We’re in the season leading up to “Easter” or the time of the year many people call Lent. This 40-day period is marked by Catholics and some Protestants and Orthodox Christians for “…penance, reflection, and fasting which prepares us for Christ’s Resurrection.”
As an evangelical or born again Christian, I do not “celebrate” the Lenten season as some people prefer to do, nor does my local fellowship. That being said, I believe it is important for Christians to bring to mind often what Jesus has done for us and if the Lenten season helps you to focus on Christ, His passion and His redemption, then by all means do so.
My personal reflection, however, will be just that: times I spend with Jesus in quiet solitude, reflecting on His life on earth, His passion and resurrection and the life to come. I’ve also secured a copy of “Died He For Me,” a book written by Dr. Mark A. Marinella, who takes a look at Jesus’ crucifixion from a physician’s perspective. Indeed, this book subtitled, “A Physician’s View of the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ,” does just that and makes for an excellent, if not provocative, read as we each bring to mind Christ’s passion.
Dr. Marinella is board certified in Internal Medicine and Medical Oncology and practices in Dayton, Ohio. Included among his clinical interests are “breast cancer, lymphoma, leukemia, critical care hematology and oncology, as well as nutrition support for hospitalized cancer patients.” His expertise has given him the understanding needed to address the hours leading up to Jesus crucifixion and what the human body goes through as it is pulverized in this manner from a medical point of view.
Before I move on, allow me to briefly address some of the criticisms people have offered up against books or movies which have attempted to graphically convey what Jesus went through as He took upon Himself our sins. Certainly, we don’t need anything beyond the Bible to help us understand the gravity of sin and the suffering that Jesus went through. However, having that information can only benefit the Christian, who gains an understanding of a heinous form of capital punishment, one that God took upon Himself to set us free from sin and damnation.
Marinella offers the reader an appropriate synopsis of what life was like in Jesus’ time to explain the political landscape and just how much the Romans and Jews hated each other. By the time Jesus was led to Golgotha, crucifixion was widely practiced by the Romans — many Jews were crucified during the earliest “Jewish Wars” which occurred about the time of the birth of Christ and in 70 A.D. when the temple was destroyed.
The Jewish historian Flavius Josephus has noted one account in 4 B.C. where approximately 2,000 Jews were crucified in a Roman bid to stamp out rebellion. Some historians have theorized that Golgotha, which means “place of the skull,” got that name because of the skull-like appearance of the hill where Jesus was crucified. It may also point to the skulls of other victims which were scattered about (see notes for Matthew 27:33). In any case, by the time Jesus was crucified, the Romans had “perfected” this cruel form of punishment.
The first three chapters of “Died He For Me” give way to four chapters where Marinella shares in explicit detail what Jesus went through as He was given up to the Romans, scourged, His walk to Calvary, crucifixion and, finally, His death. And this is where a doctor’s perspective can help the reader understand the nearly impossible physical and psychological torment Jesus bore as he willingly went to the cross for our sins.
Indeed, we know that Jesus was physically tired, having stayed up the entire night before praying and was in great anguish. Though he foreknew what He was to face, Jesus was still very much a man — imagine the fatigue and the deep sense of betrayal He encountered as the purple robe was put on his body and as the crown of thorns were driven into His skull.
I won’t spoil the book for you, but Marinella describes in great detail the tools of suffering used to torture Jesus, an event which dropped His blood pressure and placed Him in a state of near bodily shock. This information is important to know because before He even got to the cross, Jesus was near death. The so-called “swoon” theory can be easily debunked — the pummeling Christ went through sometimes killed people before they got to Golgotha; He was in no condition to survive His injuries, let alone free Himself from the tomb and make His escape as some skeptics assert.
Marinella taps His medical expertise to describe in great detail the trauma Jesus suffered. From exposure to bacteria found in human spittle to tetanus and other forms of infection. Profound blood loss, tissue damage, ripped cartilage, elevated body temperature and kidney damage were just some of the traumas Jesus willingly took upon Himself as He paid for mankind’s sin and bore the wrath of God.
There are no words that can be said to explain the gravity of what Jesus did for you and me. Only by the revelation of the Holy Spirit can any of us appreciate Jesus and His finished work upon the cross.
To that end, I’ll dispense with further details about Jesus’ suffering. This book can make for a wonderful companion study as you reflect on Jesus’s passion, betrayal, scourging, crucifixion and resurrection. Yes, even through it all Jesus stood firm, doing what it took to purchase our lives, making the only payment for sin that God could accept to permanently wash away our sins. Hallelujah!
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