Did Jesus REALLY Die?

Matthew 27:48-50 (NKJV)

48 Immediately one of them ran and took a sponge, filled it with sour wine and put it on a reed, and OFFERED IT TO HIM TO DRINK. 49 The rest said, “Let Him alone; let us see if Elijah will come to save Him.” 50 And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and YIELDED UP HIS SPIRIT.

There are many who teach that Jesus did not actually die on the Cross. Some have opined that He ingested a drug that caused Him to fall asleep (vs. 48), then He later revived in His tomb. This is known as the swoon hypothesis.

Such reasoning goes against what the Bible itself teaches. The Bible does not teach Jesus slipping into a coma or “fainting” on the Cross. Scripture’s testimony is that He actually died! (see Rom 5:8, 1 Cor 15:3, 1 Thess 4:14).

In ancient Greek times, a drug was given to the crucified to help numb their pain. Matthew 27:34 tells us that Jesus actually rejected this drug. Jesus only accepted vinegar much later on the Cross, to quench His thirst (vs. 48).

There is also a preponderance of evidence which supports the truth that Jesus really did die on the Cross:

• The Old Testament, when foretelling the work of the Messiah, teaches that He would DIE, not sleep (see Isa 53:5-10, Ps 22:16, Dan 9:26, Zech 12:10).

The Old Testament also predicted that the Messiah would be raised (Ps 16:10, Isa 26:19). Only dead bodies are raised back to life! (see Dan 12:2).

• Jesus affirmed the words of the Old Testament concerning His death. He confirmed several times that He would die (John 2:19-21, 10:10-11, Matt 12:40, 17:22-23, Mark 8:31).

• The intensity of the injuries inflicted on Jesus could not have been survived, especially without immediate medical attention.

He had to walk about two and a half miles, from Pilate to Herod and back again, not having slept the night before (Luke 23:6-12, Matt 26:17-46), He was beaten with fists and the Roman cat-o’-nine-tails whip, which had sharp metal spikes, stones and bones attached to it, ripping out flesh when pulled back (Mark 14:65, John 19:1), a crown of sharp thorns was hammered into His skull (Matt 27:27-31), and an heavy cross placed on His lacerated back (John 19:17).

There is evidence that Jesus suffered from hematohidrosis just before His crucifixion. This is a rare medical condition that makes the skin tender and causes blood vessels to burst. In this case, sweat mingles with the blood and drops to the floor. This is usually caused by extreme mental anguish, akin to what Jesus must have faced at Gethsemane (see Luke 22:44, Matt 26:38).

Due to severe blood loss, Jesus is in hypovolemic shock and unable to carry His cross for long. He has to be assisted by one Simon of Cyrene (Matt 27:32).

His sufferings culminate in His crucifixion (Mark 15:24). His wrists and feet are hammered into the wooden Cross, which (by Roman tradition) is then lifted up (Mark 15:24-25, John 19:18). He would have lost more blood from the ruptured arterial vessels in His hands and feet. Jesus is left suspended in the air, hanging by His wrists. The weight of His body would have pulled His nailed wrists and feet downwards, further expanding the lacerations and causing more blood loss. Jesus was on the Cross for about six hours (the third to ninth hour, i.e. 9AM-3PM). Throughout that time period, He must have bled continuously from His punctured hands, skull and feet.

He also would have hyperventilated since crucifixion pulls the diaphragm down, requiring one to draw himself up to exhale. This constant upward movement would have continuously widened the holes in His nail-pierced hands and feet, causing excruciating pain.

Because He could scarcely gasp for air and exhale, His oxygen levels would have dropped dangerously low, leading to carbon dioxide build-up in His blood. The heart goes into action immediately in such cases, beating faster in an attempt to circulate available oxygen.

Since His oxygen levels were so low (due to His difficulty inhaling and exhaling), His capillaries and tissues would be damaged in the process. Watery fluid would then leak from the blood into the tissues, resulting in a build-up of fluid around the heart (pericardial effusion) and lungs (pleural effusion).

This means that on the Cross, Jesus’ heart was failing, His lungs collapsing; He was dehydrated, bleeding out and suffocating, slowly, painfully. A cardiac arrest was inevitable.

A Roman soldier also pierced His lung into His heart with a spear to confirm His death (John 19:34).

The magnitude of these injuries cannot be survived by anyone, even if they were in good health prior.

• Jesus’ words on the Cross affirm that He actually died. He gave out a loud cry, “Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit,” and breathed His last (Luke 23:46). His death-cry was heard by all who were there present (vv. 47-49).

• Crucifixion was a Roman execution method. The Roman soldiers were trained to confirm the death of the crucified victim. The legs of victims who remained alive for too long were to be broken to speed up their death. The Roman soldiers (who were skilled professionals at verifying death) pronounced Jesus dead, hence, His bones didn’t need to be broken (John 19:31-33).

• Pilate verified Jesus’ death before He released His body to Joseph of Arimathea (Mark 15:44-45).

• Jesus’ body was wrapped in about 100 pounds of cloth and spices (myrrh and aloes) and placed in a sealed tomb for three days (John 19:39-40, Matt 27:59-60). If truly He escaped death on the Cross, He definitely would not have escaped death from suffocation, hunger and His wounds in the tomb!

• Lastly, medical authorities who have examined the circumstances and nature of Christ’s death have concluded that He actually died on the cross.

An article in the Journal of the American Medical Society (March 21, 1986) concluded:

Clearly, the weight of historical and medical evidence indicates that Jesus was dead before the wound to his side was inflicted and supports the traditional view that the spear, thrust between his right rib, probably perforated not only the right lung but also the pericardium and heart and thereby ensured his death. Accordingly, interpretations based on the assumption that Jesus did not die on the cross appear to be at odds with modern medical knowledge” (p. 1463).

Modern clinicians have affirmed that Jesus’ death was ultimately caused by the physical trauma (beatings) and crucifixion He endured. The widely accepted hypothesis is that He died due to cardiac rupture, asphyxiation and shock.

The torture from the Roman soldiers must have caused multiple blunt and penetrating trauma on His body, coupled with His blood loss, and pressure on the thoracic cavity on the Cross. This has led to conclusion by medical practitioners that the manner of Jesus’ death is “multifactorial; multiple blunt, and occasionally penetrating trauma, which led slowly to death by this mechanism” (Bergeron JW. The crucifixion of Jesus: Review of hypothesized mechanisms of death and implications of shock and trauma-induced coagulopathy. J Forensic Leg Med. 2012;19(3):113–116).

In a lengthy research work on Jesus’ death, Edwards et al affirmed that a combination of scourging from deep stripe-like lacerations and blood loss led to hypovolemic shock exacerbated by asphyxiation from the crucifixion process (Edwards WD, Gabel WJ, Hosmer FE.. On the physical death of Jesus Christ. JAMA. 1986; 255(11):1455–1463). This ultimately led to Jesus’ death.


© Josh Banks Ministries. 2022.


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