"Really, Truly Dead"
April 10, 2008
But when they came to Jesus and saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs. But one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water. John 19: 33-34
All that could be done for Zach Dunlap had been done.
After Zach's all-terrain vehicle accident, the doctors had monitored his brain activity. Seeing nothing, the doctors declared Zach dead and asked the family to approve the taking of his organs so they might be transplanted into others.
After the family had agreed, they stopped in Zach's room to express their final farewells. As a last test, a knife was scraped across Zach's foot and he moved. Yes, Zach who had been pronounced "dead," was quite alive.
Today, Zach has been released from the hospital and says for a dead man he is feeling 'pretty good." In case you're wondering, he does confess to harboring a bit of bitterness toward the physician who pronounced him "dead." Although he was unable to move or say anything, Zach says he heard everything that had been said about him.
A great many people, reading Zach's story carried last week by the Associated Press, would say, "Ah, ha! If today's modern tools and technology can't always determine if a person is alive or dead, how can we be sure Jesus really died on the cross? Maybe He was in bad shape like Zach. Maybe He was even taken down from the cross-alive. May be He never really rose."
This is why we should be thankful that the Holy Spirit anticipated our contemporary questions. That's why He inspired John to write, "one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear and at once there came out blood and water." That last part, about blood and water coming out describes a medical condition that only happens when the heavier parts of the blood have been separated from the lighter parts.
Two thousand years ago, John described a condition modern medicine tells us only occurs when a person has been dead for a period of time. It does not happen when a person has fainted, is in a coma, or is unresponsive.
In short, the stab of a spear and not the light touch of a knife blade shows to any who will look, Jesus died on Calvary's cross, and a resurrected Christ emerged from the borrowed tomb.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, Your holy Word assures us that You have suffered and died. Now, as our risen Savior, You send Your Holy Spirit who shows us the Word that contains the truth that gives us eternal life. May we share that truth with a world that still delights in denying Christ crucified and risen. In Your Name. Amen.
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries