John 19:28 - 37
ESV - 28 After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said ( to fulfill the Scripture), "I thirst. 29 A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth.
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As I understand it, the common cause of death in crucifixion was not loss of blood (from the wounds caused by the nails in the wrists and feet, for example), but asphyxiation. In the crucified position (where the condemned person's shoulders were below the level of his hands) the person could inhale, but could not exhale, unless he was able to push himself up (by using his legs to apply pressure to his nailed feet,) to a point where his shoulders were level with his hands. He could then breathe temporarily, until fatigue and/or pain would force him to lower himself again. That is why, after a person had hung on the cross for a period of time, if he had not already died, the soldiers performing the crucifixion would break his legs (as they did with the robbers who were crucified with Jesus (John 19:31-37)), so that he would no longer be able to push himself up in order to breathe, which would cause him to quickly suffocate to death. In Jesus' case, since He was already dead (due to having been weakened by loss of blood from the scourging that He had received, as well as fatigue from the other events that occurred prior to the crucifixion itself), the soldiers did not break His legs, but assured that He was dead by piercing His side with a spear, which perforated the pericardium (the membrane surrounding His heart), and caused accumulated blood and water to flow out from the wound in His side.
This question can be answered from two different perspectives. One would be a speculation regarding the literal cause of death by crucifixion and the other would be how Jesus actually died. Based on Scripture, the cross did not kill Jesus. He completed his work on the cross by saying “It is finished”, and then he purposely “gave up his spirit.” So, Jesus decided when he would die and not the conditions on the cross. (John 19:30) Another interesting aspect of this whole affair is why the Devil would let Jesus die when it was against his interests to do so. You would think that he would have done everything he could to prevent the cross. One option is that the Devil did not know Jesus had the “authority” to both “lay [his life] down”, and “take it up again.” (John 10:17-18) Apparently, the Devil thought that once Jesus was dead, that would be the end of the matter. If God the Father was to abandon Jesus just as He did his human counterpart, Adam, then He couldn’t legally raise him from the dead. What the Devil may not have anticipated was the divinity of Jesus who was God the Son. As such, he had the power to raise himself from the dead. By his actions he became a “second Adam” and died in Adam’s place, thereby paying the price for Adam’s sin. (Genesis 2:16-17) The consequence of Adam’s sin was “condemnation for all men” with Jesus’ death resulting in “justification that brings life for all men.” (Romans 5:18)
Although Jesus endured all possible human suffering through his scourging and beatings, and the human agony caused by crucifixion, crucifixion did not physiologically kill him. Because He was sinless, he was not subject as we are to the Law of Sin and Death. Jesus willingly gave up his life to become the Lamb of God, who took away the sins of the world, uttering as He did so, "It is finished".
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