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Did Jesus Really Die?

He said, “It is finished!” And He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.
—-John 19:30

Before we look at the evidence for Jesus’s resurrection, we need to establish whether Jesus died.

Some people think that Jesus didn’t actually die on the cross. The swoon theory is an idea that claims Jesus just fainted; He swooned. People thought Jesus was dead, so they took Him off the cross and put Him in the tomb. But after a couple of days, the cool air resuscitated Jesus and He walked out of the tomb. So what His followers thought was a resurrection was really a resuscitation. Is that a plausible theory? Let’s look at what Jesus endured on the cross.

John 19:1 says, “Pilate then took Jesus and scourged Him.” Jesus’s ordeal began with a scourging. He was tied to a post and beaten with a Roman whip called a cat-o’-nine-tails, a strip of leather with jagged bones and lead balls woven into it. This whip produced lacerations that made His back a mass of torn and bleeding tissue. Then five- to seven-inch spikes were driven through His wrists and His feet.

A person who was crucified usually died from suffocation. If a Roman soldier wanted to hasten the victim’s death, he would break the victim’s legs so that he could no longer push himself up and breathe. That is what happened to the men who were crucified with Christ: “So the soldiers came, and broke the legs of the first man and of the other who was crucified with Him; but coming to Jesus, when they saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs” (John 19:32-33). By not breaking Jesus’s legs, the soldiers fulfilled a prophecy in Psalm 34:20 that not a bone of the Messiah would be broken. And to make sure that Jesus was dead, a Roman soldier thrust a spear through His side, puncturing the sac around His heart. Let’s suppose Jesus somehow survived all that. Look what happened to Him in John 19:39. “Nicodemus … also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds weight.” In the days before a body would be embalmed, they would take about 100 pounds of spices and wrap them in cloths around the body to prevent premature decay.

Think about what it would have taken for Jesus to have been resuscitated from all of that. He was scourged; He endured crucifixion; He had a spear thrust in His side; He was wrapped in 100 pounds of spices. Can you see Him inching Himself off the table and unwrapping Himself? In addition, there was a stone in front of the sepulchre–a stone so large it could not be moved by 20 men. Now let’s suppose Jesus was somehow able to move the stone. Then He had to defeat 16 Roman guards. Can you imagine what kind of shape Jesus would have been in? When He stood before His disciples, instead of bowing to worship Him, they would have called 911. Nobody could have survived that. The idea that Jesus simply fainted on the cross is beyond belief. Jesus died, as 1 Corinthians 15:3 says, according to the Scriptures.


Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Easter: Fact or Fantasy?” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2016.

Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

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