Mary Magdalene

Introduction   Mark 16:9


We hear the deeds of the Apostles and many other men that follow God's plan for their life. What we need to look at is the love,  that's in  a forgiven soul that has found the savor. Much is said about the apostles conversion,  as we look at Mary, we see what boldness that Jesus amazing grace brings to people with much sin forgiven. Mary is one of the bravest follower of Jesus Christ mentioned in the bible. She endured not being mindful for her own life.



1.      Mary Forgiven  (John 8:3-11)

·        The first encounter that Jesus had with Mary is her sin brought before him, a demon possessed whore.

·        The religious sect brought her before Jesus, to tempt him into making judgment

·        Jesus reply is to forgive her of sins, breaking the Mosaic law, ( Isaiah 1:18-20)

  i.      Mary was the recipient of the New Covenant with God, to be forgiven of all sins (Lk 5:29-32)

ii.      What a move people seek the worst but Jesus saw a sinner that needed saving, Mary was lost.

iii.      (Lk 7:37-50) Mary was deliver of Demons and forgiven much, she at this point loved Jesus

·        People believe I'm too far gone to be forgiven but this is incorrect, God loves to forgive much

·        In a moment of time her entire life of immorality vanished she became pure became the bride of God.

·        Unmerited favor, we don't deserve salvation but Jesus paid that price.

  • It's safe to say, he can choose who he extends his favor to (Jn 3:16-19)

2.      Mary The Follower

·        (Luke 8:1-2)  - Where the Apostles were so was Mary following Jesus

·        (John 19:25) - Mary was there when Pilate condemn him to death, at the Cross of Calvary

·        ( John 20:1-18) - Mary was the first to see the risen savior, this was by choice, she put herself in that position

·        This is the sign of true conversion, regardless of cost we stand by the saviors side.

·        Something has occurred in Mary heart to have her so bold to fight for the savior well being after death.

·        Where were the apostles? In the comfort of their homes hiding, afraid of the Jews and Romans

  i.      Mary followed Jesus to the grave putting aside her own life, because she was dead to sin

ii.      Someone that has been converted becomes a follower of Christ, expound, Christ like

iii.     How do you compare to Mary? Examine yourself perhaps your not forgiven much.

1.      We need to realized that Jesus saved our souls and we belong to him

2.      He paid a price we could not pay (Romans 6:23)

  • Mary understood this because she was nothing prior to Jesus yet he restored her
  • As believers we must understand what price was paid for your sins
  • Our savior was crucified for our sins, how merciful he is



3.      Mary The Grateful

·        Mary was first touch by the masters forgiveness but now she sees the sacrifice

  i.      God's goodness just keeps getting better and better

·        He first saved her, healed her and died upon the cross for her later to ascend into heaven

   i.     (Luke 7:47) Much is forgiven

 ii.      If we are to follow her example we must come to realize what the Master has done for us

·        Have you counted the cost of those before us?

·        Do you understand what price has been paid for your sins?

  i.      Are you truly grateful for your salvation or are you complacent?

  • Mary was brave because she counted all lost for Christ, she was the filth of the earth but forgiven and always realize that Jesus saw the diamond in the ruff

  • What has God done for you and what are you going to do for God?

  • A good start is by bowing the knee and accepting him today





Mark 16:9
9 Now when He rose early on the first day of the week, He appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom He had cast seven demons.

John 8:3-11
3 Then the scribes and Pharisees brought to Him a woman caught in adultery. And when they had set her in the midst,
4 they said to Him, "Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act.
5 Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do You say?"
6 This they said, testing Him, that they might have something of which to accuse Him. But Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger, as though He did not hear.
7 So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said to them, "He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first."
8 And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground.
9 Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.
10 When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, "Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?"
11 She said, "No one, Lord." And Jesus said to her, "Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more."

Isa 1:18-20

18 "Come now, and let us reason together," Says the LORD, "Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool.
19 If you are willing and obedient, You shall eat the good of the land;
20 But if you refuse and rebel, You shall be devoured by the sword"; For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.

Luke 5:29-32
29 Then Levi gave Him a great feast in his own house. And there were a great number of tax collectors and others who sat down with them.
30 And their scribes and the Pharisees complained against His disciples, saying, "Why do You eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?"
31 Jesus answered and said to them, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.
32 I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance."

Luke 7:37-50
37 And behold, a woman in the city who was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at the table in the Pharisee's house, brought an alabaster flask of fragrant oil,
38 and stood at His feet behind Him weeping; and she began to wash His feet with her tears, and wiped them with the hair of her head; and she kissed His feet and anointed them with the fragrant oil.
39 Now when the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this, he spoke to himself, saying, "This man, if He were a prophet, would know who and what manner of woman this is who is touching Him, for she is a sinner."
40 And Jesus answered and said to him, "Simon, I have something to say to you." And he said, "Teacher, say it."
41 There was a certain creditor who had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty.
42 And when they had nothing with which to repay, he freely forgave them both. Tell Me, therefore, which of them will love him more?"
43 Simon answered and said, "I suppose the one whom he forgave more." And He said to him, "You have rightly judged."
44 Then He turned to the woman and said to Simon, "Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave Me no water for My feet, but she has washed My feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head.
45 You gave Me no kiss, but this woman has not ceased to kiss My feet since the time I came in.
46 You did not anoint My head with oil, but this woman has anointed My feet with fragrant oil.
47 Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little."
48 And He said to her, "Your sins are forgiven."
49 And those who sat at the table with Him began to say to themselves, "Who is this who even forgives sins?"
50 Then He said to the woman, "Your faith has saved you. Go in peace."

John 3:16-19
16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.
18 He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
19 And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.

Luke 8:1-2
:1 Now it came to pass, afterward, that He went through every city and village, preaching and bringing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God. And the twelve were with Him,
2 and certain women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities--Mary called Magdalene, out of whom had come seven demons,

John 19:25
25 Now there stood by the cross of Jesus His mother, and His mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.

John 20:1-18
20:1 On the first day of the week Mary Magdalene went to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb.
2 Then she ran and came to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and said to them, "They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him."
3 Peter therefore went out, and the other disciple, and were going to the tomb.
4 So they both ran together, and the other disciple outran Peter and came to the tomb first.
5 And he, stooping down and looking in, saw the linen cloths lying there; yet he did not go in.
6 Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb; and he saw the linen cloths lying there,
7 and the handkerchief that had been around His head, not lying with the linen cloths, but folded together in a place by itself.
8 Then the other disciple, who came to the tomb first, went in also; and he saw and believed.
9 For as yet they did not know the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead.
10 Then the disciples went away again to their own homes.
11 But Mary stood outside by the tomb weeping, and as she wept she stooped down and looked into the tomb.
12 And she saw two angels in white sitting, one at the head and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain.
13 Then they said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping?" She said to them, "Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him."
14 Now when she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, and did not know that it was Jesus.
15 Jesus said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?" She, supposing Him to be the gardener, said to Him, "Sir, if You have carried Him away, tell me where You have laid Him, and I will take Him away."
16 Jesus said to her, "Mary!" She turned and said to Him, "Rabboni!" (which is to say, Teacher).
17 Jesus said to her, "Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, 'I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God.' "
18 Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that He had spoken these things to her.

Rom 6:23
23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Luke 7:47
47 Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little."



"He appeared first to Mary Magdalene." --Mark 16:9

Jesus "appeared first to Mary Magdalene," probably not only on account of her great love and persevering seeking, but because, as the context intimates, she had been a special trophy of Christ's delivering power. Learn from this, that the greatness of our sin before conversion should not make us imagine that we may not be specially favoured with the very highest grade of fellowship. She was one who had left all to become a constant attendant on the Saviour. He was her first, her chief object. Many who were on Christ's side did not take up Christ's cross; she did. She spent her substance in relieving His wants. If we would see much of Christ, let us serve Him. Tell me who they are that sit oftenest under the banner of His love, and drink deepest draughts from the cup of communion, and I am sure they will be those who give most, who serve best, and who abide closest to the bleeding heart of their dear Lord. But notice how Christ revealed Himself to this sorrowing one--by a word, "Mary." It needed but one word in His voice, and at once she knew Him, and her heart owned allegiance by another word, her heart was too full to say more. That one word would naturally be the most fitting for the occasion. It implies obedience. She said, "Master." There is no state of mind in which this confession of allegiance will be too cold. No, when your spirit glows most with the heavenly fire, then you will say, "I am Thy servant, Thou hast loosed my bonds." If you can say, "Master," if you feel that His will is your will, then you stand in a happy, holy place. He must have said, "Mary," or else you could not have said, "Rabboni." See, then, from all this, how Christ honours those who honour Him, how love draws our Beloved, how it needs but one word of His to turn our weeping to rejoicing, how His presence makes the heart's sunshine.

Mary Magdalene

Mary Magdalene is highly regarded by Christians for many reasons, one of which is that she was the first person to see Jesus after he was resurrected. (John 20:10-18).

The Roman Catholic, Anglican and Eastern Orthodox churchs revere her as a saint. Christians celebrate an annual feast on July 22. Many Christian churches and schools are named after her.

Her name literally means "Mary of Magdala," which is a town on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee. "Magdala" is the name for the town in the Aramaic language. The Hebrew-language name is often rendered in English as "Migdol" or "Migdal."

She was possessed by demonic spirits until she was healed by Jesus (Luke 8:2). Afterwards, she began to follow Jesus. She was present during the crucifixion and burial of Jesus.

Click here for an online Bible showing the verses that mention Mary Magdalene by name: - Mary Magdalene

John 8:5; John 8:6; John 8:7; John 8:8; John 8:9; John 8:10; John 8:11; John 8:12; John 8:13; John 8:14; John 8:15; John 8:16; John 8:17
John 8:5

Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou?
[Moses in the law ...] The punishment of adultery commanded by Moses was death, Lev 20:10; Deut 22:22. The particular manner of the death was not specified in the law. The Jews had themselves, in the time of Christ, determined that it should be by stoning. See this described in the notes at Matt 21:35,44. The punishment for adultery varied. In some cases it was strangling. In the time of Ezekiel (Ezek 16:38-40) it was stoning and being thrust through with a sword. If the adulteress was the daughter of a priest, the punishment was being burned to death.


John 8:6; John 8:7
John 8:6

This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not.
[That they might have to accuse him.] Had our Lord condemned the woman to death, they might have accused him to Pilate, as arrogating to himself the power of life and death, which the Romans had taken away from the Jews; besides, the Roman laws did not condemn an adulteress to be put to death. On the other hand, if he had said she should not be put to death, they might have represented him to the people as one who decided contrary to the law, and favoured the crime of which the woman was accused.
[With his finger wrote] Several MSS. add their sins who accused her, and the sins of all men. There are many idle conjectures concerning what our Lord wrote on the ground, several of which may be seen in Calmet.
We never find that Christ wrote anything before or after this; and what he wrote at this time we know not. On this the pious Quesnel makes the following reflections:
1. Since Jesus Christ never wrote but once that we hear of in his whole life;
2. since he did it only in the dust;
3. since it was only to avoid condemning a sinner; and,
4. since he would not have that which he wrote so much as known; let men learn from hence, never to write but when it is necessary or useful; to do it with humility and modesty; and to do it on a principle of charity.
How widely does Christ differ from men! He writes his divine thoughts in the dust: they wish to have theirs cut in marble, and engraved on brass." Schools for children are frequently held under trees in Bengal, and the children who are beginning to learn write the letters of the alphabet in the dust. This saves pen, ink, and paper. WARD.

John 8:7
So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.
[He that is without sin] Anamarteetos (NT:361), meaning the same kind of sin, adultery, fornication, etc. Kypke has largely proved that the verb hamartanein (NT:264), is used in this sense by the best Greek writers.
[Let him first cast a stone at her.] Or, upon her, ep' (NT:1909) auteen (NT:846). The Jewish method of stoning, according to the rabbis, was as follows: The culprit, half naked, the hands tied behind the back, was placed on a scaffold, ten or twelve feet high; the witnesses, who stood with her, pushed her off with great force: if she was killed by the fall there was nothing further done; but, if she was not, one of the witnesses took up a very large stone, and dashed it upon her breast, which generally was the coup de grace, or finishing stroke. This mode of punishment seems referred to, Matt 21:44. However, this procedure does not appear to have been always attended to. See Lev 24:16, and John 8:59 of this chapter.
(from Adam Clarke's Commentary, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1996 by Biblesoft)

John 8:6
This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not.
[Tempting him] Trying him, or laying a plan that they might have occasion to accuse him. If he decided the case, they expected to be able to bring an accusation against him; for if he decided that she ought to die, they might accuse him of claiming power which belonged to the Romans-the power of life and death. They might allege that it was not the giving an opinion about an abstract case, but that she was formally before him, that he decided her case judicially, and that without authority or form of trial. If he decided otherwise, they would have alleged that he denied the authority of the law, and that it was his intention to abrogate it. They had had a controversy with him about the authority of the Sabbath, and they perhaps supposed that he would decide this case as he did that-against them. It may be further added that they knew that Jesus admitted publicans and sinners to eat with him; that one of their charges was that he was friendly to sinners (see Luke 15:2); and they wished, doubtless, to make it appear that he was gluttonous, and a winebibber, and a friend of sinners, and disposed to relax all the laws of morality, even in the case of adultery. Seldom was there a plan more artfully laid, and never was more wisdom and knowledge of human nature displayed than in the manner in which it was met.
[Wrote on the ground] This took place in the temple. The "ground," here, means the pavement, or the dust on the pavement. By this Jesus showed them clearly that he was not solicitous to pronounce an opinion in the case, and that it was not his wish or intention to intermeddle with the civil affairs of the nation.
[As though he heard them not] This is added by the translators. It is not in the original, and should not have been added. There is no intimation in the original, as it seems to be implied by this addition, that the object was to convey the impression that he did not hear them. What was his object is unknown, and conjecture is useless. The most probable reason seems to be that he did not wish to intermeddle; that he designed to show no solicitude to decide the case; and that he did not mean to decide it unless he was constrained to.

John 8:7
So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.
[They continued asking him] They pressed the question upon him. They were determined to extort an answer from him, and showed a perseverance in evil which has been unhappily often imitated.
[Is without sin] That is, without this particular sin; he who has not himself been guilty of this very crime-for in this place the connection evidently demands this meaning.
[Let him first cast a stone at her] In the punishment by death, one of the witnesses threw the culprit from the scaffold, and the other threw the first stone, or rolled down a stone to crush him. See Deut 17:6-7. This was in order that the witness might feel his responsibility in giving evidence, as he was also to be the executioner. Jesus therefore put them to the test. Without pronouncing on her case, he directed them, if any of them were innocent, to perform the office of executioner. This was said, evidently, well knowing their guilt, and well knowing that no one would dare to do it.

John 8:8
And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground.

No BARNES commentary on this verse.

John 8:9
And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.
[Beginning at the eldest] As being conscious of more sins, and, therefore, being desirous to leave the Lord Jesus. The word "eldest" here probably refers not to age, but to benefit-from those who were in highest reputation to the lowest in rank. This consciousness of crime showed that the state of the public morals was exceedingly corrupt, and justified the declaration of Jesus that it was an adulterous and wicked generation, Matt 16:4.
[Alone] Jesus only was left with the woman, etc.
[In the midst] Her accusers had gone out, and left Jesus and the woman; but it is by no means probable that the people had left them; and, as this was in the temple on a public occasion, they were doubtless surrounded still by many. This is evident from the fact that Jesus immediately (John 8:12) addressed a discourse to the people present.

John 8:10
When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee?
[Hath no man condemned thee?] Jesus had directed them, if innocent, to cast a stone, thus to condemn her, or to use the power which he gave them to condemn her. No one of them had done that. They had accused her, but they had not proceeded to the act expressive of judicial condemnation.

John 8:11
She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.
[Neither do I condemn thee] This is evidently to be taken in the sense of judicial condemnation, or of passing sentence as a magistrate, for this was what they had arraigned her for. It was not to obtain his opinion about adultery, but to obtain the condemnation of the woman. As he claimed no civil authority, he said that he did not exercise it, and should not condemn her to die. In this sense the word is used in the previous verse, and this is the only sense which the passage demands. Besides, what follows shows that this was his meaning.
[Go, and sin no more] You have sinned. You have been detected and accused. The sin is great. But I do not claim power to condemn you to die, and, as your accusers have left you, my direction to you is that you sin no more. This passage therefore teaches us:
1. that Jesus claimed no civil authority.
2. that he regarded the action of which they accused her as sin.
3. that he knew the hearts and lives of men.
4. that men are often very zealous in accusing others of that of which they themselves are guilty. And,
5. that Jesus was endowed with wonderful wisdom in meeting the devices of his enemies, and eluding their deep-laid plans to involve him in ruin.
It should be added that this passage, together with the last verse of the preceding chapter, has been by many critics thought to be spurious. It is wanting in many of the ancient manuscripts and versions, and has been rejected by Erasmus, Calvin, Beza, Grotius, Wetstein, Tittman, Knapp, and many others. It is not easy to decide the question whether it be a genuine part of the New Testament or not. Some have supposed that it was not written by the evangelists, but was often related by them, and that after a time it was recorded and introduced by Papias into the sacred text.

John 8:12
Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.
[I am the light of the world] See the notes at John 1:4,9.

John 8:13
The Pharisees therefore said unto him, Thou bearest record of thyself; thy record is not true.
[Thou bearest record of thyself] Thou art a witness for thyself, or in thy own case. See John 5:31. The law required two witnesses in a criminal case, and they alleged that as the only evidence which Jesus had was his own assertion, it could not be entitled to belief.
[Is not true] Is not worthy of belief, or is not substantiated by sufficient evidence.

John 8:14
Jesus answered and said unto them, Though I bear record of myself, yet my record is true: for I know whence I came, and whither I go; but ye cannot tell whence I come, and whither I go.
[Jesus answered ...] To this objection Jesus replied by saying, first, that the case was such that his testimony alone ought to be received; and, secondly, that he had the evidence given him by his Father. Though, in common life, in courts, and in mere human transactions, it was true that a man ought not to give evidence in his own case, yet in this instance, such was the nature of the case that his word was worthy to be believed.
[My record] My evidence, my testimony.
[Is true] Is worthy to be believed.
[For I know whence I came ... but ye ...] I know by what authority I act; I know by whom I am sent, and what commands were given me; but you cannot determine this, for you do not know these unless I bear witness of them to you. We are to remember that Jesus came not of himself (John 6:38); that he came not to do his own will, but the will of his Father. He came as a witness of those things which he had seen and known (John 3:11), and no man could judge of those things for no man had seen them. As he came from heaven; as he knew his Father's will; as he had seen the eternal world, and known the counsels of his Father, so his testimony was worthy of confidence. As they had not seen and known these things, they were not qualified to judge. An ambassador from a foreign court knows the will and purposes of the sovereign who sent him, and is competent to bear witness of it. The court to which he is sent has no way of judging but by his testimony, and he is therefore competent to testify in the case. All that can be demanded is that he give his credentials that he is appointed, and this Jesus had done both by the nature of his doctrine and his miracles.

John 8:15
Ye judge after the flesh; I judge no man.
[After the flesh] According to appearance; according to your carnal and corrupt mode; not according to the spiritual nature of the doctrines. By your preconceived opinions and prejudices you are determined not to believe that I am the Messiah.
[I judge no man] Jesus came not to condemn the world, John 3:17. They were in the habit of judging rashly and harshly of all; but this was not the purpose or disposition of the Saviour. This expression is to be understood as meaning that he judged no one after their manner; he did not come to censure and condemn men after the appearance, or in a harsh, biased, and unkind manner.

John 8:16
And yet if I judge, my judgment is true: for I am not alone, but I and the Father that sent me.
[And yet, if I judge] If I should express my judgment of men or things. He was not limited, nor forbidden to do it, nor restrained by any fear that his judgment would be erroneous.
[My judgment is true] Is worthy to be regarded.
[For I am not alone] I concur with the Father who hath sent me. His judgment you admit would be right, and my judgment would accord with his. He was commissioned by his Father, and his judgment would coincide with all that God had purposed or revealed. This was shown by the evidence that God gave that he had sent him into the world.

John 8:17
It is also written in your law, that the testimony of two men is true.
[In your law] Deut 17:6; 19:15. Compare Matt 18:16. This related to cases in which the life of an individual was involved. Jesus says that if, in such a case, the testimony of two men were sufficient to establish a fact, his own testimony and that of his Father ought to be esteemed ample evidence in the case of religious doctrine.
[Two men] If two men could confirm a case, the evidence of Jesus and of God ought not to be deemed insufficient.
[Is true] In Deuteronomy, "established." This means the same thing. It is confirmed; is worthy of belief.
(from Barnes' Notes, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1997 by Biblesoft)


1 Josephus,
Jewish War 7.203.

2Bella Civilia 1.120.
Undoubtedly, one of the cruelest and most humiliating forms of punishment in the ancient world was, according to ancient sources, crucifixion. The Jewish historian Josephus best described it following the siege of Jerusalem by the Romans in AD 66-70 as "the most wretched of deaths."1 Whereas in Seneca's Epistle 101 to Lucilius, he argues that suicide is preferable to the cruel fate of being put on the cross.

This form of state terror was widespread across the Roman Empire which included Europe, North Africa and Western Asia. It originated several centuries before the Common Era and continued into the fourth century AD when the practice was discontinued by Constantine, the emperor of Rome. While its origins are obscured in antiquity, it is clear that this form of capital punishment lasted for around 800 years and tens if not hundreds of thousands of individuals were subject to this cruel and humiliating death. Mass executions in which hundreds and thousands died – such as the well known crucifixion of 6,000 followers of Spartacus as part, of a victory celebration along the Appian Way in 71 BCE – appear in the literature.2


3 Plutarch (AD 46-120)

4 Curtius Rufus, Hist. Alex. 4.4.17.
While many people believe that crucifixion was reserved for criminals only as a result of Plutarch's passage that "each criminal condemned to death bears his cross on his back,"3 the literature clearly shows that this class of individuals were not the only ones subjected to this ultimate fate. Alexander the Great had 2,000 survivors from the siege of Tyre crucified on the shores of the Mediterranean.4 In addition, during the times of Caligula – AD 37-41 – Jews were tortured and crucified in the amphitheater to entertain the inhabitants of Alexandria. Women are seldom if ever mentioned specifically in the ancient sources aside from two passages in the Mishna, one in Tractate Mourning 2.11 which suggests that women may have been sacrificed as well. The second reference is found in Sanhedrin 6.5 in which Simeon B. Shetah had 70 or 80 sorceresses hung in the city of Ashkelon. However, as crucifixion was widely employed with slaves, one can assume that, in the ancient world its use was thus not limited by gender but mainly by class.

Crucifixion amongst the Jews was rare and except for a few instances, the subject was stoned to death first and then hung on a tree in accordance with the Biblical passage in Deuteronomy 21:22-23:

"When someone is convicted of a crime punishable by death and executed, and you hang him on a tree, his corpse must not remain all night upon the tree; you shall bury him that same day, for anyone hung on a tree is under God's curse."

5 Josephus,
Antiquities 12.256.

6 V. Tzaferis, "Jewish Tombs at and Near Giv'at ha-Mivtar," Israel Exploration Journal 20:31, 1971.
There was one notable exception to this passage in which the victims were first killed via crucifixion rather that being hung on a tree after death. This was the case with the high priest, Alexander Janneus in which 800 Pharisees were crucified in Jerusalem in 267 BC before their wives and children. While on the cross, according to Josephus5 the women and children were then slaughtered. Despite this plethora of literary evidence for crucifixion over the centuries in the ancient world, the direct anthropological evidence amounts to but one case from Jerusalem discovered in 1968.


In 1968 building contractors working in a suburb north of Jerusalem accidentally uncovered The Crucified Man Bonea Jewish tomb dated to the first century after the death of Christ.6 Lying in a Jewish ossuary bearing the Hebrew inscription 'Jehohanan the son of HGQWL' were the skeletal remains of a man in his twenties, who had been crucified. The evidence for this was based on the right calcaneum (heel bone) of the individual, pierced by an iron nail 11.5 cms. in length. The nail penetrated the lateral surface of the bone emerging on the middle of the surface in which the tip of the nail had become bent. The bending of the tip of the nail upon itself suggests that after the nail penetrated the tree or the upright it may have struck a knot in the wood thereby making it difficult to remove from the heel when the victim was taken from the cross.
cross.GIF - 32.0 K Remains of olive wood found between the head of the nail and the heel bone suggest that prior to penetrating the heel bone the nail was driven through a wooden plaque so as to increase the head of the nail thus making it difficult for the victim to free his legs from the upright. Due to the taphanomic process which occurred over a period of 2,000 years the skeleton was in a poor state of preservation. Being friable and fragmentary, with many postmortem breaks, the right heel bone was not amenable for proper anthropological investigation.

7 J. Zias and E. Sekeles, 1985, "The Crucified Man from Giv'at ha-Mivtar: A Reappraisal", Israel Expoloration Journal 35:22-27.
Despite the assertion by Haas in his 1970 article that both legs were affixed by one nail, a subsequent reexamination by Zias and Seketes in 1985,7 found that many of the conclusions upon which his attempted reconstruction were made, were flawed. For instance, the nail which he reported to be 17-18 centimeters in length was actually only 11.5cm thus making it anatomically impossible to affix two feet with one nail. Furthermore, there was no evidence of traumatic injury to the forearms, therefore it would appear that the individual was bound and nailed to the cross as shown in the figure above.


8 E. Brandetiburger 1969, "Kreuz," Theological Dictionary of the New Testament II, I, 1969, 826f and J. Jeremias 1966, The Eucharistic Words of Jesus, London and New York, p. 223 – quoted in Crucifixion Martin Hengel, pg 31, Fortress Press, Philadelphia.

9 Josephus,
Jewish War 5.11 & 451.

10 Shabbath 6.6
This near total absence of any direct anthropological evidence for crucifixion in antiquity bears the question of why, aside from the case described above, is the record silent. There are two possibilities which may account for this silence, one is that most victims may have been tied to the cross. In Christian art, the Good and the Bad thieves are depicted as being tied to the cross despite the fact that the Gospels do not go into detail as to how they were affixed to the cross. Scholars have in fact argued that crucifixion was a bloodless form of death because the victims were tied to the cross.8 Maxtin Mengel, however who wrote what is perhaps the definitive scholarly report of the subject of Crucifixion in antiquity, takes along with Hewitt (1932) an opposing view. He argues that nailing the victim by both hands and feet was the rule and tying the victim to the cross was the exception. During the first revolt of the jews against the Romans in AD 66-73, Josephus mentions that in the fall of Jerusalem (AD 70), "the soldiers out of rage and hatred amused themselves by nailing their prisoners in different postures."9 In spite of these differences of opinion, I would take a differing view and suggest that the number of individuals being crucified may in fact determine the manner in which the execution took form. If, as in the case with the account of 6,000 prisoners of war being crucified along the Appian Way as part of a victory celebration it would seem plausible that the most quick and efficient manner was employed. That would be to simply tie the victim to the tree or cross with his hands suspended directly over his head. Death thus would occur within minutes or perhaps an hour if the victims feet were not nailed or tied down. While this would explain the lack of any direct evidence on the human skeleton when tied to the cross, it would not explain the lack of evidence when the victim was nailed. This latter issue is best explained by the fact that nails of a victim crucified were among some of the most powerful medical amulets in antiquity and thus removed from the victim following their death. This is attested to by the Mishriaic passage10 which states that both Jews and Amorites (colloquium for non-Jews) may not carry a flail or whip from a crucifixion as a means of healing. For the Jews, this was even, according to some Rabbis, permitted on Shabbath when Jews were normally forbidden to carry object. As this Mishnaic passage mentions both Jews and non-Jews carrying these objects, one can infer the power of these amulets.



11 Stroud 1874; J.R. Whitaker 1935 The Physical Cause of the Death of Our Lord, Address to the St. Luke's Guild, London England; U. Wedessow 1978 Considerazioni ipotetiche sulla causa fisica della morte dell' iliomo della sindone.

12 Zugibe, 1984
13 LeBec 1925, Hynek 1936, Barbet 1937, Modder 1949

14 F.T. Zugibe, 1984 "Death by Crucifixion, Canadian Society of Forensic Science 17(1):1-13.6.

15A condition characterized by low blood pressure and reduced blood flow to the cells and tissues which leads to irreversible cell and organ injury and eventually death.

16 Josephus,
Life of 75.420-421

17 P. Barbet 1953 Les Cinq Plaies du Christ 2nd ed. Paris: Procure du Carmel de l' Action de Graces.
The complicated and much debated issue regarding how the individual expired on the cross has generated widespread debate over the years. While many researchers have believed that death occurred as the result of a ruptured heart11 due to the story in John 19:34 of the water and blood flowing out of the wound, pathologists such as Zugibe,12 have ruled this out as medically untenable. Other scholars13 have regarded asphyxiation as being the cause of death, however the latest research findings have shown the issue to be more complicated, depending upon the manner in which the victim was affixed to the cross. A series of experiments carried out by an American medical examiner and pathologist on college students who volunteered to be tied to crosses, showed that if the students were suspended from crosses with their arms outstretched in the traditional manner depicted in Christian art, they experienced no problems breathing.14 Thus the often quoted theory that death on the cross is the result of asphyxiation is no longer tenable if the arms are outstretched. According to the physiological response of the students, which was closely monitored by Zugibe, death in this manner is the result of the victim going into hypovolemic shock.15 Death is this manner can be in, a manner of hours, or days depending on the manner in which the victim is affixed to the cross. If the victim is crucified with a small seat, a sedile, affixed to the uptight for minimum support in the region of the buttocks, death can be prolonged for hours and days. In fact, Josephus reports that three friends of his were being crucified in Thecoa by the Romans who, upon intervention by Josephus to Titus were removed from the crosses and with medical care one survived.16

If, however, the victims are tied with their hands extended over their heads and left hanging, death can occur within an hour or, in minutes if the victims legs are nailed so that he cannot use his arms to elevate the body to exhale. For exhaling to occur in a normal manner two sets of muscles are needed, the diaphragm and. the intercostalis muscles between the ribs. With the victims being suspended by their arms directly over their heads, these sets of muscles cannot function properly which results in the victims inability to exhale and results in asphyxiation. Eyewitness accounts by prisoners of war in Dacchu during WWII reported that victims suspended from beams by their wrist, which were tied, expired within ten minutes if their feet were weighted or tied down and within one hour if their feet were unweighted and the victim was able to raise and lower himself to permit respiration. Death in this manner, which is one form of crucifixion, was the result of suffocation.17

As a deterrent in the ancient world, many of its victims were crucified where the criminal event took place as was the case with thieves or along the cities busiest thoroughfares. The situation can perhaps best be summed up by Quintilian who wrote that, "whenever we crucify the guilty, the most, crowded roads are chosen, where most people can see and be moved by this fear. For penalties relate not so much to retribution as to their exemplary effect."18

18 Quintilian (AD 35-95)
Decl 274
As one of the main objectives of this cruel method of execution was its deterrent value, Roman authorities also devised various means whereby the victim could remain on the cross for days in public before eventually expiring. Thus the manner in which the victims were crucified was not fixed by law but appears dependent on the number of individuals involved, the sadistic ingenuity of those carrying out the execution and the time needed for this spectacle to have its maximum deterrent effect.

Giving the victim a proper burial following death on the cross, during the Roman period was rare and in most cases simply not permitted in order to continue the humiliation. Thus the victim was in many cases simply thrown on the garbage dump of the city or left on the cross as food for wild beasts and birds of prey.

Crucifixion: Jesus Faced a Horrible Death
Crucifixion typically began with a scourging or flogging of the victim’s back. The Romans used a whip called a flagrum, which consisted of small pieces of bone and metal attached to a number of leather strands. The number of blows given to Jesus is not recorded; however, the number of blows in Jewish law was 39 (one less than the 40 called for in the Torah, to prevent a counting error). During the scourging, the skin was ripped from the back, exposing a bloody mass of tissue and bone. Extreme blood loss occurred, often causing death, or at least unconsciousness. In addition to the flogging, Jesus faced severe beating and torment by the Roman soldiers, including the plucking of His beard and the piercing of His scalp with a crown of thorns.

After the flogging, the victim was often forced to carry his own crossbar, or patibulum, to the execution site. The patibulum could easily weigh 100 pounds. In the case of Jesus, the record shows that He may have carried His patibulum the distance of over two football fields. In a weak and tormented state, it’s no wonder the record establishes that Jesus needed a great deal of assistance. Once the victim arrived at the execution site, the patibulum was put on the ground and the victim was forced to lie upon it. Spikes about 7 inches long and 3/8 of an inch in diameter were driven into the wrists. The spikes would hit the area of the median nerve, causing shocks of pain up the arms to the shoulders and neck. Already standing at the crucifixion site would be the 7-foot-tall post, called a stipes. In the center of the stipes was a crude seat to “support” for the victim. The patibulum was then lifted on to the stipes, and the victim’s body was awkwardly turned on the seat so that the feet could be nailed to the stipes. At this point, there was tremendous strain put on the wrists, arms and shoulders, resulting in a dislocation of the shoulder and elbow joints. The position of the nailed body held the victim’s rib cage in a fixed position, which made it extremely difficult to exhale, and impossible to take a full breath. Having suffered from the scourging, the beatings and the walk with the patibulum, Jesus was described as extremely weak and dehydrated. He was probably losing significant amounts of blood. As time passed, the loss of blood and lack of oxygen would cause severe cramps, spasmodic contractions and probably unconsciousness.

Ultimately, the mechanism of death in crucifixion was suffocation. To breathe, the victim was forced to push up on his feet to allow for inflation of the lungs. As the body weakened and pain in the feet and legs became unbearable, the victim was forced to trade breathing for pain and exhaustion. Eventually, the victim would succumb in this way, becoming utterly exhausted or lapsing into unconsciousness so that he could no longer lift his body off the stipes and inflate his lungs. Due to the shallow breathing, the victim’s lungs would begin to collapse in areas, probably causing hypoxia. Due to the loss of blood from the scourging, the victim probably formed a respiratory acidosis, resulting in an increased strain on the heart, which beats faster to compensate. Fluid would also build up in the lungs. Under the stress of hypoxia and acidosis, the heart would eventually fail. There are several different theories on the actual cause of death for Jesus. One theory is that there was a filling of the pericardium with fluid, which put a fatal strain on the ability of His heart to pump blood. Another theory states that Jesus died of cardiac rupture. Another theory is that Jesus' death was “multifactorial and related primarily to hypovolemic shock, exhaustion asphyxia and perhaps acute heart failure.” Regardless of the actual medical cause of final death, the historical record is very clear -- Jesus suffered numerous hours of horrible and sustained torture on the cross of Calvary.

Crucifixion: Jesus Suffered for You and Me
The crucifixion accounts of Jesus Christ are in entire agreement with the customs and practices of the Romans in that period. The evidence for Christ’s horrible and painful death is unquestioned by today’s legitimate scholars. The only dispute is the nature and character of the “criminal” Jesus Christ. Look at the record yourself -- Even with all the pain, Jesus thought of others rather than Himself. His first words from the cross were, "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do" (Luke 23:34). He thought of His mother, who stood by the cross weeping, and asked his beloved disciple John to take care of her. On either side of Jesus were two thieves executed at the same time. When one of them accepted Jesus as Lord, Jesus shared with him, "To day shalt thou be with Me in paradise" (Luke 23:43). Finally, Jesus expressed his complete surrender to the will of God as He said, "It is finished;" (John 19:30). "Father, into Thy hands I commend My spirit" (Luke 23:46). Investigate the historical record, and then examine your heart. Jesus gave Himself willingly for you and me. Jesus suffered a horrible death for you and me. Jesus loved us so much that He willingly died in utter shame and pain for our sins. In fact, the Bible teaches us that He who was without sin was literally "made sin" for us. God, in human form, allowed himself to be made sin to save us. On the cross, he bore all the world's sin because of His love. The only way to complete His story of love is to love Him in return.