Disclaimer: I copied and pasted many lines straight from Lee Strobel’s book, The Case For Christ. I didn’t want to take away from the story and distract the reader with multiple citations and references. Therefore, I simply put the page number in parentheses right after each sentence, quote, or phrase that I took from his book. Please read the preface in the full PDF version.
Wonder if the roman soldier let him out?
“Man, how does your mind even think like that?”
“Well, you said he appeared to his disciples after he died. Maybe he didn’t die. Maybe the tomb guards just let him out?”
“Ok that’s it.” I sat up tall on top of his bed. I turned his night light back on. “You really want to go there don’t you? You promise you won’t get nightmares? I’m about to tell you some grim details.”
“Dad, you know that stuff doesn’t bother me.”
Ok, there’s two things you have to remember here. Number one, there’s no way Jesus physically survived the crucifixion itself. The roman soldiers were responsible for ensuring that their prisoners were dead. Their jobs and lives depended on it. The responsible soldier would be put to death themselves, so they had a huge incentive to make absolutely sure that each and every victim was dead when he was removed from the cross. (201)
They were cruel, heartless, worst of the worst individuals. They whipped Jesus and tortured him in the most inhumane way. Brace yourself, this is going to be hard to hear.
Jesus was in critical condition before he even got to the cross. The soldiers flogged him for hours. Roman floggings were extremely brutal. They used whips with metal balls woven into them. These balls ripped apart the flesh, exposing muscles and bones. A third-century historian by the name of Eusebius described flogging by saying, ‘The sufferer’s veins were laid bare, and the very muscles, sinews, and bowels of the victim were open to exposure.” (195)
He then had to carry the cross through all of this pain. This kind of beating would kill most people. The tremendous pain caused hypovolemic shock, meaning the person is suffering the effects of losing a large amount of blood. (196)
Jesus was in hypovolemic shock as he staggered up the road to the execution site at Calvary, carrying the horizontal beam of the cross. Finally Jesus collapsed and the Roman soldiers ordered Simon to carry the cross for him. (196)
The roman soldiers then used spikes that were 5-7 inches long and drove them into Jesus’ wrists. And it’s important to understand that the nail would go through the place where the median nerve runs. This is the largest nerve going out to the hand, and it would be crushed by the nail that was pounded into it. (197)
Did you ever get hit in the elbow on your funny bone? That’s actually another nerve called the ulna nerve. It’s so painful that some people pass out after having something called a vasovagal response.
Well, picture someone taking a pair of pliers and squeezing and crushing that nerve. That effect would be similar to what Jesus experienced. (197)
The pain was unbearable. They actually had to come up with another word to describe it. Did you know excruciating means, “out of the cross?” (198)
Nails were then driven into Jesus’ feet, through nerves that would again cause similar nerve pain.
His arms were outstretched so much that both his shoulders would have been dislocated.
But then, here’s what I really want you to remember, the cause of death.
Once a person is hanging in the vertical position, crucifixion is essentially an agonizingly slow death by asphyxiation. (198)
A person hanging on the cross would fight to get out of a slouched position, which basically puts the chest into an inhaled position. In order to exhale, Jesus would have to stand up to relax his muscles and breathe in. This would cause a lot of pain and tearing in his feet, and more ripping and tearing as his back rubs against the wooden cross. Eventually, exhaustion took over and Jesus wasn’t able to push up anymore to breathe. (198)
Eventually his breathing slowed down and he went into an irregular heartbeat. When his heart was beating erratically, Jesus would have known that he was at the moment of death, which is when he said, “Lord into your hands I commit my spirit.” (Luke 23:46) He then died of cardiac arrest. (199)
So you see, there’s no way Jesus made it off that cross alive. Let’s say somehow he did. Well, there was no way Jesus was getting out of that tomb in the condition that he was in, let alone running away from anybody.
Second, like I said before, the roman solider guarding that tomb would have never let him escape. So let’s say everyone agrees Jesus died but now his friends came to remove his body in an attempt to make it look like he was missing. Again, it’s not going to happen. The tomb guard’s life depended on it.
But wonder if they did get his body out?
Ha. Ok fine. Even if they did get Jesus’ body out, do you think an army of soldiers weren’t going to chase them down on horses and catch them, who were running on foot or donkeys? They knew what was at stake. If Jesus ends up missing, Christianity not only lives, it thrives. They would never let it happen under their watch.
But actually it did. And no one could explain how.
“So the tomb was really empty?”
“Yes. Everyone acknowledged it too. Nobody, not even the Roman authorities or Jewish leaders ever claimed that the tomb still contained Jesus’ body. They only came up with absurd stories to try to explain what happened.”
“Who found the tomb empty?”
“Mary and her friends.”
“Maybe Mary and her lady friends made up the story about Jesus being missing?”
Well, here’s a really important point you have to remember. At the time of Jesus, women were looked down upon. They were not privy to many things, especially religion. Jewish leaders didn’t even want them hearing the words they preached. The fact that the gospels report that women discovered the empty tomb bolsters the story’s authenticity. (Page 263)
Women’s testimony was regarded as so worthless that they weren’t even allowed to serve as legal witnesses in a Jewish court of law. The fact that women are the first witness to an empty tomb is most plausibly explained by the reality that, like it or not, they were the discoverers of the empty tomb. This shows that the gospel writers faithfully recorded what happened, even if it was embarrassing. (218)
“How come all the Jewish people didn’t immediately convert?”
“How did you even think of asking me a question like that?”
“Well dad, Jesus was Jewish and a lot of the people he talked to and lived among were Jewish. If they all saw and heard about this happening, why do we still have Jewish people today?”
Well, a lot of Jewish people did convert. In fact, over ten thousand of them. Right, not all of them. But the social structures that gave Jews their national identity were extremely important to them. It would be hard to break from that culture. (250) Your family would disown you. Your life would be lost and perhaps threatened. Think about how hard it is for people to change. We see it all the time at the gym. People know exactly what they’re supposed to eat to be healthy. They know they need to workout to lose weight and be strong. How many actually do it? Change is hard.
So for ten thousand to convert just five weeks after Jesus is crucified, that’s HUGE. Think about if that happened today. That’s a powerful human being to convert that many people, that fast.
It’s not possible. Unless you’re the living God.