Why Jesus Died So Quickly on the Cross

Of the many non-Christian explanations for the Resurrection, the “Swoon Theory” is amongst the most popular. If Jesus didn’t really die on the cross, His alleged “resurrection” is really nothing more than a remarkable “resuscitation”.  Those who doubt Jesus’ death often point to the short amount of time Jesus spent on the cross prior to dying. Victims of crucifixion typically died slowly as a result of their pain, exposure to the environment, and lack of food or water. But Jesus only spent six hours on the cross; his rapid death was unusual given that some historical references to crucifixion describe it as lasting several days. Even the Biblical account describes Jesus early death as an exception. The Apostle John said the two criminals crucified alongside Jesus were still alive six hours after they were crucified so “the soldiers therefore came and broke the legs of the first man who had been crucified with Jesus, and then those of the other” to make sure they would die before the Sabbath (John 19:31-34). Why then, did Jesus die so quickly on the cross? Can we be sure he died at all?

Jesus pre-crucifixion experience was unusual given His identity and claims. As we review the chronology prior to the crucifixion, we begin to understand why Jesus died so quickly on the cross:

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Our Great Needs and the Ideal

Carved in to the façade of the Nelson Atkins Art Museum in downtown Kansas City, Missouri, is a quote credited to Victor Hugo. The first part of the quote is this: “the human soul has still greater need of the ideal than the real.” These words face the rather famous Country Club Plaza and I noticed them all over again as my children and I milled around the sculpture park that decorates the green space in front of the museum recently.

Approaching Easter, my thoughts naturally (and supernaturally for that matter) turn to resurrection and then to the pressing global needs that cram airwaves, news tweets, and editorial blogs. Will Iran spiral in to a war with Israel? Has the rise of the Western economy stopped and it’s now the rise of the rest that will dominate the future? Is there a ‘new world’ being developed somewhere on earth with immigrants looking for a home for their family and faith? Does anyone notice that the tomb of Jesus is still empty?

Back at the sculpture park, my children are racing from one piece to the next and we’re playing a game that I unapologetically started.

What if Jesus Is Still Dead?

There have been a lot of great religious teachers throughout history. Confucius, Buddha and Mohammed are three of the most recognizable, and all have millions of followers to this day. Yet there's one thing about all three--and every other great teacher from the past--that should be somewhat disconcerting to their followers: they're all dead.

Then there's Jesus, the greatest teacher of all. Like Confucius, Buddha and Mohammed, Jesus died. But unlike the other great spiritual leaders and self-proclaimed prophets who have walked the earth throughout history, Jesus came back to life.

Now, this may not matter to some people (and by the sheer numbers people who follow dead teachers and prophets, it must not), but it should matter to you. if you are a follower of Christ, you need to know that the resurrection of Jesus from the dead is the most important part of your faith. 

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Passion Week is a Calling and You're Called

My friend walked up to me weeping. I asked him what was wrong. He responded, "I just read the Gospel of Luke. I think I need to sell everything and follow Jesus. ... But that's not what makes me sad; it's that I am so far from Christ. All these years I've been following Him and I'm just now realizing what it means to actually follow Him. He was willing to give everything for me, and I must give everything for Him."

I cried too. It changed my life. I wanted to respond with some scholastic copout about metaphors or hyperbole, but I knew that wasn’t the truth. Christ has called us to give everything for Him.

But I must tell you that God is still working this great work in me. And as for my friend, I recently brought this story up to him, and he said that God is still doing the great work in him as well. What we share in common is that Christ has seriously transformed both of us since that day.

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a Law before THE LAW

As Passover and Easter are fast approaching I have been reading the account of God’s deliverance of the people of Israel from the yoke of Pharaoh and the Egyptians.  My purpose in doing this has been to go back to the root, the foundation of Easter, for it is rooted in the Passover, and the Passover, finds it root in the Exodus.  Reading the book of Exodus these past couple of weeks has just been awesome!  God has taught me much about himself through studying this book.

One I would like to share with you is the Sabbath.  On Friday I participated in my first Shabbat dinner.  Shabbat is the Hebrew word for Sabbath, meaning a day of rest.  It was such a wonderful occasion for me to participate, as I gained a new appreciation for this weekly Jewish custom.  For instance, one of the duties of the father at the Shabbat dinner is to say a blessing over his family, starting with the wife first, quoting Proverbs 31 as his blessing over her.

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Remembrance of Me

If Easter really happened, I may rest,                                                                                                                allowed to loose my hands from the outcomes of this day,                                                                            flying freely from an identity beyond my own.                                                                                                   Hope of Glory now resides within,                                                                                                                     the wings of Christ, from which I can do nothing without.

Christ's Love and the Blessing of Holy Saturday

Saturday in Holy Week – in between Good Friday and Easter Sunday, it seems like just a placeholder. Why then does the Church call it Holy?

On the Friday we call Good, our Lord laid down his life for us; went to the Cross in love, and there took on all the weight of the world’s sin, and death too, all for us. He died. His heart was pierced by the centurion’s spear, and blood and water poured out. His lifeless body was taken down, covered in blood and sweat, cradled in his mother’s arms, and then, hastily, wrapped up and placed in the tomb.

And there in the tomb he lay.

Jesus had done his work on the Cross – redeeming the world that God had made and called good, but that we had broken; calling all humanity to him, his arms outstretched on the Cross to draw all to himself. In six days, God made all of creation; on the seventh day He rested. And the Son, having done his work on the Cross, rested too.

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What is truth?

What is truth?  This question the Roman Governor Pilate asked Jesus is just as relevant today as it was two thousand years ago.  Pilate may have been replying in a sarcastic manor when Jesus stood before him claiming himself to be the truth, but it is a reality each of one of us must answer.  What is the truth about Christ?  As this is the week of Passover, Good Friday, and Easter, I want to help answer this question of who Jesus is by examining the last part of Olivet discourse found in Matthew 25:31-46.

Matthew 25:31-46 is a very popular passage these days.  It is often used by social justice minded people calling attention to make provision for the “least of these” in society.  Although this is a noble and important aspect of understanding this passage, it would be better to make this a secondary point of application.  The primary point of this passage is to ask what are the requirements for entrance into God’s kingdom?

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Shadow and Light: Thoughts on Route to Easter

Five long weeks of Lent, and yet one more, as we move through Holy Week toward the events of Easter. Why observe Lent? And why so long, when it seems so very long, these five weeks and more of a bare, unadorned church, of the disciplines of self-denial and self-examination?

Lent is indeed too long – too long for me to go on my own strength and resources. It is long enough for me to feel the initial enthusiasm of self-discipline, and past it, the weakness of failure. Lent is long enough for me to see my own weakness. Long enough to say, What’s the point? Why keep struggling on?

Lent cuts through our too-quick assurances of peace and joy; forces us to recognize that the pain of the world, and our own pain, cannot be salved by a cheery Bible verse or a hearty exhortation to rejoice.

Do You Believe in Miracles?

Miracles in the Bible—especially the miracle of the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead—are a problem for many people. To those who operate within a worldview of naturalism , a miracle is a violation of natural law (naturalism by definition excludes the supernatural). They don’t believe in miracles of any kind, most of all the resurrection.

The historical records of people seeing Jesus after the resurrection are meaningless to naturalists, because the events happened so long ago during a time when people were more prone to believe myths and fables. Of course, naturalists don’t have a problem believing in the existence of Julius Caesar, probably because he never performed any miracles.

Deists don’t go much for miracles either. Thomas Jefferson famously removed all the miracles from the New Testament and published what is known as The Jefferson Bible, or The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth. His goal was to present Jesus as a great moral teacher, without the miracles or the resurrection.

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