July 30th 2010

Jesus Actually Died

“Jesus called out with a loud voice, ‘Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.’ When he had said this, he breathed his last.”
Luke 23: 46 (NIV)

Jesus died on the cross.

Four separate historical sources, called the gospels, record his death. Even though the gospels were religiously motivated, they still describe the details of the crucifixion in slightly different ways, thus adding to the authenticity of his death on the cross. First century non-Christian writers such as Josephus, Tacitus, Lucian of Samosata, and Mara Bar-Serapian, also refer to Christ’s execution.

Despite this strong historical evidence, opponents of Christianity have claimed that Jesus did not die on the cross. They say that probably he was near death but was later resuscitated by his disciples.

In actuality very few people have been recorded as surviving the ordeal of Roman scourging and crucifixion.  There is a reference to some victims who were pardoned after crucifixion began and who were taken down soon after they had been strapped or nailed to the cross, but even then the survival rate was low. There is no reason to suppose that Jesus was removed prematurely or that he was spared in some way. No powerful official intervened on his behalf.

The intent, as in all accounts of crucifixion, was an agonizing death. To suggest that Christ did not die goes against not only the specific historical records but also against the overwhelming evidence that crucifixion consistently led to death.

The early followers of Jesus believed he had died. His disciples, his family, those who lived within and around Jerusalem at the time of his public execution, plus those who were hostile to the faith, all could have refuted his death but none did. As the preacher Stephen said to the assembled crowds in Jerusalem just a few weeks later, in alluding to the treachery of the mock trial and to the subsequent brutal crucifixion of Christ, “now you have betrayed and murdered him” (Acts 7:52).

Why did he die? The Bible says, “he died for us” (1 Thessalonians 5:10), but that’s another story – in fact, it is the greatest story ever told.

Great God, thank you for the reality of the death of Christ, and for the fact that he died for us.  In Jesus’ name.

Study by SEP Staff

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