Years ago, I spent a couple of years at Purdue University and some of the classes I took were in Philosophy. In one of those classes, the professor (who was an atheist) stood up in front of the class and said “Jesus didn’t die on the cross, and I can prove it.”
He said that when a person dies, their heart stops pumping and gravity takes over. Thus, (he said) if you were to die seated at your desk, the blood in your body would eventually settle around your waist.
Now the Bible tells us that when Jesus died, he was nailed to a cross and died there. But the Gospel of John says that when Jesus “died” a Roman soldier pierced his side… and blood and water came out. That proves (said the professor) that Jesus hadn’t died. If he had, the blood would not have been there.
So I went back to my dorm room and prayed.
I’d wanted to be a preacher one day, but my faith was still a little shaky.
I prayed: “God, You’ve got to answer this one. Because if You don’t I’m going to go sell insurance. I don’t want to commit myself to ministry if I can’t depend on Your Word to be true.”
For some reason, I didn’t bother to ask anyone for an answer to this challenge. But God was faithful and actually answered my prayer within the next month.
At that time I was in another Philosophy class (you do know Purdue is NOT a Bible college, don’t you?). The class had ended and a few students were gathered around the teacher’s desk. Thinking I might learn something interesting I walked up to the desk just in time to hear the teacher say:
“I just learned the most interesting thing this last weekend. Do you remember in the Bible where it says that Jesus died on the cross? (That got my attention). And do you remember where it says that a Roman soldier pierced His side and blood and water came out? (Now, he really had my attention).”
The teacher continued: “There’s a condition known as Cardiac Tamponade. What happens in cardiac tamponade is that – if a person’s body undergoes enough stress – the heart can literally burst. When the heart bursts in this way, the blood from the heart mixes with the fluid in a sac that surrounds the heart called the pericardium. If you were to pierce this sac what you’d see come out would look like blood and water.
Now that made sense for a couple of reasons.
If I cut your arm, what would come out? Blood. Not blood and water.
2ndly, the Bible tells us that Jesus carried all the sins of mankind to the cross, and that when He died it wasn’t from the stress of the torture of the cross. He literally gave up control of His body. Luke 23:46 says “Jesus called out with a loud voice, ‘Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.’ When he had said this, he breathed his last.”
Jesus gave up the control of His body, and when He did so, it would have been like snapping a rubber band. All the pain and sorrow from bearing the sins of mankind would have born on that mortal body without His divine presence… and it would make sense the heart would burst.
I was seriously impressed.
In fact, I was so impressed that when I went to Bible College the next year, I couldn’t wait to share this insight with my professors. But of course, Bible College professors are professors because they know much of this themselves. When I shared my story with one them, he said “Oh Jeff, it’s even better than that.”
He went on to explain, that when Jesus died on the cross, they put Him on the cross at 9 am and He died at 3 pm. Passover was a significant day of sacrifice and people would have been lined up around the block with their lambs for slaughter.
The first sacrifice of the day would have taken place at 9 am.
The last sacrifice would have been done at 3 pm.
And Jesus was on the cross from 9 til 3.
More than that, with all that sacrifice, there would have been a lot of blood. And the Jews of that day had developed a plan where they pumped water up from beneath the floor of the temple and washed down the altar, the utensils and the floor. And the liquid would have drained into a trench that carried out under the walls of the city into the Kidron Valley (which separates Jerusalem from the Garden of Gethsemane).
The banks of the Kidron are still red from the blood of the centuries of sacrifices of the Jews. Farmers would go down to those banks and carry away it’s mud to put on their fields because of the nutrients in the soil.
Now, if you’d been sitting outside Jerusalem a little after 3 pm on the Passover Jesus died…what do you think you’d have seen coming out of the pipes that drained into the valley?
Blood and water.
That’s great stuff!
If I’d have been God I’d have had all kinds of neon signs pointing to this.
At the very least, I’d have included a book in the Bible explaining how important this was.
But, God didn’t do that.
It’s almost like He left this story languish there as a trap for unwitting atheists.
The only Gospel that records this incident is the Gospel of John… and John isn’t impressed with it. All John wanted to prove was that Jesus had died without having one of His bones broken (because a sacrifice was not acceptable to God if it’s bones were broken). The Gospel only records the “blood and water” incident to prove Jesus was dead.
And that’s it.
End of story.
So, I shared this with my atheist friend… and he never responded again.
Indeed, what could he have said?
That story effectively dealt with his atheism in a way he couldn’t argue with.
Now, I have to admit, that’s a cool story.
But – to God – your story is just as cool.
Your story may be exactly the thing the person who approaches you needs to hear to change their lives. You need to figure out what your story is, and then be prepared to share it with a person who needs Jesus.
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