The Last 24 Hours Of Christ’s Life


I feel that over a period of time the death and sufferings of Jesus during the last 24 hours can often be taken for granted.  We can even become callous to the horrors of the cross. We can form a kind of distant relationship with those sufferings.

I would like to take you through those final hours to see what happened physically and medically to bring us to a deeper understanding of what he had to endure.

In The Garden

His sufferings while he was in the garden at the foot of the Mount of Olives are often overlooked. Luke the doctor tells us while He prayed, His sweat was like great drops of blood, Luke 22:44. We can understand this because Jesus knew what was in store for him.

It was a common sight to see crucified bodies in Jerusalem. The Romans had taken the cross from the Phoenicians and had improved it, making it a cruel inhumane way to die. The most common form used was the “T” or Tau cross. It had an upright pole permanently fixed in the ground with a notch at the top into which the patibulum or crossbar could be slipped without trouble.

A titulus, or small sign, stating the victim’s crime in different languages was usually nailed to the top of the cross, Matthew 27:11 / Mark 15:26 / Luke 23:38 / John 19:19-20. Crucifixion is the torture and execution of a person by fixation to a cross. Knowing what was in store for him, thus He was under great mental stress as he prayed to the Father.

A condition known as hemosiderosis occurred when the capillaries break down in the sweat glands and there is a small amount of bleeding into the glands. So, we are told, “And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.” Luke 22:44.

Also, when one is under great stress the skin becomes extremely sensitive and fragile. This would have been the condition of his skin the next day when he was flogged by the Romans, Matthew 27:26 / Mark 15:15 / John 19:1.

The Trials

During the six trials He faced during the night and early morning there were many things done that would have exhausted him, John 18:12-14 / Matthew 26:57-68 / Matthew 27:1-2 / Luke 22:63-71 / Jn.18:28-38 / Luke 23:6-12 / John 18:39-19:6.

He was struck with the palm of the hand many times, John 18:22. He was mocked, slandered and blindfolded, Luke 22:63-65. It is said, “Many bear false witness against him.” Mark 14:37, It is said they spit in his face, Mark 14:65.

The soldiers smote him on the head while wearing the crown of thorns, Matthew 27:27-31. By morning Jesus was so battered, bruised, dehydrated and weak from lack of food, liquid and sleep that he would have been completely exhausted.

Pilate had Jesus scourged, John 19:1. Maybe he was thinking that upon seeing his scourged body the Jews would take pity on Jesus and ask for his release. Again, his anger against the Jews may have been taken out on Christ or maybe the refusal of Christ to answer some of his questions made him angry, Mark 14:61.

Roman floggings were known to be terribly brutal. Jewish floggings consisted of thirty-nine lashes, one minus 40 just in case someone might miscount. The Romans had no limit.

The flogging depended more on the mood of the one applying the blows. The Jews were brutal, but the Romans were even worse than the Jews. The hands were tied high to a tree or post leaving his back bare for the flogging.

They used a whip of braided leather thongs with metal balls woven into them. They also had pieces of sharp bone woven into them so that the flesh would be cut. When the whip struck the flesh, the balls would cause deep bruises or contusions, which would break open with further blows. They began at the top of the back and continued the lashes all the way down to the back of the legs.

This produced quivering ribbons of bleeding flesh. Sometimes parts of the spine or ribs were exposed by the deep cuts. Many people would have died from this kind of beating before they could be crucified.

The victim would experience hypovolemic shock. Hypo means low, vol refers to volume, and emic means blood. So hypovolemic shock means the person is suffering the effects of losing a large amount of blood. This would cause four things to happen.

First, the heart races to try and pump blood that isn’t there. Second, the blood pressure drops. Third, the kidneys stop producing urine to maintain what volume is left. Fourth, the person becomes very thirsty as the body craves liquids to replace the lost blood volume.

This is why Jesus said, “I thirst” on the cross, John 19:28. There is no question that Jesus was in a serious to critical condition by the time the flogging had ended.

The crown of thorns that they put on his head may have caused additional bleeding, Matthew 27:19. It is said one will bleed more profusely from a head wound than from other parts of the body.

The Crucifixion

Pilate delivers Jesus to be taken for execution, John 19:16. It is a little unusual that the execution would follow so soon after the sentence. Usually, a few days intervened but for some reason, he must have felt the demands of the Jews were such that he had to do it immediately.

Tradition says the procession went through a street named Via Dolorosa in the present city of Jerusalem. However, the present city is 30 feet above the level of the city in Jesus’ time. One historian says they would take the longest route instead of the shortest route. This was to prolong the agony and suffering of the victim.

Since the Passover Supper, Jesus had had nothing to drink or eat. He had not had any sleep. He was no doubt dehydrated and weak from the loss of so much blood. This explains why he could not carry the cross to Golgotha.

They were required to carry the horizontal beam of the cross to the place of execution. Studies reveal that the vertical post was permanently set in the ground. It had a notch in the top into which the cross beam could fit.

The cross beam would have weighed about 120 pounds. The weight was just too much for the weakened condition of our Lord thus they compelled Simon of Cyrene (North Africa) to carry the cross, Matthew 27:31 / Mark 15:21 / Luke 23:26.

Jesus, still bleeding, sweating and, in all probability, in cold, clammy shock, to the place of Golgotha. Jesus would have been wearing his garments, but crucified naked, Psalm 22:18 /Matthew 27:35.

Arriving at Golgotha the terrible preparations are made for his crucifixion. The word Golgotha means “place of the skull,” Matthew 27:32-33. Just outside the city walls, there is a hill which is shaped like a skull with two caves that look like eyeless sockets. Many believe this is where the crucifixion took place.

Jesus would have been laid down on and his wrists would have been nailed to the cross beam. The Romans used spikes that were five to seven inches long and tapered to a sharp point. They would be driven through the wrists.

This would be a position that would lock the hand, if the nails had been driven through the palms, his weight would have caused the skin to tear, and he would have fallen from the cross.

The wrist was considered a part of the hands in the language of that day. If nailed through the palm of the hands the weight of his body would have pulled them loose from the nails and he would have fallen from the cross.

It is important to understand the nail would have gone through and crushed the median nerve which is the largest nerve going out to the hand. The pain would have been absolutely unbearable. They had to invent a new word to describe it, the word excruciating, which literally means “out of the cross.”

To give you some idea as to how excruciating this was you have at some time hit your funny bone. You know how bad the pain is. Just imagine taking some pliers then clamping down on that nerve twisting it at the same time then you can conceive how excruciating it was when the nails were driven through His wrists.

At this point, Jesus would be hoisted so the crossbar could be attached to the vertical post. The feet are nailed, the left over the right with the same size large crude nail used on his wrists.

The feet are nailed through the arch of the foot, leaving the knees in a flexed position. The title “King of the Jews” is nailed to the top of the cross, Matthew 27:11 / Mark 15:26 / Luke 23:38 / John 19:19-20.

The nerves in his feet would have been crushed which would have been a similar type of pain to that in his wrists.

The Torture Would Now Begin

First, his arms would have immediately been stretched, probably as much as six inches in length and both shoulders would have been dislocated. The arms would have appeared to be in a V shape. This was the fulfilment of the Old Testament prophecy of Psalm 22 which says, ‘My bones are out of joint.’ Psalm 22:14.

With the knees flexed, and toes downward, full pressure of the body is placed on the nerves of the feet. When this can be tolerated no more, the body sags to where the entire body weight is borne by the nails through the forearm.

This produces excruciating pain in the median nerves of the hand until this can be tolerated no more. Once a person is hanging in this vertical position crucifixion is essentially an agonizing slow death by asphyxiation.

Stress on the muscles and diaphragm put the chest into the inhaled position; so that basically, in order to exhale, the Lord would have had to push up on his feet so the tension on the muscles would be eased for a moment. Once raised up he could exhale and then inhale new air. In doing this the nail in his feet would lock up against the tarsal bones.

This process of seesawing up and down further weakens and exhausts the body. At this point, great waves of cramps sweep over the entire body, the arms fatigue, the legs become fatigued. 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, this would go on and on until complete exhaustion would take place where the person would not be able to push up and breathe anymore.

As his breathing would slow down, he would go into what is called respiratory acidosis. The carbon dioxide in the blood is dissolved which leads to an irregular heartbeat. Jesus would have known that he was at the moment of death thus he could say, “Lord, into your hands I commit my spirit.” Luke 23:46. 

Actually, Jesus died of cardiac arrest. In this process, fluid would collect around the heart and the lungs. This explains why both blood and water came from the side of Jesus when the soldier thrust the spear into his side, John 19:34.

John’s description of blood and water flowing from his side is consistent with what modern medicine would expect to have happened, John 19:34.

This would have been a difficult sight to watch. Some of the women, John 19:25 / Luke 23:27 / Luke 23:49, and we know John were standing nearby, John 19:26-27. Either one of the women or maybe one of the soldiers offered Jesus strong wine mixed with myrrh, Mark 15:23.

This would dull the senses and relieve some of the agony. When Jesus tasted it and realized what it was, he would not drink it, Mark 15:23. He would not avoid any of the sufferings and would keep his mental faculties alert to the very end.

Crucifixion was usually carried out by four soldiers assigned to the task. They would remain on duty and watch throughout the ordeal of suffering until the victim died. The four assigned to the Lord divided his garments but gambled for the seamless robe in order not to tear it, Matthew 27:35.

Little did they realize they were fulfilling the prophecy of Psalm 22:18 “They divide my clothes among them and cast lots for my garment.” The sufferings of the Lord did not bother the soldiers. They were callused hardened men who had witnessed many crucifixions. They would only be concerned about who would get his clothing.

We are told that the chief priests, the scribes and the elders mocked him, Matthew 27:41. No matter how wicked a person has been as he dies people usually leave him alone while he dies. Very few of us would stand and ridicule a dying man.

Little did they realize they were fulfilling prophecy.  Psalm 22:8-9 “All who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads. “He trusts in the Lord,” they say, “let the Lord rescue him. Let him deliver him, since he delights in him.” 

 They called on him to come down from the cross offering to believe upon him if he would do so, Matthew 27:40-42.  They hurled all kinds of insults at him, Matthew 27:27-31.

Solomon wrote in Proverbs 24:17-18 “Do not gloat when your enemy falls; when they stumble, do not let your heart rejoice, or the Lord will see and disapprove and turn his wrath away from them.”

Placing the two thieves on each side of him may have been done purposely to add insult to Jesus, Matthew 27:38 / Mark 15:27-32 / Luke 23:32-43. They were not dead as the day was drawing to a close. At sundown, the Sabbath would begin. Fortunately, one of the thieves was penitent, thus he would go on to be with the Lord in Paradise, Luke 23:42-43.

They did want to have to deal with these men on the Sabbath thus they broke their legs, John 19:22-23. They may have used the head of the spear to break their legs. The metal shaft would have struck a blow to their legs breaking them.

Thus, they would no longer be able to push up. It would only be a matter of moments until they would die of suffocation. Hence, why they didn’t need to break any of Jesus’ bones, because He was already dead, Psalm 34:20 / John 19:33.


The accounts of the last 24 hours can be found in Matthew 26:17-27 / Matthew 26:60 / Mark 14:12-15 / Mark 14:47 / Luke 22:1-56 / John 18:1-19 / John 18:42.

Read them often and you will read the greatest love story ever written. Here we learn how great God’s love really is.