This time of the year, many questions about Jesus seem to be explored in blogs, articles, television documentaries and even in hallway conversations at places of work and school. Much like political discussions, presenting evidence and arguments about Jesus Christ will cause some division and frustration among even the best of friends and family members. So what’s the deal with Jesus? Did He really die? Does it really matter?
Because many people live in a world of natural skepticism, most have the conviction that they must “see in order to believe.” Obviously with a timeframe of nearly 2000 years ago, seeing cannot really be the same as believing. In fact, there are many world events and historical facts that I believe to be true that I was not able to see with my own eyes that happened shortly before I was born. Those events are not less true because I didn’t see them take place.
Without getting too deep into the validity of the Bible in this blog post, (because you can read this blog post of mine to dive into that discussion by clicking here) the Bible does give valuable evidence that Jesus actually died and was buried and rose again.
Did Jesus really die?
All four gospels share the narrative of Jesus’ being hung on a Roman cross of crucifixion, and left there to die. Some believe that in order to make His own words of death come true, Jesus just “fell asleep” and pretended to be dead, or that He was exhausted from the beatings and from hanging there, so He just passed out. How do we know that Jesus actually died?
Mark 15:44-45 says, “Pilate was surprised to hear that he should have already died. And summoning the centurion, he asked him whether he was already dead. And when he learned from the centurion that he was dead, he granted the corpse to Joseph.”
Pilate heard and asked his centurion to verify that Jesus was dead. Not only did Pilate believe it was try, but had one of his own soldiers verify the fact. So how did the centurion know that Jesus was dead?
John 19:33-34, “But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water.”
The blood and water came from Jesus’ side after His death because when Jesus was flogged and beaten and hung on the cross, His heart, lungs and kidneys would have all been severely affected by the trauma. Because of low blood flow due to the loss during the beating, Jesus would’ve gone into some form of hypovolemic shock. Blood pressure would be low, the kidneys would shut down, and the heart would race all at the same time. As a result, fluid would’ve gathered around His heart and lungs while He hung on the cross. So when the centurion pierced His side, water and blood both came out showing that His internal organs had shut down and He was dead.
Another fact to consider is what happened after the crucifixion when they went to bury Jesus. After Joseph of Arimethea took Jesus’ body and placed it in a new grave, the Bible shares an interesting reaction by Pilate and his men.
Matthew 27:62-66, “The next day, that is, after the day of Preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate and said, “Sir, we remember how that impostor said, while he was still alive, ‘After three days I will rise.’ Therefore order the tomb to be made secure until the third day, lest his disciples go and steal him away and tell the people, ‘He has risen from the dead,’ and the last fraud will be worse than the first.” Pilate said to them, “You have a guard[j] of soldiers. Go, make it as secure as you can.” So they went and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone and setting a guard.”
So they not only accepted that Jesus actually died, but even made preparations for securing His tomb knowing there was a possibility something would happen to His body on the third day. They admitted Jesus was dead, and were afraid of even more disruption caused by His disciples.
Did Jesus die? He absolutely did. His body stopped working, His heart and lungs shut down, and He breathed His last breath while hanging on the cross. Jesus’ death absolutely matters because without His death, we would have no hope for any kind of payment for our sins. The Bible is clear that unless there is shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness of sin. In fact, Genesis 3 shows that God offered the first sacrifice for Adam and Eve before they left the Garden after their first sin. That’s why all throughout the Old Testament, God required animal sacrifices from His people to pay for their own sin. But once Jesus came and died a substitutionary death for our sins, and because He was without sin, He was able to be the sacrifice for us! He didn’t just take a beating and pass out for our sins, but He actually allowed His body to be beaten, broken and buried because of our sins. Without His death, we would have no payment for sins.
Thankfully….Sunday was coming…