The Causes of Jesus’ Death in the Light of the Holy Bible

When did Jesus die, and how did it happen? Crucifixion was an ancient method of execution that caused a slow, excruciating death without directly damaging any vital organs. Crucifixion was the cause of Jesus’ death. Medical professionals use the term “mechanism of death” to describe the physiological process leading to death, but it is not known exactly how this occurs. This has left medical professionals unable to agree on the precise physiological mechanism that ultimately resulted in his death. Cardiac rupture, suffocation, and shock have all been proposed as potential causes of Jesus’ death. Some advocate for a “swoon theory” that Jesus simply did not die. If any of these statements can explain how Jesus died, which one does it sound like the most?

Swoon Theory

The Romans’ harshest form of execution was crucifixion, which they called the summum supplicium (Latin for “the supreme penalty”). Crucifixion was reserved for capital criminals, political insurgents, and runaway slaves by the Romans because it was deemed obscene. Crucifixion was extremely unusual for Roman citizens. Due to the fact that crucifixion victims’ bodies were often left on the cross for scavenging animals, archaeological finds of crucifixion victims are extremely rare. Burial requests were honored, but authorities needed proof of death to release the body. It would be suicide for the soldiers in charge to let a criminal on death row survive crucifixion. This rules out the possibility of Jesus’ miraculous survival.

jesus cause of death
jesus cause of death

According to medical experts, extreme emotional stress is not indicative of cardiac rupture. Cardiac rupture is a possible complication of a heart attack, but doctors usually don’t diagnose it until two or three days later. Rarely, heart attacks can lead to a hematoma in the cardiac muscle, leading to a more rapid rupture of the heart. However, stress alone cannot solely cause a massive heart attack. As an added point, it’s highly unlikely that a young, healthy man like Jesus would have died of a heart attack. So, the idea that Jesus’ heart broke because of his emotional pain has lost a lot of support.

Stab Wounds

Did Jesus’ heart burst from the spear’s impact? Since it is generally accepted that dead bodies do not bleed, some have reasoned that the blood that was gushing from Jesus’ side (John 19:34) must have meant that he was still alive at the time. However, this is not logically necessary. A large clot in the heart may be unstable and reliquefy shortly after death. It’s worth noting that the soldiers were sure Jesus was dead before they stabbed him in the side with a spear (John 19:33). Crucifixion squad members of the Roman army were reliable experts in pronouncing death. The safety of themselves and their families depended on their success. Before the spear even entered his chest, it’s safe to say that Jesus was already dead.


Surgeons R. W. Hynek of the Czech Republic and A. Le Bec of France observed torture cases in which victims appeared to suffocate when suspended with their arms straight overhead and their feet unsupported. They made the connection between Jesus’ death and suffocation and made the suggestion that this occurred in the early twentieth century. In his book A Doctor at Calvary, the French surgeon Pierre Barbet argued that Jesus likely died of suffocation. According to Barbet, the bifurcation of the blood flow on the arms depicted in the Shroud of Turin image proves that Jesus had to raise his head to catch his breath.

At the Last Supper, a Passover Seder, Jesus foretold his own death. There, he declared, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood” as he ceremonially raised the Cup of Blessing (also known as the Cup of Redemption) (Luke 22:20). Jesus was alluding to the prophet Jeremiah’s promise of a new covenant in which God would convert the hearts of his people and wipe away their sins (Jeremiah 31:31–34). The crucifixion of Jesus marked the beginning of a new covenant between God and humanity. The way God interacts with humans has changed. All who would believe were offered the chance at forgiveness and a new spiritual beginning.

For what practical purpose is it important to determine how Jesus died? Jesus made what seemed to be a medical proclamation at the Last Supper. He said, “Take this; it is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins,” as he held up the cup (Matthew 26:28). As far as we can tell, Jesus was implying that he would die from exsanguination (blood loss), most likely as a result of traumatic hemorrhagic shock.

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