Some have speculated that Jesus merely swooned, which is an old world word for, “fainted.” This idea presents the notion that Jesus was not completely dead but instead lost consciousness for a few days and then woke up. However, this does not explain how a weak and fainting, near corpse, rolled away the “secure” stone. (John 20:1) It does not explain how a woozy swoon weary victim of a botched execution overpowered the Roman soldiers who were guarding the tomb. (Matthew 27:66) It does not explain where he went, and why he was so hard to find in the most populated city in the area. When Governor Pilate heard that Jesus had already died, he was skeptical, so he verified it with his centurion. His action of doubling checking that Jesus was deceased came back as a resounding, “yes.” (Mark 15:43-44) Rome had a process whereby they ensured that the one being crucified was undoubtedly, irrefutably, indubitably dead before being removed from the cross. As previously mentioned, there were at least four verifications that Jesus was dead. Although the Gospels indicate that there were probably hundreds, maybe even thousands that saw Jesus crucified, they mention a list of at least twenty individual eyewitness who beheld Jesus’ death. A number of these even worked to prepare Jesus’ body for burial. These eyewitness include the following list.
1 Mary Magdalene, (John 19:25)
2 Mary of Clopas, (John 19:25)
3 Salome, (Mark 15:40)
4 Zebedee’s wife, (John 19:56)
5 Jesus’ mother. (John 19:27)
6 the disciple John, (John 19:27)
7 Joseph of Arimathea, (Matthew 27:57)
8 Jesus’ aunt, (John 19:25),
9 Nicodemus, (John 19:39)
10 Simon of Cyrene, (Matthew 27:32)
11 A Roman centurion (Matthew 27:54)
12 & 13 Two criminals (Mark 15:27)
14 - 17 Four soldiers (John 19:23)
20+ “Many” Jews (John 19:20)
This list is not exhaustive in that it does not include, Caiaphas, Annas, Peter, or the scribes and elders that make up the Sanhedrin. It can be strongly inferred that they were present, (Matthew 26:57-67, John 19:21) but the gospels do not tell us specifically. It should also be noted that John and the other women mentioned who were present were actually close enough to have a conversation with Jesus while he was on the cross. (John 19:25-27) This tells us that the crowd was allowed to press in to within a tight proximity of the dying Jesus. They were able to see, in gory detail all that transpired.