What killed him?
Ironic that a man, a carpenter, who spent his life learning to fashion chairs, tables, and cradles from rough wood – then died on the same material. The mallet, an instrument he used to pound joints together now hammered spikes into his wrists. The nails, used to connect legs to table tops, fastened his flesh to a wooden beam.
But what killed him?
Was it the loss of blood and the physical cruelty of the Roman cross? Crucifixion caused fever, cramping muscles, tetanus, lacerated veins, crushed tendons, gangrene, and swollen arteries which throbbed increasingly with each passing hour. The victim pushed his quivering legs against a wooden projection, struggling to move upward for each breath. Then the body relaxed and dropped, tearing flesh and muscle from hands and feet. Each breath required another push upward to prevent suffocation. Prior to Jesus’ execution, his back was opened by a whip embedded with pieces of bone and lead. So as he pushed up to breathe, splinters of wood thrust their barbs into his lacerated skin and exposed muscles. For six hours, Jesus endured excruciating physical torture.
Is that what killed him?
Or was it the burden of grief? Isaiah wrote, “Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows….” The shocking force of grief can result in physical and certainly, emotional pain. Jesus understood the devastation of grief. He lost his earthly father Joseph and his friend, Lazarus. John the Baptist, his cousin, was beheaded. Friends, relatives and comrades lay on funeral biers while the Son of God watched. He understood how grief mutilates happiness and changes us forever.
Was it grief that killed him?
Or was it sin? Jesus lived a perfect life, never sinning, never doing wrong. He was perfection, holiness and purity. But on the cross, he became sin. All the lies and deceit of the enemy poured over his soul. The adulterous relationships, the murders and the gossip projected their graphic images. The abuse of children and the rape of women shattered his senses. Pornography, unkind words and every evil thought swept over him like the black tides of a night sea. It was his first experience with sin, the final defeat of his integrity. No wonder he died.
But maybe it was the loneliness that killed him. Jesus depended on his Father for everything. He spent hours talking with God, asking for wisdom and strength. The Father adored the Son, and their communication embodied everything sweet and pure. But when Jesus became sin, he felt as if God left him alone. For one awful moment, Jesus felt the heartache of abandonment.
“Why have you forsaken me?” Jesus cried. Only silence answered. The loneliness of that moment broke the Savior’s heart. He met hell face to face and he died.
Was it the physical cruelty of crucifixion, the emotional distress of grief, the spiritual anguish of sin or the intense loneliness of rejection?
What really killed Jesus?
All of the above.
Why did he do it? Because he didn’t want us to live our lives within the hell of physical pain, emotional torment or spiritual loss. He did it for love.