BIBLE TRUTH MINISTRY On The INTERNET
Evangelist Larry Wolfe
OF JESUS CHRIST
The Passion of Christ from a Medical Point of View
by C. Truman Davis, M.D., M.S.
Arizona Medicine Vol. 22, no. 3. March 1965
Several years ago I became interested in the physical aspects of the passion, or suffering, of
Jesus Christ when I read an account of the crucifixion in Jim Bishop's book, The Day Christ
Died. I suddenly realized that I had taken the crucifixion more or less for granted all these years -
that I had grown callous to its horror by a too-easy familiarity with the grim details. It finally
occurred to me that, as a physician, I did not even know the actual immediate cause of Christ's
death. The gospel writers do not help much on this point. Since crucifixion and scourging were
so common during their lifetimes, they undoubtedly considered a detailed description
superfluous. For that reason we have only the concise words of the evangelists: "Pilate, having
scourged Jesus, delivered Him to them to be crucified ... and they crucified Him."
Despite the gospel accounts silence on the details of Christ's crucifixion, many have looked into
this subject in the past. In my personal study of the event from a medical viewpoint, I am
indebted especially to Dr. Pierre Barbet, a French surgeon who did exhaustive historical and
experimental research and wrote extensively on the topic.
An attempt to examine the infinite psychic and spiritual suffering of the Incarnate1 God in
atonement for the sins of fallen man is beyond the scope of this article. However, the
physiological and anatomical aspects of our Lord's passion we can examine in some detail. What
did the body of Jesus of Nazareth actually endure during those hours of torture?
The physical passion of Christ began in Gethsemane. Of the many aspects of His initial suffering,
the one which is of particular physiological interest is the bloody sweat. Interestingly enough, the
physician, St. Luke, is the only evangelist to mention this occurrence. He says, "And being in an
agony, he prayed the longer. And his sweat became as drops of blood, trickling down upon the
ground" (Luke 22:44 KJV).
Every attempt imaginable has been used by modern scholars to explain away the phenomenon of
bloody sweat, apparently under the mistaken impression that it simply does not occur. A great
deal of effort could be saved by consulting the medical literature. Though very rare, the
phenomenon of hematidrosis, or bloody sweat, is well documented. Under great emotional
stress, tiny capillaries in the sweat glands can break, thus mixing blood with sweat. This process
alone could have produced marked weakness and possible shock.
Although Jesus' betrayal and arrest are important portions of the passion story, the next event in
the account which is significant from a medical perspective is His trial before the Sanhedrin and
Caiaphas, the High Priest. Here the first physical trauma was inflicted. A soldier struck Jesus
across the face for remaining silent when questioned by Caiaphas. The palace guards then
blindfolded Him, mockingly taunted Him to identify them as each passed by, spat on Him, and
struck Him in the face.
In the early morning, battered and bruised, dehydrated, and worn out from a sleepless night,
Jesus was taken across Jerusalem to the Praetorium of the Fortress Antonia, the seat of
government of the Procurator of Judea, Pontius Pilate. We are familiar with Pilate's action in
attempting to shift responsibility to Herod Antipas, the Tetrarch of Judea. Jesus apparently
suffered no physical mistreatment at the hands of Herod and was returned to Pilate. It was then,
in response to the outcry of the mob, that Pilate ordered Barabbas released and condemned
Jesus to scourging and crucifixion.
Rev. Larry Wolfe--Evangelist
3015 Pelzer Hwy
Easley, SC 29642
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