The Christ, The Cross, The Crown

A presentation Friday by Dr. John Bergseng will explain the science behind what happens to a victim’s body during crucifixion.

Jesus Christ died on Good Friday. According to the Nicene Creed, it was for our sake that he was crucified under Pontius Pilot, suffered death and was buried.

Crucifixion was a form of capital punishment used by the Romans to execute Jesus Christ almost 2,000 years ago. That said, what does it mean to be crucified?

Find out when Dr. John Bergseng, a retired general surgeon from Glencoe, presents “Medical Aspects of the Crucifixion: The Arts and Science” at 7 p.m. Friday, April 2, at Grace Bible Church in Silver Lake. The presentation will last about an hour. The presentation will also be streamed live on the church’s website To access, follow the Facebook Live link.

According to the Rev. Tom Rakow, pastor at Grace Bible Church, the presentation was planned last year, but due to the pandemic it was canceled.

“Dr. Bergseng did a similar presentation at the Grace Bible Church quite a number of years ago and it was very memorable,” Rakow said. “I personally remember him giving medical insight into Jesus being under great stress in the garden on the Mount of Olives where he was praying and ‘his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground’ (Luke 22:44).”

“We know from the Bible that Jesus suffered things like: rejection, humiliation, abandonment and betrayal,” Rakow continued. “However, all four of the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) go into significant detail regarding the crucifixion itself. It is our hope that Dr. Bergseng’s presentation will help individuals have an even deeper appreciation of what Jesus Christ endured.”

Bergseng’s interest in the topic goes back to his medical school days at Des Moines University. One of his clinical instructors had an interest in the physiological changes in crucifixion, which he shared in a lecture. It piqued Bergseng’s curiosity.

“It’s a slow, painful, miserable process,” Bergseng said in an earlier Leader interview. “A number of factors contribute to asphyxiation. You can no longer hold yourself up because of broken legs. Your chest gets into a position where you can’t move air very well. You contain carbon dioxide. You die.”

Bengseng said the goal of such a terrible form of death, in view of the public, was to send a message to anyone who tried to go against the way of the times or challenge Roman leadership.

To visualize the process of scourging and crucifixion, all you have to do is view the movie “The Passion of The Christ.” It’s a powerful film that shows you what Jesus endured. Through the years, Bengseng has given this presentation multiple times. Although the audiences have changed, the kinds of responses he receives have remained consistent. Some are moved to tears knowing what Jesus went through, while others are amazed by the science behind crucifixion.

Based on historical record, what continually amazes the doctor is the accuracy of the four gospels’ description of the crucifixion. It has strengthened his faith as a Christian.

“We know Christ died on the cross,” he said. “Some people doubt how much historical value is in the Bible. How true is it? That goes to my amazement how accurate the biblical descriptions are. If that’s accurate, then that tells me other parts of the New Testament are just as accurate — the miracles, travels, healings, who said what. When you see the accuracy depicted, that’s great news.”