“And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, ‘Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?’–which means, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’ When some of those standing near heard this, they said, ‘Listen, he’s calling Elijah.’
One man ran, filled a sponge with wine vinegar, put it on a stick, and offered it to Jesus to drink. ‘Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to take him down,’ he said.
With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last.”
“It was Preparation Day (that is, the day before the Sabbath). So as evening approached, Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent member of the Council, who was himself waiting for the kingdom of God, went boldly to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body.
Pilate was surprised to hear that he was already dead. Summoning the centurion, he asked him if Jesus had already died.” When he learned from the centurion that it was so, he gave the body to Joseph.
Mark 15.34-37; 42-45
Pilate was surprised to learn that Jesus had died so quickly. That was because Roman crucifixion was not merely an execution. It was a slow death by way of torture, filled with excruciating pain, designed by the Romans to extend the amount of time it actually took to die as long as possible. “Historically the process could take anywhere from 3-4 hours to 3-4 days. And there were reports of people living as long as 9 days on a cross.” The Jewish leaders and Pilate were both expecting it to take days for Jesus to die as was typical. That’s why the Jewish leaders petitioned Pilate to have his legs broken (John 19.31). Because when hung on a cross for crucifixion, “Modern forensic research shows that a person whose hands are bound above his head has severe trouble breathing.” The results being that:
“The muscles that run between the ribs are basically fully extended which means the ribs are fully expanded, which means the chest is essentially passively full of air. In order to get the stale air and the carbon dioxide and all the waste gases out, the victim would actually have to actively lift themselves up to get the pressure off of these muscles and allow themselves to exhale.”
Robert M. Morris, MD
ER Chief, Stanford medical center