A Study of The Physical Death of Christ on the Cross
by Raymond Clements
The resurrection of Jesus Christ is found at the climax of each of the gospel narratives. This lone event in the life of Christ defines all Christianity, and serves as the basis of all that it represents.[i] The resurrection is so important to the Christian faith that according to the apostle Paul, “… if Christ has not been raised, your faith (In Him) is worthless…” (1 Corinthians 15:16-17). However, in order for one to be raised from the dead and resurrected into a new life, one must first have died. The death that Jesus faces in the gospel narratives is a gruesome one. According to the New Testament, Jesus was beaten and whipped, and then crucified in front of his followers and enemies. As we will later discover, his death was bloody, painful, and humiliating. After mere hours on the cross, Christ died; he was removed from the cross and placed in a new tomb by Joseph of Arimathea. Then he was miraculously raised from the dead on the third day.
Many scholars have debated the death of Christ on the cross and his subsequent resurrection, creating theories in their attempt to shed light on the issues and questions that surround it. One such theory that has come to our attention is that Jesus did not fully die on the cross, and that he merely “recuperated” while in the grave.[ii] If, according to this theory, Christ never died, then the resurrection never happened and our faith, according to Paul, is found meaningless. Since this theory of his actual death holds the very foundation of our faith as Christians in the balance, it will be of great importance to look into the actual death of Christ, by examining crucifixion as a practice, the physicality of his death based on the narratives found in the four gospels, and then investigating several theories concerning his death…