The Road Less Travelled

posted in: Features

For the longest time, I still wonder today what could have caused Jesus death. Of course, if His corpse were to be exhumed for autopsy to determine a conclusive forensic explanation of his death, that either would not be possible because there was no body to be found in the first place. Remember, what remained in the tomb was that piece of linen wrapped around his cadaver and the evidence of stone rolled away right after he resurrected. This left me with no option but to employ an imaginative examination of the circumstantial evidences surrounding Jesus death hoping this puts an end to my ever wondering mind.

During my nursing years and the routine hospital assignment I had, I happened to work in Ospital ng Manila for my ER, OR and ICU exposures and common scenarios I see every day include unexpected CPR procedures. Not a day went by without this procedure undertaken. Lucky enough, when the tides are to my favor, we surpass the CPR successfully, meaning the patient is back in normal shape, otherwise, post-mortem procedure is the end part of a nursing care for that particular patient. That becomes the usual daily routine.

Then here comes the picture of JESUS in my mind; the body pain, the crown of thorns he wore, the bruises all around his body, the thirst, fatigue, the major wounds he incurred, the weight of that pieces of wood upon his shoulder, the nail-pierced hands and feet, the sweat, the legal battle, the whipping, the emotional trauma, embarrassment and finally, the BLOOD LOSS.

Allow me to discuss some of the contributing factors that led to Jesus death. But before I do that, let me refresh your memories on what transpired prior the actual crucifixion of Jesus by indicating different research studies and investigations that would point out to the probable DISTANCE, TIME and PAIN Jesus incurred that led to His death. We need to establish these probabilities as they contributed to the physical death of Jesus.

In a series of investigative research as to the time and distance Jesus walked, Dean Dowling in his article “Time and Distance Trouble, Investigator 117” in 2007 of November, enumerated the supposed sequence of events that led to Jesus crucifixion and the way I understood his argument is this.

After the last supper the night before, Jesus was accompanied by some of His disciples to go to Gethsemane to pray where He was arrested. He then marched to the house of the former high priest, Annas, then taken to high priest Caiaphas and the Sanhedrin. He marched to Pontius Pilate and later interviewed by Herod Antipas, then returned to Pilate, mistreated by the Roman soldiers, then finally crucified in Golgotha. These stops clearly established the fact that Jesus, right after He was captured, went to and fro, for a series of investigation and since the Jews were under Roman Empire at that time, the authority to try and sentence a convict belong only to the Romans, hence, Pontius Pilate, pressured by the crowd, gave in and had Jesus taken the ordeal in the hands of the mob and Roman soldiers.

According to the same exchange of researches, arguing parties pointed out that “Jesus was arrested in the Gethsemane garden about 3AM (Mark 14:37, 14:41) and put on the cross at 9AM (Mark 16:25) which was about 6 hours”. Another 6 hours agony was from 9AM crucifixion time until He died at 3PM. Therefore, the total number of agonizing hours ran through 12 hours while the distance Jesus walked was approximately around 2.5 kilometers according to the same exchange of probabilities. The crossbeams weighed around 30 to 40kg so the research said. That was enough weight to sustain an approximately 1.0KM distance walk right after Jesus was handed by Pontius Pilate to the mob and Roman soldiers.

What about the physical inflictions He has incurred?

If my memory serves me right, JESUS clearly suffered the following medical conditions prior his death:

Dehydration – this is due to the amount of body fluids he lost during the whole ordeal. Remember he cried out “I thirst”. Did someone offer HIM drinking water? Look what John 19-29 said. “A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus' lips." Obviously, it did not even reach to Christ esophagus.

A medically proven fact is that when someone loses 5 to 8 percent of body water, this can already cause fatigue and dizziness, whereas a loss of more than 10 percent can already make a person physically and mentally deteriorated. Worst is when the loss reaches between 15 to 25 percent, this causes death. This was fatal for Jesus.

Body Malaise – this is due to the prolong body fatigue, extensive exposure to physical trauma and injury. If one anonymous research were true to assume that the probable distance Jesus walked to and from was approximately about 2.5KM. In another research, the total hours Jesus walked from his capture, going back and forth for investigation of His case was estimated to be 6 hours, from 3AM capture time till 9AM when He was nailed to the cross. Assuming the 6 hours could fit the many events he attended to during His trial was correct, that was enough time to ever experience body malaise resulting from extensive physical trauma He incurred. Take note that the crossbeams He carried upon His shoulders was approximately 30-40 kg.

Hypoglycemia – the probability of Jesus suffering from hypoglycemia is high. This is a condition of decreased blood glucose, which when broken down into simpler elements, eventually become ATP (Adenosine Triphosphate) the simplest form of body energy source. I personally did not read Biblical references at any point in crucifixion where Jesus took momentary snacks all along. Presumably, Jesus last food intake was the night before His capture if indeed He partook full meal during the last supper after which He invited his disciples to Gethsemane. In an exhaustive agony to the cross without food intake, Jesus was likely to suffer this condition, symptoms of which include trembling of the hands, blurring of vision, shakiness, dizziness, sweating, hunger, irritability or moodiness, anxiety or nervousness and headache.

There were many medical theories that point out to massive Myocardial Infarction as also the cause of Jesus death. Dr. David Terasaka, M.D. in his article published in blueletterbible.org pointed out that the fatal cardiac arrhythmia may have been triggered by physical stresses related to the ordeal of crucifixion. He said the actual cause of death of Jesus “may have been multifactorial, related primarily to Hypovolemic Shock, exhaustion asphyxia and perhaps acute heart failure”.

But what is Hypovolemic Shock? Healthline.com explain the condition as follows.

Hypovolemic shock is a life-threatening condition that results when you lose more than 20 percent (one-fifth) of your body's blood or fluid supply. This severe fluid loss makes it impossible for the heart to pump a sufficient amount of blood to your body. Hypovolemic shock can lead to organ failure.

When we relate hypovolemia with Hebrews 9:22, and I quote “In fact the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood, there is no remission of sin”, it is clear that this Biblical requirement of shedding was fulfilled by Jesus via the process called hypovolemia. However, based on my personal appreciation of all possible evidences and medical research I have read through, I am convinced that Jesus death was due to acute heart failure secondary to hypovolemic shock.

Again, Hebrews 9:22 seem to be connecting all the medical theories to suggest that Jesus’ acute heart failure secondary to hypovolemic shock, secondary to multiple pierced wounds was the actual cause of His death. The 5 major wounds Jesus incurred were enough stub outs where blood could rapidly drain and since there was no blood infusion available, the amount of blood/body water loss could possibly have gone more than 25% given He was nailed at 9AM and died at 3PM, a six hour agonizing ordeal. This scenario did not include the bruises and other open wounds from the head all throughout the body which could also be an outlet for blood loss. Of course none could attest to the actual number of His bruises, however the fact remains that Hebrew 9:22 is clear when it said if there was no bleeding, there was no remission of sin.

More than the blood He lost is the significant implication of Jesus death. For one, Jesus Christ being God could have opted to employ shortcuts in His ordeal bypassing the pains in full activation of His divine powers. Surely, the flesh resisted the anticipated amount of agony He has to incur but the submission to the will of God prevailed.

Had He not been submissive even to the cross of calvary, we remained under the bondage of sin today, controlled by the power of Satan. Had He not risen up each time He fell on the ground with the 40kg of crossbeams on His shoulders, we never have experienced today to be free from sin. Jesus had all the options to discontinue His walk to the road less travelled, but what was certain in His mind was that the body malaise, the dehydration, the hypoglycemia, hypovolemic shock and acute heart failure would mean spiritual freedom, a life in spiritual abundance and above all our victory over death.

Truly His blood ransomed humanity from its wickedness. His bruises healed our inequity, the excruciating ordeal He has gone through broke every chain so that in His brokenness we were made whole, in His death, we live.

The road may be less travelled but the lonely walk Jesus did all the way to Calvary was worth the freedom we all enjoy today. Glory to the King of Kings!

Because strait is the gate and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it quotes Matthew 7:14.

Follow Ptr. Michael Sanchez:
Publication Adviser, The OPIF Digest