The Crucifixion and Resurrection of Jesus

The crucifixion and Resurrection of Jesus Christ is well understood when studied in a chronological manner. These events occurred in the first century A.D when Pontius Pilate sentenced Jesus to be scourged in public and finally undergo execution that was done in the cross in the most embarrassing manner. The redemptive suffering that Jesus persevered in the cross is highly regarded as a major landmark forming a critical aspect that signifies salvation dogma for Christians documented in Christian theology. Jesus’ death is considered as an aspect that represents Christian’s forgiveness of sins therefore regarding Jesus as the Messiah. This doctrine upheld of Jesus by Christians is regarded and widely referred as atonement.  Crucifixion of Jesus formed a historical occurrence and is well documented in the Gospels of the bible (David 35).    

During the Jesus’ crucifixion week, there were two Sabbaths that were separated with a day. Therefore, the rationale why the Gospels are all in place to this extraordinary event regardless of different philosophical inclinations of writers is well explained by this act. The journey started with Jesus and his disciples leaving from Bethany to Jerusalem to partake the Passover in the city. As Mark 14: 12 – 16 indicates, John and Peter were sent by Jesus before hand to locate and identify the place where Jesus and his disciples could stay during the Passover feast. During the first day at Jerusalem, Jesus partook the Passover earlier than usual together with his disciples and left towards Mount Olives. It is while at Mount Olives that Jesus met his betrayal from Judas. These events happened at olive grove in the land of Gethsemane located at the base of Mount Olives. It is at Gethsemane that apprehend of Jesus was done after the last supper while he was with his Apostles during prayer time. After his capture, he underwent trials before several kings from Sanhedrin to Pontius Pilate and then to Herod Antipas (Eric 84).

His crucifixion process was the worst and humiliating ever to be experienced with any other person. Jesus was mocked not only by the crowd but also the soldiers who regarded him as the ‘king of the Jews’ besides clothing him with purple robes and crowd of thorns according to John 19: 1-3. As if this inhumane treatment was not enough for this innocent man, the soldiers spat on his face and gave him thoroughly beating.  When Judas betrayed Jesus, He was arrested and brought for charges before the high priest - Caiaphas. During this week, there was two Sabbaths; the weekly and annual Sabbaths. Preparations therefore for the annual Sabbath were on high momentum the next morning when Jesus was again brought back for trials. This time He was not taken to Caiaphas but was presented before the Governor – the Pilate. The charges resulted to Jesus’ crucifixion that was done around the ninth hour just before the sun set and his body was placed inside the tomb at twilight. This happened at the eve of beginning of the annual Sabbath that only happens once in a year (Robert 56).

When Pilate gave the Jews their king for crucifixion after finding no fault with him, they went out shouting – crucify him. The crowd preferred a robber Barnabas instead of Jesus and Pilate had to respect their wish since it was custom for him to release one prisoner of their choice during the Passover feast.  Jesus was led out towards a place called skull commonly known as Golgotha in Hebrew bearing his cross for crucifixion. In the ninth hour, Jesus was crucified amidst two thieves on either side to suffer a punishment that was so severe considered fit for the worst criminals. Jesus was further humiliated when a big title was placed on top of his cross bearing the words indicating that he was the Jesus of Nazareth and also the King of the Jews. After his crucifixion, the soldiers cast lot for his cloth that was without a hem. The culmination of his crucifixion came when he said he was thirst. Instead of water, the soldiers gave him vinegar which he spat out, bowed his head, gave his spirit and died (The Holy Bible).

Jesus’ resurrection

After Jesus was crucified and died at Golgotha, Joseph of Arimathaea secretly sought permission to burry Jesus’ body from Pilate which he got. Joseph in his attempts to burry Jesus’ body was assisted by Nicodemus who came to Jesus at night during Jesus’ ministry. Joseph buried Jesus in a garden called sepulcher. It was at the first day of the week when Mary Magdalene went early in the tomb where Jesus was buried with myrrh and aloes to spray the body of Jesus. Unfortunately, the stone that covered the entrance of the tomb was not there so do the body of Jesus. She ran to Simon Peter’s house and to other disciples to inform them about the occurrences. She informed them that Jesus was removed from the tomb where he was placed. After Mary conveyed the message to his disciples, they went to the tomb to see for themselves and be witnesses. Upon they reached the tomb, Jesus’ body was not there and the napkins that had tied Jesus’ head were lying on the ground separately from the linen clothes which was folded and placed at one of the corners (The Holy Bible).

After disciples witnessed that Jesus was no longer in the tomb they went home but Mary stayed at the sepulcher. While crying at this place, Jesus appeared to her but she never noticed him, Jesus told her to go and inform his disciples that he has resurrected and will ascend to his Father. In the same first day of the week when the disciples were locked up in a room for fear of Jews, Jesus appeared to them in the evening. Thomas one of Jesus disciples did not believe that Jesus had resurrected and he sought to touch Jesus’ scars on the hand to believe. Jesus afterwards went away and left the disciples after encouraging them the first time since his resurrection. The other time Jesus showed himself to his disciples was when they were at the sea of Tiberias (The Holy Bible).

History of Roman practice of Crucifixion

Crucifixion dates back in the 7th century BC when the Ancient Persians used to crucify the captured pirates in port Athens. The first person to be crucified was a general in Alexander’s the Great regime who disagreed with his campaign plans. This practice spread quickly in the entire kingdom advanced by Alexander the Great. In Rome, the practice was borrowed and adopted from Carthage and used to execute criminals, rebels, enemies and slaves. This practice was considered as the most humiliating and embarrassing way to execute someone leading to death.  Crucifixion happened on a cross with the victim crucified stripped naked and 13 to 18 centimeters nails pierced in both the legs and the hands. To enhance death of the victim, his legs were broken immediately after crucifixion and burial was usually not permitted after his death. However, this practice was abolished during the reign of Emperor Constantine when Roman Empire assumed State religion of Christianity (Paul 211).

In modern times, the practice of crucifixion was practiced during Sino-Japanese war where Japanese soldiers used crucifixion against Chinese civilians; it was also done during Cambodia war under Khmer Rouge. The practice of crucifixion has been used by devoted catholic faithful in recent times who voluntarily undergoes non – lethally crucifixion during Good Friday celebrations for some hours to emulate and imitate the suffering and pain that Christ went through. Philippines are the most notable to emulate and imitate this practice and is very common during good Friday (Robert 56).  

However, it is important to note that crucifixion as a practice was not done and carried out with a symbolic or ritualistic attachment whatsoever. Its initial purpose and intention was to achieve a particular objective aimed to inflict pain to the victim with an intention to cause death for certain reasons. Every mean could have been employed by the executors to achieve the desired goal for crucifixion. In a more detailed manner, this practice was regarded as the most painful, embarrassing and humiliating method of execution that was used on criminals and other serious misconducts in a society especially in Rome before the Christianity regime took over and declared Rome a religious state. In earlier times, crucifixion was done using all available means considered to inflict pain to the victim and achieve a certain objective. Methods that were used included use of hooks to hang victims use of fire to burn victims at the stake, exposure to a fierce wild beast and other impalement forms of execution. Therefore, it is worth noting that, the practice of crucifixion varied with the magnitude of offense and the case besides consideration of the location (David 92).

With time crucifixion was executed by use of a cross inform of a T shape with a horizontal beam fixed at the very top most part of the vertical beam touching the ground. There were different forms of crosses used; when the horizontal beam was placed at the top most part of the vertical beam, the cross was referred as Saint Anthony’ cross or tau cross. Alternatively, the horizontal beam could have been placed slightly lower from the top in the vertical beam to form a Latin t-Shape cross. Finally, it could have been made in a diagonal structure like an X to form Saint Andrew’s cross. However, different religion describes differently the shape and meaning of where and how Jesus was crucified according to their doctrines. For instance, Jehovah Witness faithful believe that Jesus was crucified in a vertical wooden beam in absence of any transom (Paul 73).

To affix the victim on the cross, either nails, ropes or even a combination of both was widely used according to location and the magnitude of the offense. The picture depicted in the Gospels especially documented by John demonstrates that nails were used to affix Jesus both in the palm hands and the feet. Since the nails fixed at the palms of the hand cannot support the whole body weight, other methods were employed to support the nails; such other methods included tying the victim close to the beam with a rope especially at the waist. If this method of fixing nails at the palm of the hand and tying the victim is not used, nails could be inserted at the wrist of the victim especially in between the bones which never required the support of tying the victim with a rope since the nails in the wrist were enough. Roman are the known group of people who exercised crucifixion to their victims, the main cause of death from this method is due to asphyxiation from inability of oxygen to exchange with carbon dioxide as a result of respiratory disturbance or failure or even breathing difficulties. These disturbances caused insufficient oxygen in the brain which causes unconsciousness of the victim leading to death (Robert 84).       

Timeline of Jesus 24 hours before his death

The last day of Jesus’ life was characterized by many and numerous happenings. It is during this time that one of his disciples (Judas) agreed with the religious leaders in the Jewish authorities to betray Jesus. Since the Passover was near, the disciples and Jesus were preparing in the upper room when Jesus demonstrated a personal illustration of humility by washing his disciple’s feet. It is during this time when Jesus identified Judas as his betrayer. After the meal, Jesus went with his disciples to pray at the garden of Gethsemane. While praying Judas arrived with Jewish soldiers and betrayed Jesus with a kiss and Jesus was arrested. This action provoked Peter to draw his sword and chopped an ear of the Masters’ servant. However, Jesus healed the servant’s ear and rebuked Peter for the action. Jesus was taken for trial from Sanhedrin Council to Herod and then to Pilate who crucified him on the cross in exchange of a criminal named Barnabas. When Jesus was crucified on the ninth hour and all the prophesies came to be, he said he was thirsty and the soldiers gave him vinegar which Jesus spat out and he willingly gave out his spirit and died when he said; ‘It is finished’ according to John 19: 30 (The Holy Bible).

Medical explanation of the cause of death

The cause of death can be explained differently by different medical practitioners in accordance to their line of specialization and medical observation’s point of view. A pathologist who deals with autopsy might attribute death with blunt force occurring in the trauma. Trauma surgeon on the other hand may attribute death with hemorrhage from excessive bleeding. Lastly a pathologist who deals with automobile accidents and mortality patterns may explain death as a result of inadequacy of body essentials and excess internal bleeding (BMJ 30).

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