Did Jesus Die Of A Broken Heart? -- By: Edward M. Merrins

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 062:245 (Jan 1905)
Article: Did Jesus Die Of A Broken Heart?
Author: Edward M. Merrins

Did Jesus Die Of A Broken Heart?

Edward M. Merrins

From the days of the apostles to the present time, the closing scenes in the life of Christ have been keenly studied from every point of view by Christian scholars, many of whom have given to the world their theological interpretation of the events of the crucifixion, which constitute, or have entered into, the various doctrines of the Atonement. There has been much diversity of opinion and a vast amount of controversy over this subject, and it will probably continue until we have a much fuller knowledge than we now possess, of all the circumstances of the life and death of Christ, and of the depth and range of his mediatorial work. Concerning the actual facts of the crucifixion record in the Gospels, if we except the opinions of those who deny that our Lord really and truly died upon the cross, there has been comparatively little discussion and disagreement. In the early days of Christianity, the subject was treated with great reserve, principally because there was then an exalted sense of the divinity of Christ, and faith was joyous, the coming glories of the Messianic kingdom occupying a more prominent place in Christian thought, than the pains and sorrows of the earthly life of Jesus, tenderly as these were held in remembrance. He was the strong Son of God, who had triumphed over the powers of darkness, and who now possessed all power in earth and heaven. “And when I saw him, I fell at his feet

as one dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying, Fear not; I am the first and the last, and the Living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive for evermore.” It was felt the battle had been fought and won: why dwell on the stress and wounds of the conflict? The religion of the early Christians, therefore, was full of hope and brightness;, they acknowledged with love and gratitude the deliverance Christ had wrought for them upon the cross, they gloried in the cross, but they did not care to dwell with morbid particularity on the physical pains and mental anguish of the crucifixion. This reserve was not broken through until the sixth century, when, for the first time, there occurs a pictorial representation of the crucifixion, significant of the change taking place in Christian thought.

As we enter the moral darkness of the Middle Ages, religion becomes more stern and gloomy; men love to dwell on every item in the sufferings of Christ,—the agony and bloody sweat; the mocking, buffeting, and cruel scourging; each detail of the crucifixion from the time the nails were driven through the hands and feet, until the body was taken down from the cross. Every resource of art was employed to bring the scenes vividly before them, and the art faithfully reflected th...

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