V – Duration of Crucifixion
The duration of crucifixion or the period of time for which Jesus remained on the Cross was not long enough to warrant his death on the Cross. Criminals generally took several days to die a lingering death on the cross on account of the loss of blood from the wounds on hands and feet, the physical pain and the pangs of hunger and thirst. The minimum time of death on the cross ranged between 24 and 28 hours, but in some cases it took several days to die on the cross. In such cases it became necessary to break the legs of the criminals so that death may be hastened and consumated.
Let us now probe into the matter of Jesus’s crucifixion. The New Testament tells us that Jesus remained on the cross for a few hours only. The actual duration of time Jesus remained on the cross was not more than three or four hours. Jesus Christ who was in the prime of his youth (33 years) and enjoyed excellent health, could not be expected to have died within so short a time. Especially as his legs were not broken as was done in the case of the two robbers crucified with him on the same day.
It may not be out of place here to note that, according to the Roman calendar the day began with the rising of the sun and ended with its setting. The same custom is in vogue even to this day in Arab countries. According to John (19:14) it was about the sixth hour of the day (Friday) that Pilate spoke last to the Jews vis-a-vis Jesus crucifixion and handed him over to them.
“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, My God, My God why hast thou forsaken me?” (Mark 15:33, 34)
This shows that Jesus retained his consciousness up to the ninth hour of the day and then he fell into a swoon, that the New Testament writers call “giving up the ghost”.
None of the writers were present on the spot to stand as eye-witness. The ‘swoon’ was taken to be ‘death’ and ‘death on the cross’ means an accursed death. Do we not read in the Bible,
“for he that is hanged is accursed of God”. (Deut. 21: 23).
What an audacity on the part of Christians to call a true prophet of God an accursed of God.