Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Part I: The Torture Before the Cross

Over the next three posts I would like to share with you from one of the most intriguing books that I have ever read. Entitled The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel, it is an excellent read and full of material to equip one to contend for the faith. In the book, Strobel lays out an airtight case that Christ existed, that he was the Son of God, that He died, and that He did indeed rise again from the dead. One of the numerous interviews that he conducted with today's leading theologians and experts was with Alexander Metherell, M.D., PH.D., who is a foremost expert on the Crucifixion and the physical agony that was endured there by Christ on our behalf. Just to warn you, if you are a bit uneasy toward violence and gore then you might not want to read the following excerpt. However, I think that it is highly important that we understand the rigors that Christ bore in our place and the pain that was placed upon His body that we fully deserved.

"Could you paint a picture of what happened to Jesus?" I asked.
He cleared his throat. "It began after the Last Supper," he said. "Jesus went with his disciples tot he Mount of Olives - specifically, to the Garden of Gethsemane. And there, if you remember, he prayed all night. Now, during that process he was anticipating the coming events of the next day. Since he knew the amount of suffering he was going to have to endure, he was quite naturally experiencing a great deal of psychological stress."
I raised my hand to stop him. "Whoa - here's where skeptics have a field day," I told him. "The gospels tell us he began to sweat blood at this point. Now, c'mon, isn't that just a product of some overactive imaginations? Doesn't that call into question the accuracy of the gospel writers?"
Unfazed, Metherell shook his head. "Not at all," he replied. "This is a known medical condition called hematidrosis. It's not very common, but it is associated with a high degree of psychological stress.
"What happens is that severe anxiety causes the release of chemicals that break down the capillaries in the sweat glands. As a result, there's a small amount of bleeding into these glands, and the sweat comes out tinged with blood. We're not talking about a lot of blood; it's just a very, very small amount."
Though a bit chastened, I pressed on. "Did this have any other effect on the body?"
"What this did was set up the skin to be extremely fragile so that when Jesus was flogged by the Roman soldier the next day, his skin would be very, very sensitive."
Well, I thought, here we go. I braced myself for the grim images I knew were about to flood my mind... "Tell me," I said, "What was the flogging like?"
Metherell's eyes never left me. "Roman floggings were known to be terribly brutal. they usually consisted of thirty-nine lashes but frequently were a lot more than that, depending on the mood of the soldier applying the blows.
"The soldier would use a whip of braided leather thongs with metal balls woven into them, when the whip would strike flesh, these balls would cause deep bruises or contusions, which would probably break open with farther blows. And the whip had pieces of sharp bone as well, which would cut the flesh severely.
"The back would be so shredded that part of the spine was sometimes exposed by the deep, deep cuts. The whipping would have gone all the way from the shoulders down to the back, the buttocks, and the back of the legs. It was just terrible."
"One physician who has studied Roman beatings said, 'As the flogging continued, the lacerations would tear into the underlying skeletal muscles and produce quivering ribbons of bleeding flesh.' A third century historian by the name of Eusebius described a flogging by saying, 'the sufferer's veins were laid bare, and the very muscles, sinews, and bowels of the victim were open to exposure.'
"We know that many people would die from this kind of beating even before they could be crucified. At the least, the victim would experience tremendous pain and go into hypovolemic shock. Hypo means 'low,' vol refers to volume, and emic means 'blood,' so hypovolemic shock means that the person is suffering from the effects of losing a large amount of blood," the Doctor explained. "This does four things. First, the heart races to try and pump blood that isn't there; second, the blood pressure drops, causing fainting or collapse; third, the kidneys stop producing urine to maintain what volume is left; and fourth, the person becomes very thirsty as the body craves fluids to replace the lost blood volume.
"Because of the terrible effects of this beating, there's no question that Jesus was already in serious to critical condition even before the nails were driven through his hands and feet."

-Kyle Glick-


Nathan Edwards said...

Wow, this conversation is very humbling, to think that all this suffering was for us, that we might know God and live eternally glorifying his name.

amber said...

This is another book on my list of about 30 NEED-to-read books! Reading more is what I look forward to about summer and graduation...

kyle said...

just rub it in why don't you Amber. while you partying it up when you graduate next week the rest of us losers will still be slaving it away on campus. oh well... the price one pays for slacking.

Jenn Romanski said...

hmm...I was going to make a comment about the actual post, but now I'm making a comment about what Kyle said.

Amber doesn't graduate till December, right??

amber said...

lord willin', december it is

the summer? i only wish i were that good.

kyle said...

I was making a joke but apparently I missed the mark

Ryan said...

I recently heard C.J. talk about in a message about the wounds of Christ. He shared that in Heaven Christ’s wounds will be the only wounds that will remain. They will be on full display as He sits on his throne and as we gaze into then for all eternity they will continue to affect our hearts as we worship forever and ever. I had never thought about this before but I think this could apply today as we hear such great teaching about how Christ suffered for us, that can and should affect our worship of God today.