Category Archives: CRUCIFIXION OF JESUS

Crucifixion of Jesus was foreseen.JUdas, some Jewish leaders and Pilate were only the means to the fulfillment. Matthew’s anti-Jewish polemic was described as “redactional fiction”. The 2nd Vatican Council declared that “the charge can be made neither “against all the Jews, without distinction, then alive, nor against the Jews of today”.

How Long Was Jesus On The Cross Before He Died?

A Contradiction In The Gospels —

There seems to be some confusion in the Gospels about the time Jesus was on the cross before he died.

Jesus Before Pilate
Jesus Before Pilate

This confusion is because of:

Mark 15:25 tells us Jesus was crucified at the third hour.

John 19:14.tells us the crucifixion took place after the sixth hour.

Were the statements of these two evangelists contradictory? We’ll get to this after we study the two methods of calculating extant during the time of Jesus.

During the time of Jesus it was customary for the Jewish daytime hours to begin with dawn and end with sundown, which began the next day.

The Romans on the other hand began their day at midnight and counted 12 hours to 12 noon and then 12 hours from noon to midnight.

So For How Long Was Jesus On The Cross?

The answer to this question is often 3 hours. But that is incorrect. The following passage from Mark 15:24-37 says: “And they crucified him. Dividing up his clothes, they cast lots to see what each would get. It was the third hour when they crucified him. The written notice of the charge against him read: THE KING OF THE JEWS…At the sixth hour darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour. And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?”—which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”…With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last.”

From this passage it is clear that Jesus was crucified at the third hour, at the sixth hour darkness came over the land, and he died at the ninth hour. So in fact Jesus was on the cross for six hours before he died.

The Gospel of John corroborates the statement of Mark. John refers to Pilate having said “behold your king” to the people of Jerusalem at “the sixth hour”. If John had used the Hebrew method of timekeeping, it would have been noon or midnight. But John used the Roman method. Hence his sixth hour would have been six o’clock in the morning.

It is likely that John used the Roman time method since he was writing from Ephesus (Turkey) after the year AD 70. Besides he was not writing for a Jewish audience nor was he influenced by Hebrew culture.

Therefore it can be concluded that Jesus was on the cross for six hours before he died.

.Picture Credit:
Jesus Before Pilate — http://spreadjesus.org/HW13/Jesus-before-Pilate–Jesus-Questioned-by-Pilate-spreadjesus.org.jpg

 

Joseph of Arimathea Is Imprisoned But Escapes

Jewish Elders Were Angry With Joseph Of Arimathea —

According to the Gospel of Nicodemus the Jewish elders were angry with Joseph of Arimathea. Perhaps they realized that he had somehow tricked them.

Joseph of Arimathea

Fig (1) Joseph of Arimathea

In the same Gospel Joseph of Arimathea is shown to plead his case with the elders: Why are you angry against me because I begged the body of Jesus? Behold, I have put him in my new tomb, wrapping in clean linen; and I have rolled a stone to the door of the tomb. And you have acted not well against the just man, because you have not repented of crucifying him, but also have pierced him with a spear (1).

However the elders were not satisfied with Joseph of Arimathea’s explanation. They imprisoned him, put a seal on his cell door and placed a guard. Nevertheless Joseph of Arimathea escaped and according to some accounts went away Arimathea. It was probably then that he informed James that his brother Jesus did not die on the cross and that he was now in Ephesus together with Mary Magdalene, Juda and his mother Mary. It was from then on that James himself went to live with the community of Essenes and where James began to preach the word of Jesus. According to some sources Joseph of Arimathea eventually relocated to England. In fact during medieval times he was credited with being the founder of British Christianity and the original custodian of the Holy Grail (2).

Why Did The Jewish Elders Arrest Joseph Of Arimathea?

Why did the Jewish elders arrest Joseph of Arimathea? He did only what was required. No one wanted the body of Jesus hanging on a cross on the day of the Passover. Presumably they were upset because they were convinced that Joseph of Arimathea had tricked them. Perhaps they also suspected that Pilate had a role in the trickery.

According historians William of Malmesbury, Maelgwyn of Llandaff and Polydore Vergil Joseph of Arimathea resettles in Glastonbury, England to continue the mission of Jesus. Even the four Church councils of Pisa 1409, Constance 1417, Sienna 1424 and Basle 1434, mention that “the Churches of France and Spain must yield in points of antiquity and precedence to that of Britain as the latter Church was founded by Joseph of Arimathea immediately after the passion of Christ” (3).

References:
(1) Jones, Robert C. (1997). Joseph of Arimathea: Biblical & Legendary Accounts. Retrieved 2013, from http://www.sundayschoolcourses.com/joseph/joseph.pdf

(2) Joseph of Arimathea. (2012). Retrieved 2011, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_of_Arimathea

(3) Trustee of the Gospel. (n.d.). Retrieved 2011, from http://asis.com/users/stag/josephar.html

Picture Credits:
(1) Joseph of Arimathea      http://truthbook.com/urantia-book/paper-190-morontia-appearances-of-jesus

 

An Authentic Account Of Jesus’ Crucifixion Survival

My crucifixion
(Fig 1) My Own Painting of the Crucifixion

Did Jesus Survive The Crucifixion?

Pontius Pilate who was the Roman prefect (governor) of Judea was the one who presided over the trial of Jesus. For one or all of the following reasons Pilate could have ensured that Jesus did not die on the cross.

1) He was not convinced that Jesus had committed a crime so severe as to deserve death by crucifixion.

2) While Pilate was known to be a cruel governor, he was also notorious for being corrupt. According to some accounts he could have taken a hefty bribe from Joseph of Arimathea and spared Jesus’ life.

3) Pilate was also reluctant to condemn Jesus to death because his wife Claudia Procula interceded on behalf of Jesus. He could have spared Jesus’ life acceding to his wife’s pleas.

Another aspect that indicates that there was a conspiracy to spare the life of Jesus was the fact that Jesus’ legs were not broken while the legs of other two crucified along with him were broken. Besides this while other victims of crucifixion lingered on the cross for several hours and in some cases a couple of days before they died, Jesus was declared dead after being on the cross for a mere three hours.

However all this is just conjecture.

But consider the following. There is more substance to these claims that Jesus survived the crucifixion than just speculation.

1) Prophet Of The Children Of Israel

On the peak of a hill near the Dal Lake in Kashmir was a grand temple commonly referred to as the Takhat Sulaiman or the Throne of Solomon. There were four inscriptions on this structure.

‘The mason of this pillar is Bihishti Zargar, Year fifty and four,’ was the first.

The second was ‘Khwaja Rukun, son of Murjan erected this pillar.’

‘At this time Yuz Asaf proclaimed his prophethood. Year fifty and four,’ was the third.

And the fourth was ‘He is Jesus, Prophet of the Children of Israel.’

2) I Am Called A Son Of God

Shalivahana a good and brave ruler had recently defeated attacking hordes of Chinese Parthians, Scythians and Bactrians. One day when Shalivahana went to the Himalayas he saw a man sitting on a mountain. The man’s expression was calm and peaceful. The man was light skinned and wore white garments. Shalivahana was impressed by the holy man. The king asked the man who he was.

Shalivahana

(Fig 2) Shalivahana Chakravarthi

To this the holy man replied ‘I am called a son of God, born of a virgin, minister of the non-believers, relentless in the search of truth.’

“What is your religion?” the king asked the holy man.

‘O great King, I come from a foreign country, where there is no longer truth and where evil knows no bounds. In the land of the non-believers, I appeared as the Messiah. O King, lend your ear to the religion that I brought unto the non-believers. Through justice, truth, meditation and unity of spirit, man will find his way to Issa in the centre of light. God, as firm as the sun, will finally unite the spirit of all wandering beings in himself. Thus, O King, the blissful image of Issa, the giver of happiness, will remain forever in the heart; it is for this that I am called Issa-Masih.’ The holy man replied.

This dialogue between the great king and the holy man is recorded Bhavishya Mahapurana. While the exact dates of the Gospels are only estimates, the exact date of the ninth book of the Bhavishya Mahapurana is unambiguous. It was written by the Sutta in A.D. 115.

3) Jesus Was Alive In A.D. 115

St. Irenaeus of Lyons an Early Church Father, Bishop, and declared Doctor of the Church lived between the years of 125-203 A.D.

saint_irenaeus_oflyons

(Fig 3) St. Irenaeus of Lyons

In A.D. 185 Irenaeus is said to have written the following in his Book II, Chapter 22 of his treatise “Against Heresies”:

On completing His thirtieth year He suffered, being in fact still a young man, and who had by no means attained to advanced age . . . from the fortieth and fiftieth year a man begins to decline towards old age, which our Lord possessed while He still fulfilled the office of a Teacher, even as the Gospel and all the elders testify.

According to Irenaeus Jesus was alive and carrying on his mission at the age of fifty. We are given to understand that at fifty Jesus was not the strong young man he was at the time of his crucifixion. Is it possible that Irenaeus based his statements on a history book from India called the Bhavishya Mahapurana that spoke of a meeting that had happened in A.D. 115?  (1)

References:
1) The Rozabal Line, Ashwin Sanghi

Picture Credits:
(Fig 1) My own painting of the Crucifixion

(Fig 2) Shalivahana Chakravarthi https://www.google.co.in/search?hl=en&site=imghp&tbm=isch&source=hp&biw=1280&bih=637&q=shalivahana+chakravarthi&oq=shalivahana+&gs_l=img.1.0.0l9j0i30.112.4955.0.7873.11.7.0.4.4.0.460.933.5j4-1.6.0….0…1ac.1.64.img..1.10.964.sJ2_Xt_3aeQ#imgrc=BVp8NHOB0f_aEM%3A

(Fig 3) St. Irenaeus of Lyons https://www.google.co.in/search?hl=en&site=imghp&tbm=isch&source=hp&biw=1280&bih=637&q=shalivahana+chakravarthi&oq=shalivahana+&gs_l=img.1.0.0l9j0i30.112.4955.0.7873.11.7.0.4.4.0.460.933.5j4-1.6.0….0…1ac.1.64.img..1.10.964.sJ2_Xt_3aeQ#hl=en&tbm=isch&q=St.+Irenaeus+of+Lyons+&imgrc=7drg9vLNTuqwCM%3A

 

 

Crucifixion of Jesus – Who was responsible?

Cui Bono? Who benefits?

This is a question crime investigators invariably ask. We know that the crucifixion of Jesus was a crime. Who was responsible for the crucifixion of Jesus? Evidently the one who benefitted the most.

Please buy my award winning book of short stories at http://amzn.to/1PWveBs

Judas Iscariot

(Fig 1) Judas Iscariot

Was it Judas Iscariot who was responsible for the death of Jesus?

Judas Iscariot was one of the twelve disciples of Jesus. He is notorious for having betrayed Jesus for a bribe of “thirty pieces of silver” with a kiss – the Kiss of Judas – to the soldiers of the High Priest Caiaphas.

Was thirty pieces of silver a great deal of money?

Probably not. According to Matthew 27:3-10, Judas returned the money to the priests who used it to buy a potter’s field. Judas himself is said to have committed suicide.

According to the Acts of the Apostles Judas used the money to buy a field but is said to have fallen head first and died. This field is known as Akeldama or Field of Blood.

The betrayal by Judas, the most controversial person in the New Testament is said to be the fulfillment of a prophecy. Tradition has it that Judas committed suicide by hanging himself.

Was it Pontius Pilate who was responsible for the death of Jesus?

Pontius Pilate who was the Roman prefect (governor) of Judea, a sub-province of Syria, was the one who presided over the trial of Jesus.

Pontius Pilate 2

(Fig 2) Pontius Pilate

As prefect, Pilate had several responsibilities. He was the head of the Roman military legions. He was the one who sanctioned construction works and controlled the collection of imperial taxes. He also passed judgment in civil and criminal cases.

During his ten-year tenure as prefect, Pilate had several disagreements with his Jewish subjects. According to Jewish historian Josephus is said to have annoyed the Jews on several occasions. It was thought that he would do the same during the trial of Jesus. The Jews protested against Pilate several times.

Not only did Pilate not have adequate concern for Jewish sentiments he was also said to be cruel and corrupt.
.
Pilate spent most of his time in the coastal town of Caesarea, however he came to Jerusalem for significant Jewish festivals.

According to the followers of Jesus, Pilate did not play a crucial role in the trial of Jesus. He was not the one that decided that Jesus should be given the death penalty by crucifixion.

Although Pilate eventually decided that Jesus should be crucified, that decision was reluctant and under duress. Some scholars say that early Christians down-played the role of Pilate in the trial and execution of Jesus in order not to alienate Roman audiences.

It must be noted that Jesus was given the most horrible punishment possible even though the Roman prefect had a choice of options such as flogging, handing the matter back to the Sanhedrin, or to refer the case to Herod Antipas, ruler of Galilee.

Although Pilate was responsible for the final act of his conviction Jesus blames him to a lesser extent, putting the blame squarely on the shoulders of the high priest. John 19:11 records Jesus as saying “You would have no authority over me, unless it had been given you from above; for this reason he who delivered me to you has the greater sin.”

Some have interpreted this to mean that Jesus was blaming the Jews as a whole. However, it is clear that Jesus blamed the chief priest as he referred “to a singular person as “he” or “the one” who was responsible”.

Tradition has it that Pilate who was known to be corrupt took a hefty bribe from Joseph of Arimathea and conspired to ensure that Jesus did not die on the cross.

Pilate was also reluctant to condemn Jesus to death because his wife Claudia Procula interceded on behalf of Jesus.

Pilate eventually relented and condemned Jesus to death because he feared a Jewish backlash.

Was it Caiaphas who was responsible for the crucifixion of Jesus?

Joseph Caiaphas was the Jewish high priest who is said to have organized the plot to kill Jesus. Caiaphas is also said to have headed the Sanhedrin trial of Jesus as the then high priest. According to the most accounts, Caiaphas was the major antagonist of Jesus.

caiaphas

(Fig 3) Joseph Caiaphas

Caiaphas had many important responsibilities, including control of the Temple treasury, managing the Temple police and other personnel and performing religious rituals.

Probably the most important role of Caiaphas was to be the liaison between the Roman rulers and the Jewish people. The Romans expected him to keep the Jewish populace under control.

Caiaphas and his family enjoyed power and many luxuries as long as he was in the good books of the Romans. He feared that all these perquisites would be lost if there was a Jewish uprising.

Caiaphas reasoned that it is better for one man to die –Jesus Christ – rather than many lives be lost as a consequence of Jewish unrest and the Roman reaction to the unrest.

It is Caiaphas and a few other Jewish leaders who were responsible for the crucifixion of Jesus. The Jewish people as a whole were not responsible for the death of Jesus
The Second Vatican Council (1962–1965) of the Roman Catholic Church under Pope Paul VI “repudiated belief in collective Jewish guilt for the crucifixion of Jesus.” It declared that “the charge can be made neither “against all the Jews, without distinction, then alive, nor against the Jews of today”.

To answer the question “Cui Bono”, it was without doubt Joseph Caiaphas and a few other Jewish leaders who stood to gain the most from the crucifixion of Jesus.

Picture Credits:

1) Judas Iscariot
https://www.google.co.in/search?q=Judas+Iscariot&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjD_dOHp67KAhWEGY4KHTiABgEQ_AUIBygB&biw=1280&bih=639#imgrc=SNdGKOdYC63jCM%3A

2) Pontius Pilate
https://www.google.co.in/search?hl=en&site=imghp&tbm=isch&source=hp&biw=1280&bih=639&q=Pontius+Pilate&oq=Pontius+Pilate&gs_l=img.3..0l10.11504.18141.0.20309.14.7.0.7.7.0.109.701.3j4.7.0….0…1ac.1.64.img..0.14.757.aJO3uiteQEU#hl=en&tbm=isch&q=pontius+pilate+passion+of+the+christ&imgrc=S4Qvnirb8c2-DM%3A

3) Joseph Caiaphas
https://www.google.co.in/imgres?imgurl=http://38ccda.medialib.glogster.com/media/fa29dd3fa218b49643c573736a88ff5265451a8d2b050d6c882c551536343b55/caiaphas-picture.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.glogster.com/angelyn/caiaphas-high-priest/g-6ljbk57o1r48jrnuil1dca0&h=424&w=549&tbnid=MZL40n4rBASybM:&tbnh=155&tbnw=200&docid=BHIpFRtbPj4JAM&itg=1&usg=__pen9GSDL-zB9-dxuhyJZ38QbF3Q=

Crucifixion Of Jesus – Were The Jews Responsible?

Crucifixion of Jesus is the sole responsibility of Jews. That was the long-held belief – a belief referred to as the Jewish decide was the cause of much suffering to Jews for 2 millennia.

Matthew 27: 24-25 is probably main reason for the Jewish decide:
When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but that instead an uproar was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. ‘I am innocent of this man’s blood,’ he said. ‘It is your responsibility!’ All the people answered, ‘His blood is on us and on our children!’

This account by Matthew directly linking Jews to the crucifixion of Jesus does not appear in any of the other Gospels.

According to John 18:31, Jesus was taken by the Jewish authorities to Pontius Pilate and sought his execution because they did not have the authority to condemn an accused to death. This reason is in all likelihood not correct as the Jewish authorities were subsequently responsible for “the stoning of Saint Stephen in Acts 7:54 and of James the Just in Antiquities of the Jews and did not require the consent of the governor.”

The reason for blaming the Jews directly and downplaying the role of the Romans was probably because that was a time “when Christianity was struggling to gain acceptance among the then pagan or polytheist Roman world.”

Matthew’s attempt at blaming the Jews as being responsible for the crucifixion of Jesus has at times been described as “redactional fiction” invented by the author. Some think that Matthew’s anti-Jewish polemic was responsible for sowing “the seeds of later Christian antisemitism.”

However the Second Vatican Council (1962–1965) of the Roman Catholic Church under Pope Paul VI “repudiated belief in collective Jewish guilt for the crucifixion of Jesus.” It declared that “the charge can be made neither “against all the Jews, without distinction, then alive, nor against the Jews of today”. (1)

“On November 16, 1998, the Church Council of Evangelical Lutheran Church in America adopted a resolution prepared by its Consultative Panel on Lutheran-Jewish Relations urging any Lutheran church presenting a Passion play to adhere to their Guidelines for Lutheran-Jewish Relations, stating that “the New Testament … must not be used as justification for hostility towards present-day Jews”, and that “blame for the death of Jesus should not be attributed to Judaism or the Jewish people.” (2)

Pope Benedict XVI also repudiates the Jewish decide charge in his 2011 book Jesus of Nazareth, in which he changes the translation of “ochlos” in Matthew to mean the “crowd”, rather than to mean the Jewish people. (3)

What is blatantly unfair is the two thousand year old accusation that the Jews were responsible for the crucifixion of Jesus.

It is important to remember that like Judas Iscariot the Jews and the Romans were only a means to the fulfillment of the prophecies of David and Isaiah.

Probably Jesus himself is the primary cause of his own death. The Gospels tell us that Jesus was only fulfilling Old Testament prophecies, and he himself had predicted his fate. He reconciled himself to what was decreed in heaven and did nothing to change the course of events that eventually lead to his crucifixion. (4)

References:
(1),(2) & (3) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jewish_deicide
(4) Aiuto, Russell. (n.d.). The Trial of Jesus Christ and The Last Supper. Retrieved 2011, from http://www.trutv.com/library/crime/notorious_murders/classics/jesus_trial/10.html

Crucifixion Of Jesus – Bible Accounts And Controversies

Bible Narratives Of The Crucifixion Of Jesus And The Controversies Arising Out Of Them.

Crucifixion Was Foreseen By More Than One Old Testament Prophet

The prophet Zachariah foresaw that the people of Jerusalem would look upon the lord Messiah whom they pierced (Zech. 12:10; cf. John 19:37; Rev. 1:7).

Besides being king, David was also a prophet (Acts 2:30). Almost a thousand years before the crucifixion of Jesus King David had given a clear and prophetic account of the execution (Psalm 22). He had even foretold Jesus’ cry from the cross “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (22:1; cf. Matt. 27:46). David had even explained why God had forsaken his son. God could not look upon sin even when all the sins of the world were placed on the shoulders of his blameless son.

King David’s prediction of the crucifixion of Jesus was so vivid, that he described in detail the crowds mocking him when he was being crucified. (22:6-8, 12-13; cf. Matt. 27:39-44). He prophesied that the bones of Jesus would be out of joint and that His hands and feet would be pierced (22:14-17; cf. John 20:20). He even foretold that lots would be cast for Jesus’ garments by the Roman soldiers (22:18; cf. Matt. 27:35; John 19:24). Significantly David had foretold that not one bone in Jesus’ body would be broken (Ps. 34:20, cf. Ex. 12:46; Num. 9:12; see also John 19:36). This established the tradition that Jesus would be considered the unblemished Passover Lamb that was slain for sinners (I Cor. 5:7).

The prophet Isaiah foretold the reason why Jesus would die on the cross. He wrote “Surely He (the Messiah) has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all” (53:4-6). But did Jesus die on a cross?

A Cross Could Be A Tree And A Tree Could Be A Cross

The Greek word for tree is xulon, (xoo-lon). Literally the word could also refer to “a stick, club, tree, timber or other wooden article of substance, such as a staff, stocks, tree or wood.” On the other hand the Greek word for cross is stauroo (stow-roo), also meaning “to impale or crucify on a stauros (stow-ros) a stake, post set upright as an instrument of capital punishment.” Loosely the two words are sometimes interchangeably used. So a cross could be a tree and a tree could be a cross.

Luke used the word Xulon once in his gospel Luke 23:31 – “they do these things in a green tree”. He uses the same word thrice in the acts:

Acts 5:30 – “whom you murdered by hanging on a tree”

Acts 10:39 – “whom they killed by hanging on a tree”

Acts 13:29 – “they took Him down from the tree and laid Him in a tomb”

All three instances are in specific reference to the crucifixion.

Each of the above statements was made by Simon Peter the apostle.

In Peter 2:24 Peter himself uses the same word: “who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree.” Since Peter uses the word xulon to refer to Jesus “hanging on a tree, taken down from a tree or bore our sins on a tree”, could it be that Jesus was in fact crucified on a tree rather than a Roman cross and that over two millennium the word tree was corrupted to mean cross (1).

Date and time of the crucifixion of Jesus

The year of the crucifixion of Jesus has been in dispute.

Some scholars have claimed that the year of the crucifixion is 30 CE. Others have claimed that the year was 34 CE. Both claims have merits and demerits. The merit has more to do with the time that the Hebrew Nazarene Ecclesia of Israel would require to develop (2).

There is controversy surrounding even the time that Jesus was on the cross before he died. By all accounts he was crucified on a Friday. But it has been claimed that after only three hours on the cross he died. Even the prefect Pontius Pilate was surprised that he should have died so soon. In fact he was so skeptical that he sent a centurion to Golgotha to verify if in fact Jesus was dead. It was only after ascertaining that Jesus was indeed dead that he granted Joseph of Arimathea permission to take down the body of Jesus from the cross. Mark 15:44-45 (3).

According to some accounts Jesus was crucified at 9 am and he died at 3 pm after being on the cross for six hours. A victim dying on the cross even after six hours was also surprising as experience showed that victims lingered much longer. In fact some victims lingered on for days. (4).

The bodies of the victims of crucifixion were removed from the cross only after they had died. So when Jesus and the other two who had been crucified along with him were on the cross for six hours Jewish leaders went to Pilate and “besought Pilate that their legs might be broken” (John 19:31). The Greek equivalent for broken also means to shatter to pieces. In practice the Romans smashed the legs of the victims so that the weight of their body now rested on the wrists that were nailed to the cross. When that happened the victims were unable to breathe and suffocated to death.

After they had smashed the legs of the victims on either side of Jesus, the Roman soldiers turned their attention to Jesus. But finding that he was already dead did not break his legs. This was in fulfillment of the prophecy of King David (5). Psalm 34:20 says explicitly of the crucified Jesus, “He keepeth all his bones; not one of them is broken.” John 19:36 says, “These things were done, that the scripture should be fulfilled, A bone of him shall not be broken.”

The Romans first pierced the side of the victims of crucifixion before they broke their legs. Jewish scholar Alfred Edersheim referred to the piercing of the side as the coup de grace – a stroke of mercy or the death stroke. It is said that the soldiers did both this to expedite the death of the victim. However, Edersheim claims that the soldiers pierced the victim’s side to expedite death and then broke his legs to increase the pain as compensation for the reduced time on the cross (6).

In the case of Jesus as soon as the soldiers pierced his side, they saw that blood and water oozed out of the wound and concluded that Jesus was already dead and decided against breaking his legs. John 19:34 says, “One of the soldiers, with a spear, pierced his side, and immediately came there out blood and water.” The side being pierced is again in fulfillment of the prophecy of Zachariah. Psalm 69 contains prophecies relating to the crucifixion (7).

Who Were The Witnesses To The Crucifixion?

Gospel accounts of the crucifixion of Jesus seem to be based on eyewitness reports. Matthew 26:56 states that all the disciples fled for fear of their lives. Therefore it is reasonable to assume that they stayed away from the site of the crucifixion. According to John 18:15-27, Peter was so terrified that he repeatedly denied knowing Jesus. That being the case, who were the witnesses to the crucifixion?

Jesus was crucified atop a hillock called Golgotha which lay just outside the city walls. This hillock was probably located near one of the gates leading out of Jerusalem. A study of the Gospels tells us who in fact were present at the crucifixion.

According to Matthew 27:55-56 the followers of Jesus who watched the crucifixion from a distance were: “Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee’s sons.” The women were present probably because they knew that they would not be arrested provided they did not interfere with the proceedings. Mark 15:40-41 also states that many female followers of Jesus were witnesses. He specifically names “Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses, and Salome.” The Gospel of Luke merely mentions that some of Jesus’ followers were there but does not mention names. In John the witnesses are specifically named. According to him Jesus’ mother Mary, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clophas (or Cleophas), and Mary Magdalene and “the disciple whom Jesus loved” were all present.

The exact identity of the beloved disciple is a matter of dispute. Some scholars think that he is John the son of Zebedee, one of the twelve disciples of Jesus, and the author of the gospel. However others have disputed this claim and the matter is still to be resolved.

The other Gospels make no mention of the beloved disciple as one of the witnesses to the crucifixion of Jesus and according to them what Jesus spoke from the cross is entirely different from the account by John. It may therefore be construed that John’s source of information regarding the crucifixion is different from the source of the other three. There is no consensus regarding the source of the other three. However it is likely that one or more of the women present provided the evangelists the details.

Based on the accounts in the four Gospels the witnesses to the crucifixion were:

1. Mary Magdalene (cited in Matthew, Mark, and John)

2. Mary the mother of James and Joses (cited in Matthew and Mark)

3. The mother of Zebedee’s sons (mentioned in Matthew)

4. Salome (mentioned in Mark) — Many scholars are of the opinion that this person is the same as the mother of Zebedee’s sons

5. Mary the mother of Jesus (mentioned in John)

6. Mary the wife of Clophas (mentioned in John. She was quite likely the wife of Joseph’s brother)

7. An unnamed sister of Jesus’ mother (mentioned in John) — Scholars think that this is the wife of Clophas

8. The unnamed Beloved Disciple (mentioned by John)

However this list is not without controversy and the controversy is not limited to the identity of the “beloved disciple”. There is also no consensus regarding Mary the mother of James and Joses. Some believe she is the one referred to as the “other Mary”. She is the same person who is said to have accompanied Mary Magdalene to the tomb on the day of the resurrection. It has also been argued that she is the wife of Clopas and perhaps even one of the sisters or a half-sister of Jesus’ mother.

There have been claims that this “other Mary” is none other than the mother of Jesus. If this is so then the three evangelists Matthew, Mark and John would be consistent in saying that Mary the mother of Jesus was present at his crucifixion. The mention that this Mary is the mother of James and Joses lends credence to this claim thus making her the mother of the four brothers of Jesus (Mark 6:3). However if this is indeed the case why were Matthew and Mark not explicit about this instead of referring to her as the “other Mary”? (8).

References:

(1) Mock, Robert D. (1999). Crisis in the Nazarene Ecclesia – The Sanhedrin and Rabbi Shaul are Coming. Retrieved 2011, from http://www.biblesearchers.com/hebrewchurch/primitive/primitive4.shtml

(2) Mock, Robert D. (1999). Crisis in the Nazarene Ecclesia – The Sanhedrin and Rabbi Shaul are Coming. Retrieved 2011, from http://www.biblesearchers.com/hebrewchurch/primitive/primitive4.shtml

(3) New International Version (NIV). (2011). Retrieved 2011, from http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Mark+15%3A44-45&version=NIV;KJV;YLT

(4) The Amazing Burial of Jesus, Part 1, Matthew 27:57-61. (2012). Retrieved 2012, from http://www.gty.org/resources/print/study-guide-chapter/2399

(5) The Resurrection of Jesus Christ, Matthew 27:57–28:15. (n.d.). Retrieved 2011, from http://www.gty.org/resources/study-guides/40-5178/The-Resurrection-of-Jesus-Christ

(6) The Resurrection of Jesus Christ, Matthew 27:57–28:15. (n.d.). Retrieved 2011, from http://www.gty.org/resources/study-guides/40-5178/The-Resurrection-of-Jesus-Christ

(7) The Resurrection of Jesus Christ, Matthew 27:57–28:15. (n.d.). Retrieved 2011, from http://www.gty.org/resources/study-guides/40-5178/The-Resurrection-of-Jesus-Christ

(8) Who Was at the Cross? (n.d.). Retrieved 2011, from http://www.gospel-mysteries.net/witnesses-crucifixion.html