Did Jesus die on the cross? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.
There are some theories that should have died several several years ago and never did. Unfortunately, they keep rising up despite being put to death by the people that would have been their ablest defenders had there been any truth whatsoever to them.
One such idea is the swoon theory. This is the idea that Jesus never died on the cross.
In fact, it was Strauss years ago, who was beyond most liberals today in critiquing the NT, who put to death this theory. Strauss said that someone like Jesus who was half-dead could hardly have come out of the tomb and managed to just a few days after crucifixion appear to his disciples and proclaim that He was the Lord of Life who had conquered death. The apostles would not have called it a miracle. They would have called a doctor instead.
Yet this theory never seems to die. What are some reasons for it?
First, a large number of Muslims hold to this view saying that according to the Koran, Jesus did not die on the cross. Now since I am not an authority on the Koran, I will not comment on this point, but one does not need to be an authority to know that many Muslims make this claim.
Second, this is a popular claim that is popular on the internet and with conspiracy theories with such ideas as that Jesus never died but instead got up and went who knows where. There is even a group in Japan that thinks Jesus went all the way there and married and died.
Third, some people do look at the claim that some people were brought down from the cross and survived. This number could be counted on one hand and even more numerous would be the people who did not survive even when taken down. In fact, right off, I only know of one person who survived. This was when Josephus asked for three of his friends to be removed from crosses. All three got the best medical care Rome could provide. Only one survived.
In fact, several years ago, the Journal of the American Medical Association wrote an article where they stated firmly that based on medical knowledge we have today, that Jesus did indeed die on the cross.
At this point, I also think a certain objection must be added from some of the more unitarian bent who want to say “If Jesus is God, how did He die on the cross? Gods can’t die!”
The problem with this statement lies in what is meant by the word “die.” If you mean that God ceased to exist when Jesus died, then yes, God cannot die. God cannot cease to exist. Yet no one arguing for the resurrection claims that God ceased to exist on the cross.
What does it mean? It means that some aspect of Christ, perhaps His soul, left His body on the cross. Many of us don’t think we cease to exist when we die. We just go to live in another state. If this is the case for Christ, then Christ did the same thing. His soul experienced a separation from His body. A reuniting took place on Sunday morning in a new and glorified body.
It is a shame that the conclusion needs to be spelled out. Jesus did indeed live. Jesus was indeed crucified. Jesus did indeed die. Unfortunately, in our age of people often relying largely on internet searches and wikipedia instead of real scholarly research, this needs to be spelled out.