THE MOMENT OF DEATH

Some  feel  that Jesus Christ either died of  heart  failure  or suffocated on the cross. However, if either  of  these beliefs is true,  how do we reconcile what Jesus said  about his body and blood as he instituted the new rituals and  symbols for the  Passover and how do we reconcile the prophecies that speak of his death?

"And  as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it,  and broke it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body.  And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them,  saying, Drink you all of it; For this is my blood  of  the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of  sins" (Matt.26:26-28 KJV).

Jesus told his disciples that his blood would seal the New  Covenant and give forgiveness for sin.

As for the prophecies that foretell Jesus' death, Isaiah was inspired to record that the death of the Messiah would be  caused by the shedding of his blood. If Jesus is the  Messiah, he would have had to have died by the shedding of his blood:

"Therefore  will  I divide him a portion with the great,  and  he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he has poured out his soul to death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors" (Isa.53:12 KJV).

It is  very important to understand that Jesus  fulfilled  every prophecy concerning the first advent of the Messiah and he died according to the prophesies. If these things were not true, Jesus cannot be the Redeemer and Savior of humanity, and  mankind  is still  lost without hope of salvation and condemned  to death by the law of God.

However,  as the scriptures clearly show, Jesus did  fulfill  the first  coming of the Messiah and the prophetic symbolism  of  the Passover  Lamb  in exacting detail and he did die  by  the shedding of his life-blood.

In order to find out what killed Jesus, all of  the  gospel accounts of his death must be reviewed and the true chronology  of events must be reconstructed. When this is done, it  becomes  apparent that indeed Jesus did die as the prophecies foretold.

The Gospel Accounts

The following is a review of Mark's, Luke's, and John's accounts  of  Christ's death. We will review Matthew's  account in the end  of  the  study, because  within it is a clear explanation of  how Jesus died and the moment of his death.

Mark's Record

"And  when the sixth hour was come,  there was darkness over  the whole  land until the ninth hour.  And at the ninth  hour  Jesus cried with a loud voice,  saying,  Eloi,  Eloi, lama sabachthani?  which is, being interpreted, My God, my God, why have you forsaken me" (Mk.15:33-39 KJV)? See also Psa.22:1-2.

"And  some of them that stood by, when they heard it,  said,  Behold,  he calls Elias.  And one ran and filled a sponge  full  of vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave him to drink, saying, Let alone; let us see whether Elias will come to take him down.  And Jesus  cried  with a loud voice and gave up the spirit.  And  the veil of the temple was torn in two from the top to the bottom" (Mk.15:33-39 KJV).

Luke's Record

"And it was about the sixth hour,  and there was a darkness  over all the earth until the ninth hour [noon to 3 p.m.].  And the sun was  darkened,  and the veil of the temple was rent in the midst.  And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into your hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave  up the spirit" (Lk.23:44-46 KJV).

Both Mark and Luke state that Christ died after giving a loud cry and the veil of the temple was torn from top to bottom.

John's Record

"After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, said, I thirst" (Jn.19:28 KJV).

Because  Jesus  knew that he must fulfill all  of  the  prophetic scriptures concerning his death, he made his thirst known to those watching him.

"Now  there was set a vessel full of vinegar: and they  filled  a sponge  with vinegar, and put it upon hyssop, and put it  to  his mouth.   When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It  is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up  the  spirit" (Jn.19:29-30 KJV). See Psa.69:21.

Mark, Luke, and John did not record all of the events surrounding Jesus' death. And what they did record is not in chronological order. When these events are viewed in their true chronological order, the mystery of when and how Jesus died can be easily solved.

The Legs Broken

"The  Jews therefore,  because it was the preparation,  that  the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the Sabbath day,  (for that Sabbath  day was an high day,) besought Pilate that  their legs might be broken [so they would suffocate and  die  sooner], and  that they might be taken away. Then came the soldiers,  and broke the legs of the first, and of the other which was crucified with him.  But when they came to Jesus, and saw that he was  dead already,  they  broke  not his legs" (Jn.19:31-33 KJV).  See  Ex.12:46; Num.9:12; Psa.34:19-20.

The Piercing of Christ

"But  one  of  the soldiers with a spear pierced  his  side,  and forthwith came there out blood and water" (Jn.19:34 KJV).

"And  I will pour upon the house of David, and upon  the  inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they  shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn  for him, as one mourns for his only son, and shall  be  in bitterness  for him, as one that is in bitterness for his  firstborn" (Zech.12:10 KJV).

The Hebrew word for pierced that is used in this prophecy is 'daqar', which means  'to  stab' and 'to strike through'. The word  'daqar'  is  very important because it confirms Matthew's account, which shows that the  stabbing of Jesus and the subsequent draining of  his  blood is what killed him.

"And he that saw it bare record, and his record is true: . . . that you might believe. For these things were done, that the scripture should be fulfilled, A bone of him shall not be broken" (Jn.19:35-36 KJV).

John  reveals  that the reason the soldier speared Jesus  was  to fulfill  scriptures  concerning Jesus as the  prophetic  Passover lamb, and so that others would believe when they read his  record of  the event.

"And  again  another scripture says, They shall look on  him  who they pierced" (Jn.19:37 KJV). See Psa.22:16-17.

John makes two references to Jesus being pierced. The  first refers  to the piercing of his side, and the second most likely refers to the nailing of his hands and feet. Because of the chronological order of events, it  would seem that Jesus  was already dead before the soldier stabbed him. But is this so, or is there something missing in John's account?

If  we take all of the scriptures reviewed so far at face  value, it  would seem to prove that Christ had died of  something  other than the shedding of his blood. However, this is not the case.

WHAT IS LIFE?

In order to understand what the scriptures refer to when they say that the Messiah will pour out his life, we need to know what the source of life is as God defines it:

Leviticus 17:10-14 KJV

"And  whatsoever man there be of the house of Israel, or  of  the strangers that sojourn among you, that eats any manner of  blood; I  will even set my face against that soul that eats blood,  and will cut  him off from among his people.  For the  life  of  the flesh is the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar  to make an atonement for your souls [or your life] . . . for it is the blood  that makes an atonement for the soul.  Therefore  I  said unto  the children of Israel, No soul of you shall  eat  blood, neither shall any stranger that sojourns among you eat blood. And whatsoever man there be of the children of Israel, or of the strangers  that  sojourn among you,  which hunts and catches  any beast or fowl that may be eaten; he shall even pour out the blood thereof,  and  cover it with dust.   For it is the life  of all flesh; the blood of it is for the life thereof:  therefore I said unto the children of Israel, You shall eat the blood of no manner of flesh: for the life of all flesh is the blood thereof: whosoever eats it shall be cut off."

God  says that the life-force of a physical  life-form resides  within  the blood. In order to prove that Jesus  was actually the prophetic Passover lamb, it must be proven that he  bled  to death.

THE SHEDDING OF BLOOD

Hebrews 9:19-28 KJV

"For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the  people according  to the law, he took the blood of calves and goats,  with water, and scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book, and all the people [making a blood contract], Saying, This is the blood of the testament which God has enjoined unto you.  Moreover he sprinkled likewise with blood both the tabernacle, and all the vessels  of the ministry [setting them apart by the sacrifice of blood]. And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and  without shedding of blood is no remission [no forgiveness]" (vs.19-22).

Christ's Shed Blood

Scriptures in both the Old and New  Testament, which state that, without the shedding of blood there is no  forgiveness  of sin are very clear.  If Jesus died of heart failure due to mental stress, suffocation, or any cause other than the shedding of his life's blood, we have no Savior or forgiveness of sin.

"It  was therefore necessary that the patterns of things  in  the heavens  should be purified with these; but the  heavenly  things themselves with better sacrifices than these" (v23).

Physical  things can be purified with physical things (i.e.,  the blood  of  animals). However, spiritual things must  be  purified with spiritual things. Therefore,  Christ was a better  sacrifice than animals because, besides being a physical man, he was also spiritual (i.e., the Son  of God).

"For  Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear  in  the presence of God for us:  Nor yet that  he should offer himself  often,  as the high priest enters into  the  holy place  every year with blood of others;  For then must  he  often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the  end  of the world [end of this age] has he appeared  to  put away sin by the sacrifice of himself" (vs.24-26).

"And as it is appointed unto men once to die,  but after this the judgment:  So  Christ was once offered to bear the sins of  many; and  unto them that look for him shall he appear the second  time without sin unto salvation" (vs.27-28).

It is very important to note that, without the shedding of  blood, there is no remission or forgiveness of sin, and that all of the sacrifices for the atonement of sin before the advent of Christ were blood sacrifices.

TO COVER OR TO FORGIVE

Although animal sacrifices before Christ's sacrifice were also blood sacrifices, they were not perfect in the eyes of God. Animal sacrifices could only  temporarily  cover a sin, set it aside, and  hide  it from God's  view. Such  sacrifices could never render forgiveness  for sin because they did not equal the value of the  sinner's life.  Therefore, the penalty was not paid; it was merely  delayed for a time.

Hebrews 10:1-19 KJV

"For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not  the very  image of the things, can never with those sacrifices  which they  offered year by year continually make the comers thereto perfect.   For  then would they not have ceased  to  be  offered?  because  that the worshipers once purged should have had no  more conscience  of sins.  But in those sacrifices there is  a remembrance again made of sins every year" (vs.1-3).

"For  it  is not possible that the blood of bulls  and  of  goats  should take away sins" (v4).

These animal sacrifices were meant to be a shadow of things to come; they pointed toward Christ and his  ultimate sacrifice that was able to render forgiveness of sin:

"Wherefore when he [Christ] comes into the world, he says, Sacrifice and offering you would not, but a body have you prepared me:  In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin you have had no pleasure.  Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book  it  is written  of  me,) to do your will, O God.  Above  when  he  said, Sacrifice  and offering and burnt offerings and offering for  sin you would not, neither had pleasure therein; which are offered by the law. Then  said  he,  Lo,  I come to do your will [that will  was  to become the perfect and ultimate sacrifice], O God.  He takes away the first, that he may establish the second" (vs.5-9).

The original agreement with national Israel was set apart and sealed by the blood  of  sacrificial animals.  The new agreement  is  also  set apart and sealed by blood—the blood of Jesus Christ:

"By  the which will we are sanctified [i.e., set  apart]  through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.  And every priest stands daily ministering and offering oftentimes the  same sacrifices, which can never take away sins:  But this man,  after he  had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on  the right hand of God" (vs.10-12). See 2.Cor.5:21.

Jesus Christ is the perfect and final sacrifice for sin.

"From   henceforth  expecting  till  his  enemies  be  made   his footstool.   For  by one offering he has perfected for ever  them that  are sanctified.   Whereof the holy spirit also is a witness to  us: for after that he had said before, This is  the  covenant that  I will make with them after those days, says the  Lord,  I will  put  my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will  I write them" (vs.13-16).

Here, we see a new covenant that is established by a blood  sacrifice.

"And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin"  (vs.17-18).

Once Christ died by offering his blood (his life), there could not be a more  valuable sacrifice made; therefore, those who have  this sacrifice applied as payment for their sins obtain forgiveness.

"Having  therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the  holiest by the blood of Jesus" (v19).

Notice  it  is  by the blood of Jesus that we are  able  to  go before the Father's presence. Christ's blood makes this  possible because  his  life was in his blood, which he freely  gave  as  an offering for our sins. If this were not so, there would still be no access to God except through a physical priesthood and  the sacrificial   worship system. If Christ did not die from the  loss of his blood, all of the scriptures that speak of our being justified   and  having access to the Father  through  his blood would be meaningless.

Ephesians 2:13-18 KJV

"But now in Christ Jesus you who sometimes were far off are  made near by the blood of Christ" (Eph.2:13 KJV).

Here,  Paul speaks to those who are non-Israelites: people  who had no promise before Jesus Christ died and was resurrected.  

"For he is our peace,  who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of partition between us;  Having abolished in his flesh  the  enmity,  even  the law of commandments  contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of two one new man, so making peace"  (vs.14-15).

With  the  giving of his life-blood, Christ opened  the  way  for Israelites  as well as non-Israelites called to salvation  during the  gospel  age to access God the  Father  without  a sacrificial  system of worship, which was necessary under the former agreement with national Israel.

Christ  abolished  the  necessity of animal  sacrifice  for  the forgiveness  of sin and for justification, because his blood  sacrifice was more valuable than any animal life, including human life. His sacrifice was  a perfect sacrifice.   Therefore,  all  laws pertaining  to  animal sacrifice for the forgiveness of sin and justification were of no more value to humanity:

"And  that  he might reconcile both unto God in one body  by  the cross,  having slain the enmity thereby:  And came  and  preached peace  to  you which were afar off, and to them that  were  near. For  through him we both have access by one spirit unto  the  Father" (vs.16-18).

Matthew's Account

In order to understand how and when Jesus died, it is important to review Matthew's account of Jesus' death:

Matthew 27:46-51 KJV

"Now  from  the sixth hour there was darkness over all  the  land unto the ninth hour.  And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?  that is to  say,  My God,  my God, why have you forsaken me?  Some  of  them  that stood  there, when  they heard that, said, This  man  calls  for Elias.  And straightaway one of them ran, and took a sponge,  and filled it  with vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave  him  to drink. The rest said, Let be, let us see whether Elias will come to  save him.  Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud  voice, yielded up the spirit.  And, behold, the veil of the temple  was rent in two from the top to the bottom; and the earth did  quake, and the rocks rent" (vs.45-51).

The King James translation says,  "Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the spirit."

It  is important to note that none of the other  gospel  accounts record  that  Jesus cried "again" after he had been  offered  the vinegar to drink. Why is this important? It is important  because there  is something missing from the King James  translation  of Matthew's  account. When this missing text is inserted  into  its proper  place, the mystery of how and when Jesus died  is  solved. Notice  how this passage reads when properly translated with  the missing text:

Again notice that "Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?  that is to say, My  God,  my God, why have you forsaken me" (KJV)?  "And straightaway one of them ran, and took a sponge, and  filled it  with  vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave him  to drink.  The rest said, Let be, let us see whether Elias will come to save him.  And another took a spear and thrust it into his  side;  and out  came water and blood. Jesus, when he had cried again with  a loud  voice, yielded up the spirit" (vs.48-51). Quoted  from  The Restoration of Original Sacred Name Bible based on the  Rotherham version. See also the Moffet and the Fenton translations.

When  we  review all of what Matthew originally wrote  about  the last few minutes of Jesus' life, it is clear that the  correct chronology  of events shows two distinct cries of agony and  the last  cry was made after the centurion stabbed Jesus  with  his spear, bringing his life to an end  as the blood drained from his body.

It is unfortunate that this last sentence is left out of Matthew's account  by many translators; however, most of the ancient  transcripts and  writings have the last part of this verse with the  sentence above intact.

When  this scripture is properly translated, it conveys the  correct sequence of events and confirms prophecy. A careful  reading of  all  the  scriptures clearly shows that   Jesus   was  offered vinegar several times, and that he cried out twice. The second time he cried out was when the spear was thrust into his side.

SUMMARY

The truth is that Jesus did not die of heart failure, nor did  he suffocate; he died from the loss of blood through the stab  wound inflicted by the centurion.

As  his blood drained out of his body, so did his life (the  life is  in the blood).  All the biblical prophecies tell us that  the Messiah   would die by the shedding of his blood, and  according to the scriptures, this  is exactly what happened.

By B. L. Cocherell, file b5w25