It makes sense to us, but it is a fact worth stating: to raise from the dead you must first truly be dead. Our lesson this week does a nice job of looking at the evidence of this fact.
First is the fact that someone died on the cross. For the Roman soldiers, this execution was not their first rodeo. They knew a lot about crucifixion, execution and death. The new the signs of life and of death having experienced it over and over again. They not only pronounced him dead by observation, but initiated a more thorough bodily exam by piercing his side with a spear while he still hung on the cross. The direction of the spear into someone suspended above the soldier would have pierced into his diaphragm, lungs and possibly even to his heart. If he was still alive, air would have gasped through the wound from the lungs, blood would have pulsed out through the cut arteries, the man would have cried out, moaned, or at least reflexed from the incision.
Second, the body was taken down from the cross and buried. But, before he was placed in a tomb alone for three days he was wrapped and packed in spices by two individuals who had permission from Pilate and who cared about the murdered man. If he was still alive, they would have seen evidence and would not have placed him enshrouded in a sealed tomb by himself. They would have whisked the body away to provide medical treatment, not left it in a tomb.
Third, now that it is established that someone died and was buried, could it have been someone other than Jesus. Now this gets into a great conspiracy theory. But when and how could the switch have been made. When he was arrested Judas clearly knew who Jesus was and gave no indication by his subsequent suicide that he pointed to a counterfeit. Peter’s response to the arrest is not in keeping with them masquerading someone else as Jesus, nor do the actions of the Apostles following the arrest. Jesus, once in custody, does not leave the hands of the soldiers, so there is a consistent chain of custody. Even in Pilate’s quarters, he is still surrounded by the guards who torture and mock him. When he is on the cross he speaks to His mother and John who recognize Him and His voice. Other women are present. The Jewish Leaders, who have observed Jesus repeatedly and who watched Him ride in triumphantly less than a week before, recognize Him and believe He is Jesus of Nazareth. Furthermore, even after He has died, all believe He is the one in the tomb, the Romans who post guards, the Jews who request the guards, the women who go the day after Passover to finalize preparations of His body, the Apostles who run to the empty tomb.
The fact that Jesus lived is cross referenced in many different writings, biblical and other historic documents and all attest to His life and death without dispute.
I think the evidence would support the fact that Jesus died on the cross. We’ll discuss the evidence of what happens next another day.
1. Roman soldiers knew about death on a cross. 2. His side was pierced and blood and water flowed out. Depending on how deeply they pierced it may have pierced his lungs or heart as well.
To rise from the dead he had to be dead
No broken bones, not left until morning, pierced for our transgressions
Pierced for our transgressions, crushed for iniquities, our punishment was on him. The Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all (scapegoat but He is the High Priest) – They will look on the one they have pierced and mourn, a fountain will be opened to the house of David to cleanse them from sin and impurity