A Glutton and Drunkard for Punishment in Service to God & Humanity – Christ’s Passion
The song Crucifixion Passion is on the album Sick Twisted Loving Jesus by 6 Sucks Sex. It features my reading of a medical account of the sufferings of Jesus, an article titled, “The Passion of Christ from a Medical Point of View” by C. Truman Davis, published in Arizona Medicine, 1965 [Sources], used by permission.
Scroll down for the selected and edited portions of the text used in my song, which is focused on the most brutal and physical aspects of the crucifixion account.
You can listen to my reading, and all the songs on SoundCloud:
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Davis’ account of what the Son of God endured as he was mocked, flogged and crucified is visceral and brutal. It’s hard to hear of any human experiencing this, but knowing and feeling our own complicity in it adds crushing weight to the conscience, relieved by grace.
The reading is set to brutal, beautiful music, as befits the murder of God by humankind due to his goodness, and God’s use of that death as a sacrifice for that and all sin. Fifteen minutes of grinding tortured rythym and musical mayhem, followed by about 3 minutes of ethereal bliss. One of the best songs I’ve made, one I’m proud to include on the 6 Sucks Sex album Sick Twisted Loving Jesus.
In this paper, I shall discuss some of the physical aspects of the passion, or suffering, of Jesus Christ. … The Gospel writers don’t help us very much on this point, because crucifixion and scourging were so common during their lifetime that they undoubtedly considered a detailed description totally superfluous – so we have the concise words of the Evangelists: “Pilate, having scourged Jesus, delivered Him to them to be crucified – – and they crucified Him.”
… The infinite psychic and spiritual suffering of the Incarnate God in atonement for the sins of fallen man I have no competence to discuss; 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?
… After the arrest in the middle of the night, Jesus was brought before the Sanhedrin and Caiaphas, the High Priest; it is here that 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 and mockingly taunted Him to identify them as they each passed by, spat on Him, and struck Him in the face.
In early morning Jesus, battered and bruised, dehydrated, and exhausted from a sleepless night, is taken across Jerusalem to the Praetorium of the Procurator of Judea, Pontius Pilate. You are, of course, familiar with Pilate’s action in attempting to pass 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 cries of the mob, that Pilate ordered Bar-Abbas released and condemned Jesus to scourging and crucifixion.
[A study of the scourging of the Son of God]
… Preparations for the scourging are carried out. The prisoner is stripped of His clothing and His hands tied to a post above His head. … The Roman legionnaire steps forward with the flagrum (or flagellum) in his hand. This is a short whip consisting of several heavy, leather thongs with two small balls of lead attached near the ends of each. The heavy whip is brought down with full force again and again across Jesus’ shoulders, back, and legs. At first the heavy thongs cut through the skin only. Then, as the blows continue, they cut deeper into the subcutaneous tissues, producing first an oozing of blood from the capillaries and veins of the skin, and finally spurting arterial bleeding from vessels in the underlying muscles. The small balls of lead first produce large, deep bruises which are broken open by subsequent blows. Finally the skin of the back is hanging in long ribbons and the entire area is an unrecognizable mass of torn, bleeding tissue. When it is determined by the centurion in charge that the prisoner is near death, the beating is finally stopped.
The half-fainting Jesus is then untied and allowed to slump to the stone pavement, wet with His own blood. The Roman soldiers see a great joke in the provincial Jew claiming to be a King. They throw a robe across His shoulders and place a stick in His hand for a scepter. They still need a crown to make their travesty complete. A small bundle of flexible branches covered with long thorns, (commonly used for firewood) are plaited into the shape of a crown and this pressed into His scalp. Again there is copious bleeding (the scalp being one of the most vascular areas of the body.) After mocking Him and striking Him across the face, the soldiers take the stick from His hand and strike Him across the head, driving the thorns deeper into His scalp. Finally, they tire of their sadistic sport and the robe is torn from His back. This had already become adherent to the clots of blood and serum in the wounds, and its removal, just as in the careless removal of a surgical bandage, causes excruciating pain…. almost as though He were again being whipped —- and the wounds again begin to bleed.
In deference to Jewish custom, the Romans return His garments. The heavy patibulum of the cross is tied across His shoulders, and the procession of the condemned Christ, two thieves and the execution detail of Roman soldiers, headed by a centurion; begin its slow journey along the Via Dolorosa. In spite of His efforts to walk erect, the weight of the heavy wooden beam, together with the shock produced by copious blood loss, is too much. He stumbles and falls. The rough wood of the beam gouges into the lacerated skin and muscles of the shoulders. He tries to rise, but human muscles have been pushed beyond endurance. The centurion, anxious to get on with the crucifixion, selects a stalwart North African onlooker, Simon of Cyrene, to carry the cross. Jesus follows, still bleeding and sweating the cold, clammy sweat of shock. The 650-yard journey from the Fortress Antonia to Golgotha is finally completed. The Prisoner is again stripped of His clothes–except for a loin cloth which is allowed the Jews.
[An examination of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ]
The crucifixion begins. Jesus is offered wine mixed with Myrrh, a mild analgesic mixture. He refuses to drink. Simon is ordered to place the patibulum on the ground and Jesus is quickly thrown backward with His shoulders against the wood. The legionnaire feels for the depression at the front of the wrist. He drives a heavy, square, wrought iron nail through the wrist and deep into the wood. Quickly he moves to the other side and repeats the action, being careful not to pull the arms too tightly, but to allow some flexion and movement. The patibulum is then lifted into place at the top of the stipes and the titulus reading, “Jesus of Nazareth, King of The Jews” is nailed in place.
The left foot is pressed backward against the right foot, and with both feet extended, toes down, a nail is driven through the arch of each, leaving the knees moderately flexed. The Victim is now crucified. As He slowly sags down with more weight on the nails in the wrist, excruciating, fiery pain shoots along the fingers and up the arms to explode in the brain–the nails in the wrist are putting pressure on the median nerves. As He pushes Himself upward to avoid this stretching torment, He places His full weight on the nail through His feet. Again, there is the searing agony of the nail tearing through the nerves between the metatarsal bones of the feet.
At this point, another phenomenon occurs. As the arms fatigue, great waves of cramps sweep over the muscles, knotting them in deep, relentless, throbbing pain. With these cramps comes the inability to push Himself upward. Hanging by His arms, the pectoral muscles are paralyzed and the intercostal muscles are unable to act. Air can be drawn into the lungs, but cannot be exhaled. Jesus fights to raise Himself in order to get one short breath. Finally, carbon dioxide builds up in the lungs and in the blood stream and cramps partially subside. Spasmodically, He is able to push Himself upward to exhale and bring in the life-giving oxygen. It was, undoubtedly during these periods that He uttered the seven short sentences which are recorded.
The first, looking down at the Roman soldiers casting lots for His garments, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” The second, to the penitent thief, “Today thou shalt be with me in Paradise.”
The third, looking down at the terrified, grief-stricken, John, (the beloved Apostle), He said, “Behold thy mother,” and looking to Mary, His mother, “Woman, behold thy son.”
The fourth cry is from the beginning of the 22nd Psalm, [“My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?”]
Hours of this limitless pain, cycles of twisting, joint-rending cramps, intermittent partial asphyxiation, searing pain as tissue is torn from His lacerated back as He moves up and down against the rough timber; then another agony begins. A deep crushing pain deep in the chest as the pericardium slowly fills with serum and begins to compress the heart.
Let us remember again the 22nd Psalm (the 14th verse). [“I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint; my heart is like wax; it is melted away within me.”]
It is now almost over — the loss of tissue fluids has reached a critical level — the compressed heart is struggling to pump heavy, thick sluggish blood into the tissues — the tortured lungs are making a frantic effort to gasp in small gulps of air. The markedly dehydrated tissues send their flood of stimuli to the brain.
Jesus gasps His fifth cry, “I thirst,”
Let us remember another verse from the prophetic 22nd Psalm: [“My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth; you lay me in the dust of death.”]
A sponge soaked in Posca, the cheap, sour wine which is the staple drink of the Roman Legionnaires, is lifted to His lips. He apparently doesn’t take any of the liquid. The body of Jesus is now in extremis, and He can feel the chill of death creeping through His tissues. This realization brings out His sixth words — possibly little more than a tortured whisper. “It is finished.” His mission of atonement has been completed. Finally He can allow His body to die.
With one last surge of strength, He once again presses His torn feet against the nail, straightens His legs, takes a deeper breath, and utters His seventh and last cry, “Father, into thy hands I commit my spirit.”
The rest you know. In order that the Sabbath not be profaned, the Jews asked that the condemned men be killed and removed promptly from the crosses. The common method of ending a crucifixion was by crurefracture, the breaking of the bones of the legs. This prevented the victim from pushing himself upward; the tension could not be relieved from the muscles of the chest, and rapid suffocation occurred. The legs of the two thieves were broken, but when they came to Jesus, they saw that this was unnecessary.
Apparently, to make doubly sure of death, the legionnaire drove his lance through the fifth interspace between the ribs, upward through the pericardium and into the heart. The 34th verse of the 19th chapter of St. John: “And immediately there came out blood and water.”
Thus there was an escape of water fluid from the sac surrounding the heart and blood from the interior of the heart. We, therefore, have the rather conclusive post-mortem evidence that Our Lord died, not the usual crucifixion death by suffocation, but of heart failure due to shock and constriction of the heart by fluid in the pericardium.
Thus we have seen a glimpse of the epitome of evil which man can exhibit toward men— and toward God. This is not a pretty sight and is apt to leave us despondent and depressed. How grateful we can be that we have a sequel: A glimpse of the infinite mercy of God toward man— the miracle of the atonement and the [gift of eternal life!]