From the Hills: Inside of the Cave

By Sylvia Peterson
Posted 4/21/22

Jesus’ biggest miracle was God’s response to humanity’s greatest injustice — and no one even saw it happen. 

In his bestseller, “The Case for Christ,” Lee …

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From the Hills: Inside of the Cave

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Jesus’ biggest miracle was God’s response to humanity’s greatest injustice — and no one even saw it happen. 

In his bestseller, “The Case for Christ,” Lee Strobel published the findings of his personal search to disprove Jesus as the Son of God. There were many unconvincing answers until Strobel met with Dr. Alexander Metherell, an expert on Roman crucifixion at the University of California. 

They talked about what Jesus endured after the trial that convicted him for being Christ the King, the Messianic Son of God. 

“Tell me,” Strobel asked. “What was the flogging like?”

“Roman floggings were known to be terribly brutal. They usually consisted of 39 lashes. The soldier would use a whip of braided leather thongs with metal balls woven into them. When the whip would strike the flesh, these balls caused deep bruises or contusions, which would break open with further blows. And the whip had pieces of sharp bone as well, which would cut the flesh severely.

“A third-century historian, Eusebius, described a flogging by saying that the sufferer’s veins were laid bare, and the very muscles, sinews, and bowels of the victim were open to exposure.

“Then Jesus was forced to carry his own cross uphill to Calvary. His body was in critical condition even before the nails were driven through his hands and feet.” 

Strobel asked: “What happened when he arrived at the site of the Crucifixion?” 

Metherell continued, “The Romans used spikes that were five to seven inches long and tapered to a sharp point. They were driven into the wrists. This was a solid position that would hold his arms firmly to the cross. The nail would go through the place where the median nerve runs. The pain was absolutely unbearable.

“Then nails were driven through Jesus’ feet, again crushing the nerves to cause the maximum amount of pain. When the cross was raised, both shoulders would have instantly dislocated. … Once a person is hanging in the vertical position,” Metherell explained, “crucifixion is essentially an agonizingly slow death by asphyxiation.”

Scripture reports that a Roman soldier pierced Jesus’ side with a spear. Strobel asked, “What would Jesus’ condition have been (at that time)?”

“There is absolutely no doubt that Jesus was already dead.” 



Strobel had another question for the archeological scientist. “These people (the Romans) were very primitive in terms of their understanding of medicine and anatomy and so forth — how do we know they weren’t just mistaken when they declared Jesus was no longer living?”

Metherell was decisive. “I’ll grant you that these soldiers didn’t go to medical school. But remember, they were experts in killing people — that was their job, and they did it very well. Besides, if a prisoner somehow escaped, the responsible soldiers would be put to death, so they had a huge incentive to assure that every victim was dead when he was removed from the cross.” 

Strobel had just one final question: “Is there any possible way — any possible way — that Jesus could have survived this?”

Metherell shook his head and pointed his finger for emphasis. “Absolutely not.” (Pages 261-269)

Scripture tells us that Jesus’ mutilated body was extracted from the cross, wrapped in linens, and placed in a cave belonging to Joseph of Arimathea. 

That’s where it happened. 

Inside the silent darkness of his burial chamber, Jesus’ lungs took a breath of air. Then another. And then another.  The breath of God brought the Son of God and the Son of Man together one last time. Life returned to his lifeless body.

No one was there to see it, but mankind’s eternal destiny changed forever.  

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Sylvia Peterson is former co-pastor for Bald Hill Community Church and the author of “The Red Door: Where Hurt and Holiness Collide,” which can be purchased at Amazon or Barnes & Noble. She and her husband are chaplains for the Bald Hills Fire Department. You can email her at sylviap7@comcast.net.

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