As Christians celebrate Holy Week each year, they delight in the waving of palm branches on Palm Sunday, celebrating the Lord’s Supper, and rejoicing over His resurrection, but it is tempting to gloss over Christ’s bloody, gut-wrenching crucifixion. It takes much emotional energy to deeply ponder His agony on the cross, but it is absolutely necessary not just during Holy Week but every week, for His work on the cross radically transforms His followers. With humble gratitude believers understand that Jesus came to earth to die in mankind's place, and they receive His forgiveness (Colossians 1:20) setting them free from our fathomless sin debt (Romans 6:23).
They took Jesus, therefore, and He went out, bearing His own cross, to the place called the Place of a Skull, which is called in Hebrew, Golgotha. There they crucified Him, and with Him two other men, one on either side, and Jesus in between. (John 19:17-18)
Throughout the Old Testament God shows Himself to be perfectly holy, all powerful, and just while all of mankind continually falls short, separated from God because of sin. Since the fall of man, God had allowed an animal without defect to die in man’s place as atonement for sin, but sin increased and animal sacrifices were never sufficient to fully cover the weight of all human sins. The Levitical sacrifices clearly emphasized that life giving blood must be shed to atone for sin. (Leviticus 17:11) Without the shedding of blood, there is no remission of sins (Hebrews 9:22), and this blood had to be perfect. With God as His father, only Jesus lived a sinless life and could offer perfect blood.
The Bible taught that the life was in the blood long before scientists understood the purposes and properties of blood. Blood carries life giving nutrients and oxygen to every cell tissue in the body, and it carries carbon dioxide, waste products, and other toxins from the cells to the lungs, kidneys, and bladder to be expelled from the body. Blood helps regulate body temperature to keep a person healthy healthy, while white blood cells fight pathogens and microbes that could make people sick. Blood platelets and fibrins help clot wounds. In these ways the blood cleanses and nourishes the cells providing health and healing to the entire body.
The blood is so vital to life that doctors commonly use blood samples to assess a person’s health. Natural health professionals employ live blood analysis to identify how lifestyle choices and dietary habits are affecting a client’s health because the impacts are so apparent in the blood.
Just as unhealthy lifestyle choices can starve cell tissues throughout the body of vital nutrients, sin starves the soul. When the kidneys fail, doctors use dialysis to remove waste and excess water from the blood. Without dialysis, patients die. Similarly, when anyone fails to feed the soul with God’s truth and life, sin floods the body with toxins so harmful that the heart grows calloused and the soul becomes ill.
Jesus knew mankind needed more than a blood transfusion or dialysis to be restored into a healthy relationship with God. Men and women needed to rid themselves of the old life altogether and be filled with His life giving blood. When Christ's blood covers the sinner, a spiritual live blood analysis would no longer show depravity but the spotless blood of the Lamb. He came as a sinless servant and poured out all of Himself for mankind to the point that he cried, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46b). When the soldiers returned to remove Jesus from the cross, they pierced His side, and water flowed out with his blood (John 19:34) signifying that He was fully dead and had finished the work by giving all of Himself. The mixture of water and blood may also be significant since water and blood were the primary elements used in Levitical purification. God cleansed the earth with water through the great flood of Noah's day and cleansed all mankind from their sins through Christ’s blood. Another interesting parallel between medical fact and spiritual implication is that water flowing out of a bodily wound can indicate a ruptured heart, and great agony of the soul can cause the heart to rupture.
As Christians consider the significance of Christ’s blood shed for every individual, the gruesome nature of the cross becomes something profoundly beautiful. He had the power to take Himself down from that cross at any time, but His unconditional, sacrificial love for each man, woman, and child held Him there through intense agony, for there was no other way through which mankind could be saved. That same love compelled Him to pray, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23: 34). Such love, extended to the very ones who despised and rejected Him, urges all believers to worship and to be identified with Him, sharing in His sufferings (Colossians 1:24).
May Christians continually rejoice that His life courses through their veins as they proclaim His resurrection. May they daily offer themselves as living sacrifices (Romans 12:1), denying self, taking up His cross to follow Him (Luke 9:23), identifying with Him in his crucifixion, and putting on new life in Him.
I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.
For more medical information pertaining to the crucifixion of Christ, please watch the informative video above.
*Adapted from a devotion the author originally wrote for the women's ministry at Providence Baptist Church
To follow Raleigh Christian Living, click on "subscribe" above or "like "Raleigh Christian Living Examiner on Facebook.