign with its staff nailed to the top of the cross would have given it somewhat the characteristic form of the Latin cross.

Roman citizens were rarely crucified. Crucifixion was reserved for slaves, the lower classes and the worst types of criminals. The Christian tradition that says Peter was crucified, and Paul beheaded, agrees with the historical Roman practice of crucifixion.

Jesus had a very good Health.

It would be safe to think that Jesus was in excellent health. True, life as a carpenter was not luxurious and a way to become rich, but add to that a Mediterranean diet, which is said to be the healthiest in the world—and later the constant walking carrying the Father´s word, was vigorous enough to put him in reasonable health.

Yet, at the garden of Gethse­mane on the evening of Holy Thursday and morning of Good Friday, he underwent great emotional stress from being abandoned by friends, the thought of humiliation and a cruel death by crucifixion, that he produced bloodied beads of sweat.

This condition is called hematidrosis or hemihidrosis, where the veins and skin become tender from anguish that they break, mixing the blood with sweat.

Without sleep and have breakfast, and weary from walking about 2.5 miles back and forth between the sites of different trials, Jesus's body had become defenseless to the harsh scourging he would suffer hours later.

We have often contemplated the suffering and death of Jesus Christ through the Seven Last Words. But did we ever stop to think just how truly, physically painful it must have been for Him to be whipped, crowned with thorns, bear the cross, and have iron spikes driven into our hands and feet?

The word "excruciating" comes from the Latin, excruciatus, or "out of the cross."
In every true sense, Jesus's death was that, and so much more.

Preparing to Scourging.

In March 1965 Dr. C. Truman Davis wrote an article titled:
"A medical explanation of what Jesus endured on the day He died," published in Arizona Medicine by Arizona Medical Association.

Davis, an ophthalmologist, a pastor, and author of a book about medicine and the Bible, wrote that the flagrum, a short whip with small balls of lead tied near the ends of each thong, "is brought down with full force again and again across Jesus's shoulders, back, and legs. At first, the heavy thongs cut through the skin only."

Other writings have said about the scourging;

The Roman legionnaire steps forward with the flagrum (or flagellum) in his hand. This is a short whip consisting of several heavy, leather thongs with two small balls of lead attached near the ends of each.
The heavy whip is brought down with full force again and again across Jesus' shoulders, back, and legs. At first the thongs cut through the skin only.
Then, as the blows continue, they cut deeper into the subcutaneous tissues, producing first an oozing of blood from the capillaries and veins of the skin, and finally spurting arterial bleeding from vessels in the underlying muscles.

The small balls of lead first produce large, deep bruises which are broken open by subsequent blows. Finally the skin of the back is hanging in long ribbons and the entire area is an unrecognizable mass of torn, bleeding tissue. When it is determined by the centurion in charge that the prisoner is near death, the beating is finally stopped.

The succeeding blows, however, "cut deeper into the subcutaneous tissues producing first an oozing of blood from the capillaries and veins of the skin and finally, spurting arterial bleeding from vessels in the underlying muscles."
The whip tears into the deep skeletal muscles to produce ribbons of bleeding flesh.

They make fun of Jesus.

The half-fainting Jesus is then untied and allowed to slump to the stone pavement, wet with His own blood. The Roman soldiers see a great joke in this provincial Jew claiming to be king. They throw a robe across His shoulders and place a stick in His hand for a scepter. They still need a crown to make their travesty complete. Flexible branches covered with long thorns (commonly used in bundles for firewood) are plaited into the shape of a crown and this is pressed into His scalp.

Let us keep in mind that:

This crown of thorns was driven into his scalp, causing more bleeding, the scalp being among the most veined parts of the human body.
Again there is copious bleeding, the scalp being one of the most vascular areas of the body.
They returned his robe, only to tear it off again, again opening the wounds whose dried blood has adhered to the cloth.

Bearing the Weight.

Finally, the journey to the Calvary begins.
The heavy the crossbar weighing 34 to 57 kg weight is put across his nape and shoulders. Today, men can swing sacks of rice weighing 50 kilos on their backs. But remember that Jesus was already very weak, had lost a great amount of blood, was in excruciating pain, and was under emotional strain.

In deference to Jewish custom, the Romans return His garments. The heavy patibulum of the cross is tied across His shoulders, and the procession of the condemned Christ, two thieves, and the execution detail of Roman soldiers headed by a centurion begins its slow journey along the Via Dolorosa.
In spite of His efforts to walk erect, the weight of the heavy wooden beam, together with the shock produced by copious blood loss, is too much.

He stumbles and falls repeatedly that Simon of Cyrene was ordered to carry the cross part of the way.
The rough wood of the beam gouges into the lacerated skin and muscles of the shoulders. He tries to rise, but human muscles have been pushed beyond their endurance.

The centurion, anxious to get on with the crucifixion, selects a stalwart, Simon of Cyrene, to carry the cross. Jesus follows, still bleeding and sweating the cold, clammy sweat of shock, until the 650 yard journey from the fortress Antonia to Golgotha is finally completed.

The Crucifixion.

More pain is coming. In preparation for his nailing to the cross, Jesus is violently thrown backward, grinding his continuously bleeding wounds onto the wood and possibly allowing dirt to enter them.

Iron spikes measuring 25 to 35 cm are driven through Jesus' hands (some accounts say the wrists would be more accurate location.
Medically speaking, the wrists are part of the hands). Because the hand is full of sensory nerves, any stimulation would cause agonizing shots of pain in both arms, and maybe throughout the body.

The feet are nailed next, and Jesus is now crucified. The nailed hands carry the weight of Jesus's whole body and tear at the wounds. Meanwhile, the stimulation of the nerves in feet is also causing Jesus much pain.
Jesus is offered wine mixed with myrrh, a mild analgesic mixture. He refuses to drink. Simon is ordered to place the patibulum on the ground and Jesus quickly thrown backward with His shoulders against the wood.

The legionnaire feels for the depression at the front of the wrist. He drives a heavy, square, wrought-iron nail through the wrist and deep into the wood.
Quickly, he moves to the other side and repeats the action being careful not to pull the arms to tightly, but to allow some flexion and movement. The patibulum is then lifted in place at the top of the stipes and the titulus reading "Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews" is nailed in place.

Dr. Davis writes very impressed: "As He slowly sags down with more weight on the nails in the wrists, excruciating, fiery pain shoots along the fingers and up the arms - the nails in the wrists are putting pressure on the median nerves.
As He pushes Himself upward to avoid this stretching torment, He places His full weight on the nail through His feet. Again, there is the searing agony of the nail tearing through the nerves between the metatarsal bones of the feet."

In another study of the medical aspects of the crucifixion, it is said that the procedure is relatively bloodless because no major arteries are hit. However, the pain, coupled with the incessant bleeding of the back wounds, lead to the deterioration of Jesus's condition.

Excruciating Pain.

Excluding the pain, the major effect of crucifixion is the hindrance to normal breathing because the body pulls down on the outstretched arms and shoulders. After being in this position for quite a while, exhalation becomes shallow and labored.
The upper body starts to cramp, making it even more difficult to breath.

Jesus tries to breathe more freely and ease the cramping on his upper body by pushing himself up by the feet. But that offers little comfort due to the piercing pain in the feet.

At this point, as the arms fatigue, great waves of cramps sweep over the muscles, knotting them in deep, relentless, throbbing pain. With these cramps comes the inability to push Himself upward. Hanging by his arms, the pectoral muscles are paralyzed and the intercostal muscles are unable to act. Air can be drawn into the lungs, but cannot be exhaled. Jesus fights to raise Himself in order to get even one short breath. Finally, carbon dioxide builds up in the lungs and in the blood stream and the cramps partially subside. Spasmodically, he is able to push Himself upward to exhale and bring in the life-giving oxygen.

The mere act of breathing has never been so agonizing for a single human being.
After "three hours of crucifixion, and more four hours corporal pain, cycles of twisting, joint-rendering cramps," Jesus slips into unconsciousness due to asphyxia, a lack of oxygen in the body usually caused by interruption of breathing.
It was undoubtedly during these periods that He uttered the seven short sentences recorded:

The first word: looking down at the Roman soldiers throwing dice for His seamless garment, "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do."

The second word: to the penitent thief, "Today thou shalt be with me in Paradise."

The third word: looking down at the terrified, grief-stricken adolescent John -- the beloved Apostle -- he said, "Behold your mother." Then, looking to His mother Mary, "Woman behold your son."

The fourth word: cry is from the beginning of the 22nd Psalm, "My God, my God, why has thou forsaken me?"

The fith word: "I thirst"

The sixth word: When Jesus had received the wine, he said, "It is finished"; and he bowed his head and handed over the spirit.

The seventh word: Jesus cried out in a loud voice,
"Father, into your hands I commend my spirit":

At 3:00 p.m. of Good Friday, Our Lord JesusChrist dies.

According to studies, the exact cause of Jesus's death, only six hours after he was nailed, was hastened by a combination of loss of strength, loss of blood and loss of oxygen. Between the scientific deductions, many would suspect that he died because thus was written and had to die thus.
The piercing of the spear on his side, which likely ruptured his lungs and heart, was done to ensure death...

The 34th verse of the 19th chapter of the Gospel according to St. John reports:
"And immediately there came out blood and water." That is, there was an escape of water fluid from the sac surrounding the heart, giving postmortem evidence that Our Lord died not the usual crucifixion death by suffocation, but of heart failure (a broken heart) due to shock and constriction of the heart by fluid in the pericardium.

Thus we have had the glimpse, including the medical evidence, of that epitome of evil which man has exhibited toward Man and toward God. It has been a terrible sight, and more than enough to leave us despondent and depressed.
How grateful we can be that we have the great sequel in the infinite mercy of God toward man, at once the miracle of the atonement (at one ment) and the expectation of the triumphant Easter morning.

Suffering Can Be Endured

Jesus’ physical pain is well documented… But this suffering is amplified by an infinite degree when we take into account the emotional trauma of facing His father’s wrath, a prospect that Jesus said troubled and alarmed Him (Mark 14:34; Luke 22:44).

Yet, Jesus endured. His cry, “It is finished” (John 19:30), was the cry of a victorious athlete crossing the finish line after a grueling contest. Jesus completed His course of atonement. I would never intend to minimize the pain that any of us may experience, but at the same time we can acknowledge that Jesus suffered much more deeply than we ever will, and He endured. So can we. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you may not grow weary and lose heart (Hebrews 12:3).

Suffering Makes Us Better.

The writer of Hebrews twice makes the point that Jesus’ sufferings contributed to His completeness (2:10 and 5:8-9). This does not mean that Jesus lacked something morally, but that these sufferings completed His qualifications to be our sympathetic high priest.

Suffering can also strengthen our faith and equip us to be servants. The Bible uses three images to describe the suffering of God’s people: a father disciplining his son (Hebrews 12:5-11); a refiner purifying precious metal (1 Peter 1:1-6); and a vinedresser pruning his vine (John 15:2). In each case “pain” is absolutely essential to progress. And in neither case is this pain the result of hatefulness. So when we experience suffering, we should not feel as if God has abandoned us. Rather, we must rejoice that He is going to use these experiences to make us stronger (James 1:2-4).

Suffering Will Not Last Forever.

As deep as Jesus’ anguish was on the cross, it eventually ended. And all along Jesus knew that this temporal suffering would lead to glory (see Luke 24:26; 1 Peter 1:10-11). If the “joy” of Hebrews 12:2 is His glorification with the Father, then the reason Jesus triumphantly endured His suffering was because He knew it would end and lead to glory.

Paul makes this promise to us: And if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him in order that we may also be glorified with Him (Romans 8:17). If we cultivate a heaven-centered, rather than earth-centered perspective of suffering, we can remind ourselves that eternal glory will last forever.

Jesus Christ suffered terribly by us and by only one soul would able to suffer again, if it were necessary. Thanks God it is not necessary, with merits that Jesus won is enough to save thousand of worlds.

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