A Medical View of the Crucifixion (Part 1)
"The physical trauma of Christ begins in Gethsemane with one of the initial aspects of His suffering- the bloody sweat. It is interesting that the physician of the group St. Luke, is the only on to mention this. He says, “And being in agony, He prayed the longer. And his sweat became as drops of loose blood, trickling down upon the ground.”
"Though very rare, the phenomenon of hemathidrosis, or bloody sweat, is well documented. Under the great emotional stress, tiny capillaries in the sweat glands can break, thus mixing blood with sweat. This process alone could have produced marked weakness and possible shock.
"After the arrest in the middle of the night, Jesus was brought before the Sanhedrin and Caiaphas, the High Priest. A soldier struck Jesus across the face for remaining silent when questioned by the High Priest. The palace guards then blindfolded Him and mockingly taunted Him to identify them as they each passed by, spat upon Him, and struck Him in the face.
"In the early morning, Jesus, battered and bruised, dehydrated, and exhausted from a sleepless night, is taken across Jerusalem to the Praetorium of the Fortress Antonia. It was there, in response to the cries of the mob, that Pilate ordered Bar-Abbas released and condemned Jesus to scourging and crucifixion.
"Preparations for the scourging are carried out. The prisoner is stripped of His clothing and His hands are tied to a post above His head. The Roman legionnaire steps forward with the flagrum in his hand. This is a short whip consisting of several heave, leather thongs with two small balls of lead attached near the ends of each. The heavy whip is brought down with full force again and again across Jesus’ shoulders, back and legs.
"At first the heavy thongs cut through the skin only. Then, as the blows continue, they cut deeper in the subcutaneous tissues, producing first an oozing of blood from the capillaries and veins of the skin and finally spurting arterial bleeding from vessels in the underlying muscles. The small balls of lead first produce large, deep bruises which are broken open by subsequent blows.
"Finally the skin of the back is hanging in long ribbons and the entire area is an unrecognizable mass of torn, bleeding tissue. When it is determined by the centurion in charge that the prisoner is bear death, the beating is finally stopped.
"The half-fainting Jesus is then untied and allowed to slump to the stone pavement, wet with His own blood. The Roman soldiers see a great joke in this provincial Jew claiming to be a king. They throw a robe across His shoulders and place a stick in His hand for a scepter. A small bundle of flexible branches covered with long thorns is then pressed into his scalp.
"Again there is a copious bleeding (the scalp being one of the most vascular areas of the body). After mocking Him and striking Him across the face, the soldiers take the stick from His hand and strike Him across the head, driving the thorns deeper into his scalp. Finally they tire of their sadistic sport and the robe is torn from his back. This had already become adherent to the clots of blood and serum in the wounds, and it’s removal, just as in the careless removal of a surgical bandage, causes excruciating pain- almost as though He were again being whipped, and the wounds again begin to bleed."