If you are anything like me, I have many books piled up in my bookcase that I desire to read "at some point when I have time." But this winter I am dedicating myself to reading those articles, paperbacks and hardcovers that I've accumulated along the way. Continuously building my faith and my resolve is the goal because it seems proof that Jesus is the Son of God is the burning desire for those questioning the Christian faith.
One of the books tucked away on the shelves of my little office is entitled, The Case for Easter by Lee Strobel. Lee was a confirmed atheist until his wife became a believer and he felt the urge to prove she had been taken captive by what Lee described as a cult called Christianity. His first attempt to illuminate his wife's foolish sight ended in a strange occurrence. Lee became a believer in Jesus Christ. However, all the facts he gathered were composed into a book entitled, The Case for Christ. I saw the film by the same title and it walked spectators through Lee's struggle with believing Christianity and how he resolved most of his obstacles.
But questions lingered that burned within Lee's reporter mind. He felt he needed to further uncover answers as best as could be explained concerning the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Hence the book, The Case for Easter. Ironically, I bought the paperback edition several years ago with a solid conviction to read the data Lee gathered from well-known experts groomed in the fields of historical, archaeological and medical data concerning the death of Jesus of Nazareth. But somehow the book was placed on the shelf for another day. As I packed the book recently for a trip south, I began this morning to fulfill my obligation to read and study books I've had for quite some time.
I couldn't help but share with my readers what I discovered on the pages of this little paperback. With Easter less than a month away, it seems appropriate to remember, or detailed information given maybe for the first time of what Jesus suffered and endured in order to redeem us from the grips of hell itself. It you haven't viewed The Passion of the Christ, a movie that will cause the scripture from Isaiah 53 jump off the pages of the Bible, now would be a great time to rent a copy. But I warn you, it's a tough one to watch. The details of Christ's crucifixion is also difficult to read as I found this morning. However, it is what happened and Jesus did it because he loves us. Here are a few of the facts I was reminded of as I read the beginning of Lee's book, The Case for Easter.
Wanting to know the truth and feeling as though a professional would speak from a perspective other than emotional, Lee talked with Alexander Metherell, M.D., PH.D. regarding medical evidence surrounding the question did Jesus really die? There is a thought process in the world that believes Jesus didn't really die, He somehow walked away from the torture or was rescued. As I read through the step by step flogging Jesus received before being hung on the Cross, I had to stop because I couldn't see for the tears. Here are a few facts for you to ponder:
1. Roman floggings usually consisted of 39 lashes; depending on the mood of the soldier it could have been more.
2. The whip was made of braided leather thongs with metal balls woven into them. The whip had pieces of sharp bone as well, cutting the flesh severely. The balls would cause deep bruises or contusions, breaking opening with further blows.
3. The back would be shredded sometimes so badly the spine would be exposed by the deep cuts.
4. Lacerations would tear into the underlying skeletal muscles and produce quivering ribbons of bleeding flesh.
5. Hypovolemic shock might be an outcome for the victims of flogging. This is the loss of a massive amount of blood. Hypovolemic shock causes; a. the heart races to try and pump blood that isn't there; b. blood pressure drops; c. fainting or collapsing occurs and d. person becomes very thirsty as the body craves fluids.
After this horrific torture, Jesus was then made to carry his own wooden cross. The open wounds of his body rubbing against the wood of the cross enduring the pain and suffering that some individuals died from after the flogging alone, hardly able to stand from the loss of blood, he crumbles under the load and Simon was pulled from the crowd to carry the cross the rest of the way.
When the destination is reached his arms were outstretched on the horizontal beam where five to seven inch nails, long and tapered to a sharp point were driven through his wrists locking his hands. And do you know the result of what happened when that nail went through the place were the median nerve runs? The explanation was given that just as it pains you to hit your funny bone in your elbow by accident, this nerve in the wrist is like "taking a pair of pliers, squeezing and crushing that nerve". The pain would be unbearable and excruciating. By the way, excruciating means "out of the cross".
Once placed on the vertical beam, his feet were nailed in a similar fashion crushing the nerves and the beam was set upright. Immediately the outstretched arms, would have endured six inches of additional stretching due to the weight of his body and that would have dislocated his shoulders. Then the slow death of asphyxiation would have begun.
Medical terms such as respiratory acidosis, pericardial effusion and pleural effusion were used to describe the cause of death for Jesus. Look them up and learn specifically what was happening to the human body of Jesus Christ.
Why do I share my reading from this morning? Because wherever you are and whatever your belief system, Jesus loves you. Jesus gave his life on that cruel cross and endured that pain and suffering so that he might become the perfect sacrifice for our sins. Up until this time it was all about offering the most perfect animal and having the High Priest lift it up on the altar for sins. Once and for all, Jesus Christ became that perfect sacrifice for you and for me.
Although there is more to Lee Strobel's book, The Case for Easter, I was nudged to end this particular writing ending with a question Lee asked of Metherell, "Is there any possible way - any possible way - that Jesus could have survived this?" (In other words, Jesus didn't really die as is recorded in scripture. He survived, right?) Metherel shook his head and responded, "Absolutely not," he said. "Remember that he was already in hypovolemic shock from the massive blood loss even before the crucifixion started. He couldn't possibly have faked his death, because you can't fake the inability to breathe for long. Besides, the spear thrust into his heart would have settled the issue once and for all. And the Romans weren't about to risk their own death by allowing him to walk away alive."
Read the evidence for yourself. The Case for Easter, by Lee Strobel. Lee doesn't stop with needing proof of Jesus' death, he visits next William Lane Craig, PH.D., D.TH. with the question, "Was Jesus' body really absent from his tomb?" It is a very interesting read; good apologetic information for the believer and an aid for the questioning mind.
But the Bible says:
John 14:6 (NIV)
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
The Case for Easter, by Lee Strobel. Copyright 1998, 2003 by Lee Strobel. Published by Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan