The key to why Jesus died quickly.

Luke 22:14–20 (ESV)

And when the hour came, he reclined at table, and the apostles with him. And he said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he said, “Take this, and divide it among yourselves. For I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.”

Something happens in this passage that’s an important clue to what happens later. Jesus drank little if anything at the last supper.

The word “for” that’s used twice in this passage, is “gar” in Greek. It’s a connector of explanation.

Why has Jesus earnestly desired to eat this Passover with them? Because He will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God. Why does He ask the disciples to divide up his cup of wine? Because from now on He will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.

This ends up affecting how Jesus dies and why He dies quicker than the two thieves he is crucified with. Jesus’s refusal to drink reduced His fluid levels.

Then Jesus does something that further dehydrates him. He pulls an all-nighter.

And he withdrew from them about a stone's throw, and knelt down and prayed, saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. And being in agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground. And when he rose from prayer, he came to the disciples and found them sleeping for sorrow, and he said to them, “Why are you sleeping? Rise and pray that you may not enter into temptation.” — Luke 22:41–46 (ESV)

Notably, Jesus even loses blood in this. He isn’t severely dehydrated yet, but he’s getting there.

Crucifixion normally took a couple of days to kill you. That’s what the Romans wanted. Remember, the purpose of crucifixion wasn’t to get rid of someone; it was to deter others from doing what you did. They wanted you writhing and screaming in pain for a long time.

But Jesus didn’t make it that long. His unique path to the cross weakened him in a way that made him specifically vulnerable to crucifixion. He wasn’t sick to start out with, and never got ill in any usual sense of the word.

He just got dehydrated.

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Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.