The Swoon…

I guess I am lucky. I don’t remember ever swooning.  I have been knocked unconscious sliding into home plate at a baseball game but that is the closest I have come to “swooning.”

Doubters of Jesus Christ and His resurrection have put forth the swoon theory to explain their reluctance to accept the idea that Jesus rose from the dead. Here is the way it goes:

“Christ was indeed nailed to the cross. He suffered terribly from shock, loss of blood, and pain, and He swooned away; but He didn’t actually die.  Medical knowledge was not very great at that time, and the apostles thought He was dead…. He was taken down from the cross in a state of swoon by those who believed Him to be dead and laid in the sepulcher.  And the cool restfulness of the sepulcher so far revived Him that He was able to issue forth from the grave.  His ignorant disciples couldn’t believe that this was a mere resuscitation.  They insisted it was a resurrection from the dead” [J.N.D. Anderson].

Let’s examine this theory and try to debunk it. It basically claims that Jesus survived the exhaustion, pain and loss of blood to live.

First of all, He had to live three days without food and water and then be strong enough to escape the tomb. After the scourging that Jesus took and the abuse of carrying His cross to Golgotha and being in the elements with no food and water, He went for 72 hours in a tomb and then emerged under His own power.  That’s hard to believe.  It also counteracts the findings of Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus and the Roman soldiers at the crucifixion who thought He was dead when He was removed from the cross.  His side was pierced by a lance and His corpse made no motion.  From the wound, a mixture of blood and water flowed which revealed the state of decomposition of His vital organs.

Secondly, He was removed from the cross and wound in grave clothes. In preparing a body for burial, it was washed and straightened and bandaged tightly from the armpits to the ankles in strips of linen about a foot wide.  Spices were placed between the wrappings or folds which served as aroma and also as cement to glue the wrappings into a solid covering.  For a “swooned” man to get out of grave wrapping would be a miracle, much less a man who has suffered as much as Jesus.  Then of course a weakened Jesus who had swooned pushed aside a stone at the entrance of His tomb.  Historians say that it would take several men to move a stone like that.

Thirdly, there were Romans guard outside the tomb. How did Jesus get past them?  Roman soldiers were highly disciplined and they did not take guard duty lightly.  They were not weak as Jesus was and yet we are supposed to believe that somehow Jesus overpowered them and got away.  It seems implausible.

Fourthly, Jesus took off on foot. This part of the theory also seems unlikely.  The village of Emmaus was about seven miles from Jerusalem.  That was no small walk for a weak man; it was an impossible walk for a man who had His feet pierced with spikes.

Say all this did happen. What did Jesus do after He made His appearances and stirred up a frenzy about His resurrection?

He disappeared.

William Milligan in his book The Resurrection of Our Lord states that “He must have retired to some solitary retreat…while His Church was rising around Him, shaking the old Word to the foundations…. [While all this was going on] He was absent from it, and spending the remainder of His days, whether few or many, in what we can describe as no other term than ignoble solitude.  And then at last He must have died—no one can say where or when or how!”

When I “swooned” I remember sliding up under a big guy named Bobby Buckalew. Being a catcher I was told his leg protector came down and hit me right in the eye. Bobby’s weight was right on my head. I woke up after some time in my Dad and Mom’s car, a bit woozy but alive and able to carry on with life.

When Jesus “swooned” He was able to overcome the horrible injuries inflicted on His body like they did not even exist. The swoon theorists gave Him superhuman powers to do what He did [in their scenario].  As for me, I was very sore and bruised.

As for Jesus, He rose from the dead.

Swooning and recovering was just not possible.


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