That is one of the great mysteries of Jesus' death - The Father could save Jesus, and Jesus specifically asked to be excused but was not, Matt 26:39, 42.
as to whether Jesus actually died or not, there is abundant evidence that Jesus actually died. Here is a sample.
There are several records that Jesus' death would happen, ie, was predicted.
- Matt 16:21 - and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.
- Matt 17:23 - They will kill him, and on the third day he will be raised to life.
- Matt 20:19 - and will hand him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and
crucified. On the third day he will be raised to life!
- Mark 9:31 - They will kill him, but on the third day he will come back to life.
- Mark 10:34 - who will mock him and spit on him, flog him and kill him. Three days
later he will rise.
- Luke 18:33 - they will flog him and kill him. On the third day he will rise again.
- Luke 9:22 - The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the
chief priests and the teachers of the law, and he must be killed and on the third day be
raised to life.
The eye-witness accounts of Jesus' death:
- Matt 27:50 - "... Jesus … yielded up the/his spirit", or, he "breathed his last". That is, he stopped breathing and died. The guarding centurion also observed the death, v51. Note that the Roman soldiers were professional killers.
- Mark 15:37 - " … Jesus … expired". That is, He stopped breathing and died. The
guarding centurion also observed the death, v38.
- Mark 15:44 - When Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus, Pilate was
surprised he was already dead, so he asked a centurion to check that Jesus was dead.
The centurion confirmed it so Pilate released the body to Joseph. A Roman centurion
is a trained killer and an expert in telling if someone is dead.
- Luke 23:46 - " … expired". That is, He stopped breathing and died. The guarding
centurion also observed the death, v47.
- John 19:30 - "He [Jesus] said, 'It is finished!' And he bowed his head and gave up his
spirit." That is, He stopped breathing and died.
- John 19:33 - the soldiers did not break Jesus' legs because he was already dead.
(Roman soldiers were trained killers and knew how to tell if someone was alive or
- John 19:34 - just to be absolutely sure, one Roman soldier took a spear and pierced his
side - this would have been a trust of the spear up under the rub cage into the heart. If
Jesus were not dead before he would certainly have been dead afterward. As a result, a
mixture of blood and water emerged suggesting that he really was dead indeed!
- John 19:35 - the apostle John says he witnessed these things personally and testifies
that these facts are correct.
Some have suggested that there were no disciples and very few people who actually saw
the death of Jesus but that is not true. All Roman crucifixions were done to achieve two
objectives - to completely humiliate the victim and to provide some cheap ghoulish
entertainment for the masses - thus all crucifixions were attended by crowds (Luke 23:48).
It is also said that all the disciples deserted him in the garden of Gethsemane (Matt 26:56) but Peter (and some others) followed at a distance to observe the trials ((Matt 26:58).
Specifically, we know that the following named people observed the death of Jesus:
- Simon of Cyrene, another disciple, who carried the cross Matt 27:32, Luke 23:26.
- Joseph of Arimathea who asked Pilate for the body Luke 23:50-53.
- Nicodemus who visited Jesus by night John 19:39
- Cleopas and his friend (Luke 24:13-21) who were travelling to Emmaus on Sunday.
- Many women and others associated with Jesus (Luke 23:49) such as Mary the mother
of Jesus, Mary's sister Martha, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joses,
Salome, Mary the wife of Cleopas, Matt 27:55, 56, Mark 15:40, John 19:25. This also
included (at least) John as recorded in John 19:26, 27.
- It is also recorded that many of these same people accompanied the dead body to the
tomb to see where it was laid so that could embalm the body on Sunday morning. Matt
27:61, 28:1, Mark 15:47, 16:1, Luke 23:55, 24:10, John 20:1.
- One of the soldiers, specifically a centurion observed Jesus' death and was so moved
that he gave praise to the Jewish God of heaven Matt 27:54, Luke 23:47. Another pierced him with a spear to ensure His death and a soldier also witnessed the fact to
Pilate Mark 15:44, 45.
- Many of the Jewish leaders, including the chief priests, observed the crucifixion and
death to ensure that Jesus died and that their troublesome citizen was finally disposed
of. Matt 27:41-43, Mark 15:31
There are numerous other passages that discuss the death of Jesus.
- Luke 24:46 - This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on
the third day
- 1 Cor 15:3, 4 - … that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day
- Acts 10:40 - God raised him from the dead on the third day and caused him to be seen.
- Acts 13:30 - But God raised him up from the dead the third day
There is much evidence that Jesus actually died, not only from his friends the disciples but from Roman soldiers as well; that is, both sympathetic and antagonistic witnesses. This is very compelling and voluminous evidence.
There is also some important indirect evidence that Jesus was known by everyone in
Jerusalem, including the chief priests and Roman authorities, to have died.
- The chief priests were worried that the disciples would come to try and steal the dead
body so they posted a Roman guard to protect it, and on the Sabbath as well!! Matt
- The Roman soldiers guarding the tomb witness the resurrection but the chief priests
were so embarrassed by this that bribed the soldiers to say (in spite of dire
consequences for soldiers sleeping on duty) that the (dead) body of Jesus was stolen
while they slept!! Matt 28:11-15. This possibly even involved some bribes for Pilate
- Despite the report of some, many of the disciples could not believe that Jesus was
raised for the dead and were very frightened; Luke 24:36-43, John 20:11, 19, 20, 24-
In fact, the doctrine of Jesus’ humanity is so important that anyone who denies it is called antichrist! 1 John 4:3, 2 John 7.
The fact that the Bible so emphatically declares Jesus’ humanity does not diminish His
Lastly, there is now several reputable reports of the medical facts about Jesus' death in places like: https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/article-abstract/403315
Back to Heb 5:7 which says: During the days of Jesus' life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission.
Note that Jesus actually asked to be excused from the great sacrifice (Matt 26:39) three times but His request was denied. St Paul also prayed to be released from his "thorn in the flesh" three times as well but his request was also denied (2 Cor 12:7-9). Many take courage from these stories because if Paul and Jesus had their prayer requests denied (at least on these occasions) then when God denies me something, I am keeping good company!