THE WOUNDS OF Jesus.
(This article was written by Dr. J.J. Van Zyl, who is a Medical Doctor and who has studied the times of Christ from a Historical, Theological point of view and described Jesus's wounds from the point of view of a Doctor)
As I share this revelation with you I am deeply moved as I don't believe it is possible to describe fully in any human language the intensity of His suffering. I am always overcome with emotion when I call to remembrance these facts, especially being a medical doctor and having seer, so much pain and sickness, I relate to His experience with perhaps a fuller understanding of His suffering.
In the garden of Gethsemane, He wrested as a man, yet also as the Son of God with the truth that He and He alone had this cup to drink. What a mental agony and torture for He knew the cost! He knew what lay ahead and He was fully man, in making that decision He sweated blood! (Luke 22:44). He was arrested and taken captive.
The word tells us that they hit Him with reeds and sticks through-out the night. He was blindfolded and taunted, punched by Roman soldiers and challenged to prophecy who had hit Him (Luke 22:64).
I believe that in this process His teeth were knocked out, His lips were lacerated, I believe that in this process, His nose was damaged. His eyes swollen from beating and bruising making Him unable to see and His ear drums perforated by the blows to the side of His head with open hands.
He was gruesomely assaulted. The Bible says that He was unrecognizable (Is.52:14). The soldiers and bystanders jeered and spat at Him. They plucked out His beard (Is.50:6). You know how painful it is to have one eyebrow hair plucked out - yet rough and ruthless hands grabbed at Jesus' beard and jerked it out.
Then they came to the scourging! A cruel punishment during which many people died.
The hands were fastened above the head and a large, powerful Roman soldier took a cat-of-nine-tails and applied it to the body 39 times. (According to the Roman Law, not more than 40 lashes could be given, so, to be sure of not breaking the law 39 strokes were decided upon by the Jews).
History tells us that the whip used for this scourging had a short wooden handle with nine leather thongs and each thong had woven in it pieces of glass, bone and stone. Thus each stroke was in fact nine lashes. Each time the pieces of glass, bone and stone dug into the flesh, they cut deeply right to the bone, ripping out pieces of flesh. The law proclaimed that two thirds of the lashes would be administered to the back and one third to the front of the body. His back looked like a ploughed field says the Psalmist (Ps.129:3). A purple garment was hung over the raw, bleeding open wounds of Jesus and later, after it had dried on the wounds it was pulled off and the bleeding aggravated again.
A crown of thorns was pushed onto His head (John 19:2,5). I discovered two things about the crown of thorns. Firstly that it was not a circle of thorns, but a cap of thorns that covered the whole scalp. Secondly that the thorns were from a local shrub and were approx 2,5cm long with barbs like fish hooks - once imbedded into the scalp, they were not able to be pulled out. His crown alone must have been punishment indeed.
Jesus had to carry His own Cross up a steep hill to Calvary and this after being assaulted through-out the night and after losing a great amount of blood due to lacerations caused by the scourging. It was a heavy cross, weighing about 75 kg. And He stumbled due to weakness under its tremendous weight. He most probably fell as He stumbled and grazed His knees and elbows.
At this point I want to deviate from the Scriptures and give my own impression of Jesus as a man. Jesus is so often portrayed as a man of slight stature, gentle spirited, clad in a long robe and holding a lamb. I believe however that a more logical conclusion would be that Jesus was a very well built, strong man with tremendous charisma. I base this deduction on the fact that Jesus was a carpenter during His teens and early manhood and we are well aware that there were no mechanical implements with which to do the hard labour. When Jesus needed a plank in the carpenter's shop, He was obliged to go and chop down a tree, and saw the log to make planks. One need only look at the picture of "Lumber Jacks" in early years to see the muscular build He must have had. Another point I would like to make is that one does not approach rough fishermen with the words "follow me" and expect them to drop their nets and to obey without an argument, unless the one speaking those words had the visible qualities of strength, masculinity and authority.
Finally, when Jesus entered the Temple and found that His Father's house had been deserted, He, singlehandedly overturned the tables and disrupted the traders and their businesses without any retaliation, proves to me that not one person was prepared to try and physically stop Him.
This strong Jesus was unable to carry His cross. One, Simon of Cyrene, who is believed to have been a black man, was ordered to carry the cross for Jesus to the top of the hill where there were already two crosses in position (Mat.27:32). On one cross hung a murderer and on the other one a thief, the cross of Jesus was to be placed between the two (Luke 23:33). And when they came to the place which is called Calvary, there they crucified Him, and the malefactors, one on the right and the other on the left. Luke describes the crucifixion here in but a few words, however it was a horrific occurrence each time some-one was crucified.
As I describe it, you will realize just how much the Father must have agonized to see His precious, sinless, spotless Son suffer to the maximum. Note as we go through the agony, how Jesus was wounded and bruised from the crown of His head to the soles of His feet - this was to pay for sickness and disease that effect every part of our bodies - from head to toe. He took them all upon Himself! From the crown of thorns on His head to the sharp nails that pierced His feet until they came through the soles.
Roman soldiers held Jesus down on that cross with one arm outstretched along the cross piece. A four sided nail (approx 15cm) with a sharp point was hammered through His wrist, (which is a part of the hand) I believe it was through His wrist as there is only soft tissue in the hand which would tear under the weight as there is only soft tissue in the hand which would tear under the weight of the body hanging thereon. In the wrist there are eight small and two long bones held together by powerful ligaments, capsules and tendons. These bones were torn apart by the penetrating nail and the pain must have been indescribable. We know how painful it is just to sprain a wrist. A large nerve, namely the median nerve, runs parallel to the wrist and in the centre and supplies movement to the thumb and sensation to a large portion of the hand. This nerve was stretched over one of the four corners of the nail like a guitar string over the bridge, causing severe cramps in the thumb, and causing imbedding of the thumb nail deep into the palm of the hand.
One of the most painful conditions is that of a nerve being stretched, and this is precisely what occurred. Everyone has had the experience of being in a dentist's chair and having a tooth drilled. As the drill comes within the vicinity of the nerve of that tooth (which is the thickness of a hair) the pain is extreme. Can you just imagine how excruciating it is to have a large nerve, which is the thickness of a knitting needle being in a constantly stretched position over the sharp side of the nail?
They took the other arm of Jesus and stretched it to the maximum position in the opposite direction. The second nail was driven through His other wrist, deep into the wood.
His two feet were positioned flat up against the cross, one over the other. A longer nail of similar design was driven through the small bones of both feet - tearing them apart. It is important to note that His knees were in a bent position (flexed) and there is a reason for this which we will discuss later. The cross was lifted up and dropped into a hole prepared for it. From that moment the struggle between life and death commenced. When the cross struck the bottom of the hole, the momentum of the body, because of it's weight, continued in a downward position. This causes not only further tearing of tissues, skin, tendons, etc. But the shoulder joints were jerked out of their sockets. The Psalmist tells us that every joint of His body was dislocated (Ps.22:14). The chest muscles were pulled in an upward direction, causing the chest to be pulled up in a position of maximum inspiration. This is similar to a severe asthma attack. The lungs were full of air. This resulted in a shortage of oxygen in the blood stream causing the skin to become cyanotic (blue colour), the eyes to become bloodshot and protruding, a profuse condition of perspiration as in suffocation and this sweat then ran into the raw wounds accentuating the pain. This condition is known medically as a respiratory acidosis.
Soon the muscles were deprived of even the little oxygen that had remained in the blood with the result that muscular cramp developed over the whole body. This condition is known medically as metabolic acidosis and can be compared with the cramps developed by an unfit athlete when in training. Imagine the pain experienced because of these cramps!
The only way in which the crucified could receive some oxygen was to straighten His knees, placing the full weight of the body on that solitary nail through the feet. The muscles pulling up the chest would thereby slacken and the chest moved down making expiration (breaking out) possible. At this point the pain was so severe because of the weight on the nail in the feet that although breath was desperately needed, He had to take that breath very quickly and bend the knees again replacing the body weight onto the dislocated shoulders. This process continued for hours whilst weakening progressed. Eventually the person was too weak to straighten the legs and suffocation took place. During this struggle a condition of acute heart failure developed and water was formed around the heart. In the case of Jesus this suffering on the cross took 6 hours.
It was common belief at that time that the crucified was cursed and if the body was removed before sundown, a curse would return to that land. Because of this belief, the soldiers take an iron rod and break the legs below the knees of those who had not yet died before sunset. This would make it impossible for them to straighten their legs in order to breathe and they died of suffocation. When they came to Jesus however, He was already dead. This fulfilled the prophecy which stated that not a bone of His body was broken (John 19:32-33).
A Roman soldier took a spear and pierced the side of Jesus. I believe it was His right side so that it could penetrate His intestines, liver, lungs and into His heart (John 19:34). As the spear penetrated the heart sack, the water that had accumulated around the heart due to the acute heart failure, was released and poured out of the wound. Then as the spear penetrated through the heart wall, blood was released and poured out of the wound.
If we grasp this picture of indescribable suffering and mutilation we will realize that the body of Jesus was unrecognizable and it certainly bore no resemblance to the pictures of Jesus on the Cross presented to us by tradition, namely that of Jesus with an angelic expression, hair neatly combed into place with here and there a spot of blood and a loin cloth draped around His hips. I believe that He hung naked. This was the greatest form of humiliation known to a Jewish man - to be exposed in public.
Is. 52:14: "As many were astonished at thee, His visage was so marred more than any man, and His form more than the sons of men". Never was a body so mutilated as that of Jesus Christ the Son of God who paid the price for our salvation and healing. Can you see how His body was broken from the crown of His head where thorns penetrate to the soles of His feet - penetrated by nails - His head, eyes, nose, ears, teeth, lips, skin, lungs, intestines, liver, heart and so we can go on, for the "whosoever" who will believe and receive by faith so great a sacrifice!
It is of these wounds that Isaiah, Matthew and Peter spoke and also Jesus when He broke the bread. It is impossible for any Church, theology or tradition to argue away these wounds of Jesus and thus it is an indisputable fact that it is God's Will to heal. Who else would He have allowed His only begotten Son to be mutilated in such a way?
(1Cor.11:27-30): "Therefore, if anyone eats of the bread or drinks from the cup of the Lord unworthily, he sins against the Body and Blood of the Lord. Let each one, then, examine himself before eating of the Bread and drinking from the Cup. Otherwise, he eats and drinks his own condemnation in not recognizing the Body. This is the reason why so many among you are sick and weak and several have died".
(Isaiah 53:5). "But He was PIERCED for our transgressions, and by His stripes we are healed".
"Take and eat this is MY BODY BROKEN for you, do this in remembrance of ME".
THIS SUPREME SACRIFICE WAS MADE OVER 2000 YEARS AGO FOR YOU AND ME. IF WE ACCEPT IT WE CAN HAVE ETERNAL LIFE AND COMPLETE HEALING.
"The real aim of all spiritual growth is to become your true self." (Thomas Merton)