Saturday, April 04, 2009

O what love is this?

Jesus died by crucifixion. But what was the actual cause of death? Have you ever wondered about that?

John, who was an eyewitness of the crucifixion, recorded something in his Gospel which is quite significant. After Jesus died, he says, a soldier "pierced his side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out" (John 19:34). The original Greek suggests that blood and water gushed forth.

It is a fact that blood does not flow from a body already dead. But even if there were an explanation for that, why blood and water?

There have been a number of theories about the cause of death. It appears that Jesus remained conscious almost to the moment of his death, which provides a clue. Around the heart is a sac called the pericardium, containing an aqueous liquid.

Some doctors suggest that Jesus died of heart failure. The soldier's spear pierced the pericardium and the heart, accounting for the blood and water which came forth. Others suggest that fluid would also have formed around the lungs, and the spear would have released this fluid also.

There is yet another theory which is worthy of consideration. According to this theory, after all the emotional, spiritual and physical suffering Jesus endured, His heart burst. The pericardium is capable of great distension. If the heart ruptured, blood would flow into the pericardium, blood pressure would drop and death would quickly follow.

Because of fibrinolysins in the blood as a result of the pain He had suffered, within half an hour the blood would separate into red cells and clear plasma. When the point of the spear perforated the pericardium, gravity would cause blood and water to rush from the wound.

If this last theory is correct, then the Lord Jesus during His passion suffered every known kind of flesh wound. Bruising, as His tormentors buffeted Him (Isa 53:5, 10; Matt 26:67); laceration, as they scourged Him (Psalm 129:1 - 3; Matt 27:26); penetration, as they gave Him a crown of thorns and hit Him over the head (Matt 27:29, 30); perforation, as they nailed Him to the cross (Psa 22:16; Matt 27:35); bursting, as His heart finally gave way (Psa 69:20); and incision, as the soldier pierced His side (John 19:33, 34).

That at least sounds right. He was spared no suffering as He paid the price for your sin and mine.

If this theory is correct, Jesus died literally of a broken heart.

There is a chorus we used to sing years ago:

He died of a broken heart for me;
He died of a broken heart.
Oh wondrous love, it was for me,
He died of a broken heart.

God so loved us that He was willing to give His only Son to bring us back to Himself. The Son so loved that He was willing to give Himself for us. May we be reminded afresh of the cost as we ponder that love this week.