“…When You Come Into Your Kingdom”

William D. Edwards et al.'s Figure 2: 'Scourging. Left, Short whip (flagrum) with lead balls and sheep bones tied into leather thongs. Center left, Naked victim tied to flogging post. Deep stripelike lacerations were usually associated with considerable blood loss. Center right, View from above, showing position of lictors. Right, Inferomedial direction of wounds.' From 'On the Physical Death of Jesus Christ'. JAMA (March 21, 1986) used w/o permission.
From “On the Physical Death of Jesus Christ”, William D. Edwards et al. (March 21, 1986)

Jesus had been run back and forth between Caiaphas’, Pilate’s and Herod’s places; tortured, and nailed to a cross on Golgotha. (Matthew 26:4727:2; Mark 14:5315:41; Luke 22:6623:49)

No question about it. He was having a really bad day.

No, that’s not quite true. There have been alternative versions run up the flagpole.

But it’s been a few decades since I’ve seen assertions that Jesus didn’t really die.

The one I’m remembering was pretty straightforward: after being tortured and nailed to a cross, the Nazarene fainted. And Roman soldiers couldn’t tell the difference between a dead body and some chap who’d swooned.

I don’t know which is less likely: that someone survived the physical and psychological stress described in the Gospels, or that Roman soldiers didn’t know what “dead” looks like.

At any rate, I haven’t seen the ‘Jesus fainted’ assertion for decades. Maybe there are too many copies of Journal of the American Medical Association, March 21, 1986, still around.1

“…Jesus’ death after only three to six hours on the cross surprised even Pontius Pilate. The fact that Jesus cried out in a loud voice and then bowed his head and died suggests the possibility of a catastrophic terminal event….

“…Thus, it remains unsettled whether Jesus died of cardiac rupture or of cardiorespiratory failure. However, the important feature may be not how he died but rather whether he died. 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 ribs, probably perforated not only the right lung but also the pericardium and heart and thereby ensured his death (Fig 7). Accordingly, interpretations based on the assumption that Jesus did not die on the cross appear to be at odds with modern medical knowledge.”
(“On the Physical Death of Jesus Christ“; William D. Edwards, MD; Wesley J. Gabel, MDiv; Floyd E. Hosmer, MS, AM: Special Communication, JAMA, Vol 255, No. 11 (March 21, 1986))

And that’s not what I was going to talk about today.

Dialog on a Cross

'Crucifixion,' detail, Jacopo Tintoretto. (1565)That JAMA article described how being nailed to a cross made breathing very difficult.

And that’s why I’m guessing this dialog’s long and formal phrases are a polished version of the actual conversation:

“Above him there was an inscription that read, ‘This is the King of the Jews.’

“Now one of the criminals hanging there reviled Jesus, saying, ‘Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us.’

“The other, however, rebuking him, said in reply, ‘Have you no fear of God, for you are subject to the same condemnation?

“And indeed, we have been condemned justly, for the sentence we received corresponds to our crimes, but this man has done nothing criminal.’

“Then he said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’

“He replied to him, ‘Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.'”
(Luke 23:3843)

That said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom” is among my favorite bits in the Bible.

Here he was, nailed to a cross, talking to another guy who’d been worked over by the authorities and was also being crucified.

And he said “…when you come into your kingdom” — not “if”: “WHEN“.

That’s a first-rate example of faith. And one I’m apt to admire, since I think our Lord was being accurate when he said “…today you will be with me in Paradise.”

God Loves Us: All of Us

Brian H. Gill's 'Watching.' (2014)Then there’s the reason Jesus had been nailed to a cross. There’s a fair amount of theology and background involved, but I’ll skip that and just mention the motive.

God loves us, and wants to adopt us. All of us. (Romans 8:15; Ephesians 1:35; Peter 2:34; Catechism, 1-3, 27-30, 52, 1825, 1996)

That’s the best news humanity’s had.

Me? I took God up on the offer. So now I try, every day, to act as if the ‘family values’ matter to me.

Happily, the values, or rules, are simple: love God, love my neighbors, and see everybody as my neighbor. (Matthew 5:4344, 22:3640; Mark 12:2831; Luke 6:31 10:2527, 2937; Catechism, 1789)

I said “simple”, not “easy”.

I’ve talked about this sort of thing before:

1 Crucifixion from a medical perspective:

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About Brian H. Gill

I was born in 1951. I'm a husband, father and grandfather. One of the kids graduated from college in December, 2008, and is helping her husband run businesses and raise my granddaughter; another is a cartoonist and artist; #3 daughter is a writer; my son is developing a digital game with #3 and #1 daughters. I'm also a writer and artist.
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5 Responses to “…When You Come Into Your Kingdom”

  1. Seeing that quote about how long it took for Jesus to die after being nailed on the cross and how Pilate was surprised at the length got me thinking of the Sorry That I’m Dying trope. It’s endearing me to Our Lord some more, hahaha~ XD

    • 🙂 “Trope” as a word is comparatively new to me, and I hadn’t seen the Sorry That I’m Dying trope. https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/SorryThatImDying – – – my guess is that there’s always something more about Our Lord to draw us closer.
      On a more theological note, I see connections in the Death Equals Redemption and Heroic Sacrifice tropes, too. (The latter’s cartoon image gave me a much-needed laugh this morning. https://mediaproxy.tvtropes.org/width/350/https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/smbc_dinos.png )
      Then there’s John the Apostle, one of the two “sons of thunder”, and that’s almost another topic.

      • Careful, Mr. Gill, TV Tropes is said to be addictive, and even those running the site in question have a trope for it! XD

        And yeah, those two other tropes do apply Our Lord. Also, that dino has the mammals’ backs as much as the asteroids has the dinos’ backs, huh? As for St. John, the “Son of Thunder” title is new to me.

        • Warning noted. And appreciated. 😉

          St. John’s nickname is from Mark 3:17: “James, son of Zebedee, and John the brother of James, whom he named Boanerges, that is, sons of thunder;”

          Boanerges is ancient Greek, “apparently from Aramaic בני רגז‎ (bəney rəgaz, literally ‘sons of rage’), traditionally glossed as ‘sons of thunder’.” ( https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Boanerges )

          I don’t know how St. John’s appearance in Western religious art morphed into the fine-featured fellow that’s been standard for centuries now.

          Given my personality, I like – and am relieved by – the idea that at least two of the Apostles had that nickname.

          • Come to think of it, I was named after St. John as well, and considering my personality, I feel like my parents named me more fittingly than expected. Thanks very much for these fun facts again, then, Mr. Gill!

Thanks for taking time to comment!