If you’re a Christian, you know that this week is holy week. I know that some of the days in Holy Week aren’t celebrated by every church. I work at a Methodist school, so we have observances for every day.
For today’s Worship Wednesday post, I wanted to talk about some of the science behind some of the conditions that Jesus suffered from on his way to the cross. And, if you’re a non-believer who thinks I will be saying “he didn’t really die and rise from the dead,” then don’t bother reading. I fully believe this happened.
So, let’s get in to this:
JESUS SWEATS BLOOD
The medical term for sweating blood is Hematidrosis. While doctors don’t know exactly what triggers Hematidrosis, many think it is linked to the body’s “fight or flight” response. Hematidrosis has been linked to extreme distress or fear like facing death, torture, or severe and ongoing abuse.
While this could just be a sort of imagery in Luke to mean that Jesus was praying with great effort, it seems his situation would warrant the medical side of this very real condition.
Although there doesn’t seem to be too much information about it, we know from historical research from the time that this was the normal scourging that went on. Most scholars believe the soldiers who scourged Jesus used a flagrum (pictured) which was a leather whip containing pieces of metal, glass, and metal balls at the end of each strip of the whip.
CROWN OF THORNS
They mocked him by putting this crown of thorns on his head. They also gave him a reed in his hand and said to him, “Hail, King of the Jews.”
I never really connected it before, but I wonder if they chose thorns because of his parable of the seeds where he says that seeds are often chocked by thorns. Interesting!
But, at this point, we know that Jesus is severely stressed, he has taken a beating with a very dangerous weapon, and he has had a crown of thorns placed on to his head.
CARRYING THE CROSS
So, imagine being beaten, mocked, and wearing a crown of thorns and being forced to carry the cross up to Calvary. We know it was hard for him to carry.
“And as they came out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name: him they compelled to bear his cross.” – Matthew 27:32
JESUS' TIME ON THE CROSS
as he pushed up on his nailed feet just to breathe. This would also cause him pain on his wounds and his hands and arms. The goal was to make those being crucified suffer as much as possible. It might take days for someone to die. People would come out for the set up and stay for a while, but then they would leave the crucifixion victims out there until they passed.
Usually, to make sure that they couldn't escape, the guards would break their knees. This didn't happen with Jesus.
"Then came the soldiers, and brake the legs of the first, and of the other which was crucified with him. But when they came to Jesus, and saw that he was dead already, they brake not his legs: But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water." - John 19:32-34
This water mingled with blood is a condition that happens when the organs begin to shut down. This was likely coming from his lungs and heart. Dr. Cahleen Shrier from Azusa Pacific University, said that this watery liquid was lkikely caused by carbon dioxide build-up in the blood, which causes a high level of carbonic acid in the blood.
This makes the person want to breathe to get more oxygen in the body. However, if the person can't breathe well, it causes damage to tissues which cause capillaries to leak!
I know that the headline of this is rather shocking for my regular readers who are Christians. But, I want to ease your mind by letting you know that I’m partially borrowing today’s title from the book written by a speaker I recently heard.
For today’s post, I want to discuss the ideas from theologian, philosopher, and writer Dr. Thomas J. Oord. I will then respond to them with my take and opinion.
DR. OORD’S SOLUTIONS FOR EVIL
We all struggle with answering the most difficult question to tackle in Christianity: “If God loves us, why does he allow bad things to happen?” According to Oord, and to my experience, many people explain away God’s “role” in tragedy by saying one of two things: “It’s all part of God’s plan” or “because we have free will that God chooses to grant us, he wouldn’t violate that by intervening.”
I take the stance of the latter most of the time, but Oord’s presentation got me thinking. His solutions for God’s “role” in tragedies are as follows:
While Oord has some excellent points here, I’m not sure if I can totally hop on board with all of them. Let’s talk about them one at a time.
GOD CANNOT STOP EVIL BY HIMSELF
However, God did judge the earth with a flood in Noah’s time. Perhaps it was God’s promise to Noah that he would no longer judge the Earth with floods (Genesis 9:11) that had Oord thinking in this direction. But, the promise was only about judgement in the form of the flood. Additionally, Revelation speaks about the many ways God will judge the Earth later, and we know he will triumph over sin. So, this solution isn’t a good one to me.
GOD EMPATHIZES WITH US
God most certainly empathizes with us, and I have no doubt that he is angry when one of his creations harms another.
GOD SQUEEZES GOOD FROM THE BAD
Biblically, we see this in the Book of Job. The devil tests Job’s faith and, while it is clear that Job is sad, frustrated, and hurt, he does not give up his faith. God then rewards him later many times over.
GOD NEEDS OUR HELP FOR LOVE TO WIN
I mean, he obviously has charged us with the responsibility of spreading the good news of Jesus Christ. I think that our three main responsibilities as Christians are to live like Jesus, tell the world about him, and worship God. Does he need us? I don’t think so. But, I think that God’s first intention was to live in harmony with his creation. That is, until sin came in to the picture.
“In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should sine unto them.” – 2 Corinthians 4:4.
I believe that God turned control of the world over to man and limited his power because of this. I mean, sin escalated from eating a fruit to murdering a man really quickly! He chooses to intervene sometimes. Most of the time, the interventions are due to the fact that a person may have been destined to accept him and hadn’t yet, or because they had some sort of call on their life that would lead to more good coming to the world.
Lucifer, who has become known by many names like Satan, the devil, the deceiver, the enemy, etc., has decided to reign over this world. He does this by trying to stop those who care for the Lord from spreading God’s message. You’ll likely see many people in the world who are not Christians who seems to prosper. Satan has them in his grasp, so it’s light work for him.
If you’re interested in learning more about Jesus, please check out some of my other posts. Additionally, you can click the “details” button below to learn how to accept Jesus as your savior!
WORSHIP WEDNESDAY: REOCCURRING THEMES IN ANN MARIE RUBY'S BOOK, "SPIRITUAL SONGS II: BLESSINGS FROM A SACRED SOUL"Read Now
For today's Worship Wednesday post, I partnered with author Ann Marie Ruby to read and review her book, "Spiritual Songs II: Blessings From a Sacred Soul."
I wanted to approach this book review from a different perspective and offer up a sort of analysis of some of the major reoccurring themes I picked up from this book. Let's get into it:
MY LORD, MY CREATOR
Lord (lôrd): Someone or something having power, authority, or influence; a master or ruler.
Dev·o·tee (devəˈtē,ˌdevəˈtā): A person who is very interested in and enthusiastic about someone or something.
Devotee also has a certain implication that perhaps there is some sort of desperation to this devotion. It invokes a question: "Could the devotee live without the person they're devoted to?" It seems obvious that Ruby is very devoted to Christ, perhaps from lessons she has learned in life.
When I read this, it reminded me of the song Sandy sings about Danny Zuko in Grease, called "Hopelessly Devoted to You."
Ob·sta·cle (ˈäbstək(ə)l): A thing that blocks one's way or prevents or hinders progress.
She regularly refers to the obstacles metaphorically as oceans or mountains. One of my most favorite lines from the book is from the song, "The Lord, The Creator," in which she says she "walks upon the sinful ocean," referring not only to sin as an obstacle, but also referring to Jesus' miracle of walking on the sea in the gospels.
When reading this, and understanding some of the deeper biblical roots, it gave me a sense of calm, much like the time when Jesus calmed the waters to ease the fear of his disciples. It also reminded me of one of my favorite Christian songs. See the video below to listen!
Om·nip·o·tent (ämˈnipəd(ə)nt): (of a deity) Having unlimited power; able to do anything.
In her song, "The Blessed Children of the Omnipotent," you really get a feel at how powerful these words are. Particularly, there is a section of this song that reads, "For we only ask, for we only seek, for we only knock, upon The Omnipotent's door." While you have the wisdom of knowing that omnipotent means all powerful, you get this beautiful image of knocking on God's door like a child or an old friend. While God is all powerful, He is also personal. This song in particular gives a special glimpse into God's character.
Overall, I enjoyed Ruby's book. She gives special attention to literary devices while alluding to the goodness and grace of God. While I don't think I have the heart to call this book the brother to David's Psalms, I would say it is a close second-cousin to them.
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Legal: I was gifted this book for free, but I was in no other way compensated for my review. All photos are my own or taken from Pixabay, a Creative Commons website that requires no attribution for photo use.
After I graduated college, I worked as a reporter for a newspaper located in one of North Carolina’s highest crime cities: Lumberton. I can’t count the number of murders, deaths, and controversies I reported on.
We have a saying in the news business: “If it bleeds, it leads.” This means the most controversial stories like murder or hit-and-runs are always printed above the fold so you could see the horrific headlines on the newsstand. Sales and views always went up when someone was murdered, or whenever some white-collar worker got mixed up in a town-wide scandal.
I’ve often found myself being the interviewer, the reporter asking all the questions to the grieving person. This is the first time in my life that I’ve become part of the headline rather than part of the byline. It’s hard, and I never realized how easy I thought it was.
In my own personal life, I tend to make the bad aspects of my day define my day, week, or even month. I always let the worse things lead my emotions, and that can cause me to totally ignore the blessings God sends my way.
It all started last week. I was replying to messages and scheduling social media posts at my job, when I found myself nervously staring down at my phone, impatiently waiting for a message from my mom. I couldn’t wait any longer.
“Did you find her?” I remember typing the words with shaky hands and quivering breaths.
My mom had called me minutes earlier to tell me that she couldn’t find my grandmother. She was supposed to be going to a doctor’s appointment, but she never arrived. This worried me because my grandmother has dementia, is over the age of 70, and drives like a maniac, so she really shouldn’t be driving anywhere.
But, I will tell you that there are only two things keeping me going: God and my family.
I try to remind myself on a daily basis that Jesus’ sacrifice on Calvary was one of the biggest headlines of His day. Jesus was a rebel. He went against the grain of society in the humblest and kindest way possible (except that time he literally flipped a table). His motivations were always pure and God-driven.
But Jesus still ended up on the cross. He still suffered and died for me and you. He was scared, too, judging by the fact that he began to sweat blood (Luke 22:24) in the garden before he was taken to be crucified.
According to the US National Library of Medicine, Hematohidrosis is the name for the condition Jesus suffered from. The condition is rare and causes humans to sweat blood. This can happen for a number of reasons, including excessive exertion and psychological factors (like high levels of stress).
Jesus taught me that it is OK to be scared, but giving your problems to God can help.
One of my favorite verses is 2 Timothy 1:7, which says “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”
The proof that this is now natural comes from Genesis. In Genesis 3, God goes looking for Adam in the garden after Adam and Eve eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.
“And the Lord God called unto Adam and said unto him, Where are thou? And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.” Genesis 3:9-10
Adam wasn’t afraid until he ate the fruit that Eve gave him from the tree. Eve was persuaded by the serpent, who many scholars believe to be the devil.
The verse in 2 Timothy reminds me that God is in control and God will always win, and it reminds me to talk a look at the power, love, and sound mind that God has given me, rather than harp on the worldly things I often tie myself up in.
Whether my grandfather passes sooner rather than later, or if he lives another five years, that verse from 2 Timothy will always remind me that I am a child of God, not of this world. Satan has no hold on me, no matter what he tries to hurl at me.
I’m praying that my anxiety doesn’t get to the point of sweating blood, but rather stops at “it is well, with my soul.” Have a great week everyone, and remember that you have a spirit of power, love, and a sound mind inside of you.
HOW TO GET TO HEAVEN
There is a common misconception that there are several ways to get to Heaven when you die. This isn't true. JESUS IS THE ONLY WAY TO HEAVEN.
God is a perfect being who designed each and every one of us. He is sinless, good, and perfect. However, after Eve ate that apple, sin was released into the world and, as a result, everyone was born into sin and everyone does wrong. Only those without sin can enter into Heaven. But don't worry, Jesus came down to Earth and paid your sin debt do you could go to Heaven. Jesus is our salvation and offers us a way to Heaven. A way to live with Him forever. Here is what you have to do: