Jesus/Godhead

Anticipation, uncertainty, wonderment, fear, excitement, doubt — but it is TRUE! The Tomb is empty and the angels announce He is not among the dead. He has risen!

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Do the Gospels Conflict?
How Long was Jesus on the Cross?

(See also Was Jesus Crucified Naked? and How Long Was Jesus in the Tomb?)

The question intrigued me sufficiently enough that I spent the best part of a day working on it. On the surface there seems to be a contradiction in the Gospels, mentioning different times for the crucifixion.

Maybe the Apostles forgot to check their watches!

Mark says Jesus was crucified at the 3rd hour and John tells us the crucifixion took place after the 6th hour. So, what are we to make of this seeming contradiction? And how long was he actually hanging on the cross?

TRAV Crucifix

For the whole story, click here.

By the way, isn’t this a COOL picture? I took it several years ago at the Cross in the Woods Shrine in Indian River Michigan. It is the largest crucifix in the world and right across the street from my wife’s mom’s summer home.

STAY TUNED TOMORROW FOR “HOW LONG WAS JESUS IN THE TOMB?”

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Was Jesus Crucified Naked? (Updated 4/13/17)

by Steve Ray on April 12, 2017

A gentleman heard me on Relevant Radio earlier. I had mentioned on the air that one of the great humiliations of a crucifixion was that a man was crucified naked. This thoughtful gentleman wrote to challenge my comments. Below is his e-mail and my response.

Dear Mr. Ray,

Please correct your description of the Passion. You have said that Christ was crucified naked on the cross because it was the Roman way of executing condemned prisoners.

Realize that in Christ’s case the Romans were following instructions of the Jews—Pilate did not want to crucify Jesus, thus he finally gave orders that the soldiers do as the Jews requested. Thus the gospel explicitly describes how the Jews requested the legs of the condemned be broken so that their dead bodies would be removed before the Passover, and this was done per their request.

Nudity in 1st century Jewish culture brought shame to the beholder, and it was the Jews that had Jesus crucified—thus Jesus would have had a cloth to cever his loins, which is consistent with the visions of various mystics of the Church. Otherwise, the gospels would have mentioned the Jewish displeasure, much like it does with their demand to remove the sign above Christ’s head, had Pilate ordered Jesus to be stripped completely naked against the wishes of the Temple leaders.

God bless, A Friend

Dear Friend:

Thanks for writing– and for your thoughtful comments. I always appreciate feedback especially from studious listeners. Please take my comments below in the same irenic tone in which you kindly wrote to me.

However, I disagree with your assessment. There is no reason to believe that Jesus was crucified according to Jewish “specifications.” The Romans had little regard for the Jews, their laws and their sensibilities (e.g., Acts 18:12-17).

The Jews were very scandalized by the sign put on the Cross “Jesus, King of the Jews.” Yet when the Jews specifically went back to Pilate with the demand it be reworded, the Romans refused to change it or take it down even though that was probably more offensive to the Jews than the nakedness of a convicted criminal. Jews were also limited in the number of lashes one could receive, but they certainly paid no heed to that Jewish concern either. They were there to uphold Roman law, not cater to Jewish religious sentiments.

You say the Romans were instructed to do what the Jews requested, but that had only to do with Pilate’s willingness to grant the Jews request to have Jesus crucified instead of just flogged. It did not mean that the Romans wrote down a list of the Jewish sensibilities to insure that none of them were upset. The Romans were to do what the Jews requested only, presumably, in terms of their willingness to allow Jesus to be crucified even though Pilate found him innocent.

Even among the Jewish rabbis there was allowance for nakedness during execution. The Mishnah (Jewish tradition from earlier centuries compiled around 200 AD) records three opinions held among the Jews, saying,

A [When] he was four cubits from the place of stoning, they remove his clothes.
B “In the case of a man, they cover him up in front, and in the case of a woman, they cover her up in front and behind,” the words of R. Judah.
C And sages say, “A man is stoned naked, but a woman is not stoned naked.”

Here we have the recording of three Jewish traditions. Two out of three claim that a man was executed naked even among his own Jewish countrymen. If even the Jews stripped their own naked according to two out of three of their traditions, why would we think the Romans would practice more scruples than the Jews?

I would agree he was robed on the Via Cruses, but even Scripture says they divided his garments but for the outer garments they cast lots. Soldiers by law were given the right to confiscate the clothing of the convicted felon. They took Jesus’ presumably like they did all the others. There is NO indication that he retained covering, rather the soldiers divided them – outer and under clothes. The Scriptures tell us this.

One good historical commentary says, “The replacement of Jesus’ own clothes for the walk to Golgotha was probably a concession to Jewish scruples about public nakedness (Jub. 3:30–31; cf. Gen 9:20–27). Crucifixion was normally naked, and in v. 35 Jesus’ clothes will again have been removed; m. Sanh. 6:3 specifies that the clothes should be removed only at the place of execution, not on the way there.”

An excellent commentary on the details of the life of Christ relays, “Even though Jesus has been flogged, Mark/Matt have Jesus dressed again before he sets out to the place of crucifixion. Normally the criminal, carrying the lateral beam of the cross behind his neck with his arms fastened to it, would go naked to the place of crucifixion, being scourged as he went. We know this from passing references in Dionysius of Halicarnassus (Roman Antiquities 7.69.2) and Valerius Maximus (Facta 1.7.4). Indeed, Josephus (Ant. 19.4.5; #270) reports that even Roman nobles involved in the assassination of Gaius Caligula had their clothes removed before being taken to the place of execution.

“In having the final disrobing of Jesus only at the place of execution (Mark 15:24 and par.), the evangelist may reflect a local concession that the Romans made to the Jewish abhorrence of public nudity. Josephus reports that the Roman tribune Celer, who was executed in Jerusalem by imperial order, was dragged across the whole city as a public spectacle before being beheaded; but there is no mention of his being disrobed (War 2.12.7; #246; Ant. 20.6.3; #136).”

Another commentator says, “To distribute the garments of Christ among the soldiers, the clothes had to be removed from Christ. Thus, Christ was crucified naked. The suffering was great at the crucifixion but so was the shame. No artist dares to picture Christ as naked—they put a loin cloth around Him for modesty. But Scripture indicates He was naked.”

Another says, “[T]he normal undergarment was either a tunic or a loincloth, and Jesus’ tunic was taken from him (v. 23; Brown 1970:902), it is perhaps more likely he was naked. Early Christian tradition is divided on the subject (cf. Brown 1994:2:953).”

Catholic Monk and prolific writer Thomas A Kempis wrote a meditative prayer on the death of Christ including the words, “Of the Crucifixion, naked, of the Lord Jesus; and of His hanging for many long hours aloft upon the Cross.”

Typical Crucifixion scene

“[Bishop St.] Melito, the second century AD bishop of Sardis, wrote in his sermon on the passion of Christ: ‘The Sovereign has been made unrecognizable by his naked body, and is not even allowed a garment to keep him from view.’  Because people of his day had witnessed crucifixions, Melito knew that the victims were executed without clothing” (Lexham Bible Dictionary).

In my opinion and others, there is NO reason to believe that the Romans covered Jesus’ privates with a loin cloth. In fact, it would be unreasonable to think they would do this since crucifixion was to be the final humiliation and degradation. They had very little respect for Jewish sensibilities in general. Even if they made a concession to the Jews by covering him as he processed through the streets, they would have removed his clothes at the site of the execution, even as the Jews did with their own executions. Roman custom gave the soldiers the right to appropriate for themselves all the clothes of the convict – kind of as a bonus.

And if you suggest they crucified Jesus with his loins covered, do you suggest that ALL executions were done with private parts covered? Were the thieves on his right and left also covered? I don’t think they treated Jesus differently than any other criminals crucified.

You mention various Mystics who have “revealed” that Jesus was covered on the cross. I suspect this has to do with pious puritanism more than historical reality. I often enjoy the writings of mystics and are benefited from them, but I don’t have a lot of confidence in their often contradicting visions, especially when it contradicts historical realities and Scripture.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church refers to these revelations of Mystics in a category called “private revelation.” Commenting on private revelation the Church teaches, “Throughout the ages, there have been so-called “private” revelations, some of which have been recognized by the authority of the Church. They do not belong, however, to the deposit of faith. It is not their role to improve or complete Christ’s definitive Revelation, but to help live more fully by it in a certain period of history. Guided by the magisterium of the Church, the sensus fidelium knows how to discern and welcome in these revelations whatever constitutes an authentic call of Christ or his saints to the Church. (no. 67)

Rembrandt’s self-portrait in Dutch painters beret. HE raised Christ on the cross and we did too!

Just an interesting parallel to ponder: The first Adam was naked and due to sin had to be clothed; the last Adam was clothed but to redeem was stripped naked. The first brought death at the tree of life, the last brought life at the tree of death.

In this regard The Fathers of the Church loved to play with the concept of the naked Christ. In that regard I suggest, Jesus born naked in a cave provided by a man named Joseph and he was then wrapped in swaddling clothes. In his death he was stripped of his clothes and later covered by a shroud and placed in a cave provided by another man named Joseph.

Lastly, I agree that this goes contrary to all our Catholic sentiments of decency and modesty which is why artists always portray, and properly so, Jesus in a loin covering. But real life is not controlled by polite conventions especially in pagan Rome.

My friend, may you and those you love have a wonderful Easter and may the joy of our risen Lord Jesus shine in your heart for all of eternity. Thanks for your thoughtful e-mail.

  1. A related interesting article: Nudus Nudum Christum Sequi: On Christ’s Genitalia
  2. Naked Crucifix attributed to Michelangelo in Florence from 1492

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Steve’s Talks: Stations of the Cross & Pain of the Crucifixion

April 8, 2017

A great way to celebrate Lent and to enhance your prayers. Check it out and buy it HERE. It is available in both CD disk or MP3 download (MP3 available very soon). Learn the origins and history of the Stations, what led up to Christ’s Condemnation to Death. Steve then goes through each Station based […]

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Was Jesus Nice?

February 20, 2017

I wish I had a dollar for every time someone has said to me. “That was not very Christ-like.” This response usually comes after being honest to the point of making someone upset.  The implication is that Jesus was a cuddly little nice guy who was always smiling, always accepting with kind words – in […]

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“You are Peter” in Jesus’ language of Aramaic

December 1, 2016

In Caesarea Philippi, the site where Jesus renamed Simon as “Peter” or Kepha (Matt 16:13-20), it is interesting to hear what Jesus REALLY said. I thought you would find this interesting. So, what did it sound like at Caesarea Philippi when Jesus renamed Simon and made him the rock of the Church: “And I tell […]

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How Well Do You Know Jesus and His Land? Multiple Choice Questions.

August 20, 2016

Here is a fun quiz to test your knowledge. How much do you know about Jesus and his Land? Answers are below in the Comments but DON’T CHEAT until you give it a hero’s try! 1. We have no record of Jesus visiting which place? a. The Phoenician Coast b. Tiberias c. Egypt d. Nain 2. […]

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How Big Was Jesus in Mary’s Womb at the Visitation – and what could he do?

July 19, 2016

“How big was baby Jesus in Mary’s womb when Mary visited Elizabeth?” That is the question I asked myself while visiting the Church of the Visitation in Israel. What I learned was quite revolutionary and amazing. This is one of the best pro-life arguments from Scripture and one I’ve not heard discussed before. It also […]

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Jesus Was A Jew – So What is That To You?

June 20, 2016

 Jesus was a Jew. This fact may escape the casual reader of the New Testament, but it is crucial to understanding Jesus and the book written about him—the Bible. Unhappily, in 21st century America we are far removed from the land of Israel and the ancient culture and religion of Jesus and his Jewish ancestors.  […]

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Meaning of Sacred and Immaculate Hearts – Feast Days are Upon Us!

June 2, 2016

A non-Christian friend found two paintings at an art show and asked me, “What in the world are these? They seem to have pagan elements. What do they have to do with Jesus and Mary?” Here is my explanation. If you readers have anything to add, please post it in the Comments below. Thanks. Thanks. […]

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Did Jesus Ever Run?

May 17, 2016

I posted this awhile ago, but thought it fun to post again. Though my running days are over (Doctors have told me I ran to much and my knees are shot), I still do a lot of fast walking and even have a bike in Jerusalem. But it is good to remember the days I […]

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New Movie “The Young Messiah” – Did the Boy Jesus Know Who He Was?

March 15, 2016

Dave Armstrong wrote an insightful review of this new film and some problematic theological issues. Here is his review: I wanted to let you know about two recent posts of mine, concerning the new film, The Young Messiah. Based on what I have seen about how it presents Jesus’ knowledge (in other reviews), I’ve concluded […]

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Bravo Franklin Graham! “Islam and Christianity Clearly Do NOT Worship the Same God!”

January 26, 2016

I applaud Graham for being “politically incorrect” in stating what seems to be the obvious. The two conceptions of God are drastically at odds. The few similarities are far overshadowed by the drastic differences. The Judeo-Christian God is viewed as a “father” whereas the Muslim god is primarily “master”. The Christian God is “love, personal, […]

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Temple Sizes Compared – bigger than a football field

January 7, 2016

The 1) Tabernacle in the wilderness, the 2) Temple of Solomon, 3) Herod’s Temple at the time of Christ and 4) Ezekiel’s Temple are compared. The football field looks insignificant compared to the temples (in more than one way :-) The Muslim Shrine that now sits atop Temple Mount is built over the rock where […]

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Is there Evidence for Jesus outside the Bible?

January 4, 2016

Some people think Jesus is a mythical figure like Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny. Others think Jesus might be historical but only mentioned in the Bible is the only source of information on the existence of Jesus. They question whether Jesus really existed as a real historical figure. Is the Bible the only source […]

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Mary Saw Mercy… so real and visible and close it may have splashed on her face.

December 9, 2015

Mary knew mercy. Mary saw mercy. The mercy was so real and visible and close it may have splashed on her face. Sister Faustina’s Divine Mercy shows the blood and water springing from the side of Christ, the fountain of mercy. Mary stood at the foot of the Cross where the blood and water emerged […]

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