Thursday, April 5, 2012

Seeing Jesus in the Rock (the Spear in His Side)

KIM UPDATE: We're back in the hospital today for Round 5. Since Kim is officially "in remission" and finishing the last two rounds is fairly basic we've moved back to NWCH which makes commuting, family visits, etc much easier. We're so thankful for the great care we got at U of C but it is nice to be back closer to home. Please pray for Kim as she administers her last two "knockout punches". There's still a lot of work to do. Please continue to pray for Andrew & Connor as well if you would. 
But when they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water.  -John 19:33-34

After Kim was admitted to the ER on January 7th the most urgent issue that needed to be addressed was not the massive cancer tumor they found in her chest - it was her "pericardial effusion". This is just a fancy medical term for the massive fluid build-up that had formed around her heart. My dad just happened to be visiting from St. Louis the weekend she was admitted and since he was a doctor, the oncologist allowed him (and me) to see the actual CT scan of her chest. It took my breath away. At first glance her heart appeared to be about 2 or 3 times the normal size pushing her lung off to the side but the oncologist pointed out that this was just the sac around her heart filled with fluid that we were seeing.

Apparently, if the heart is under significant duress one of it's defense mechanisms is to allow fluid to build up around it so it can protect the body's most vital organ. In Kim's case the tumor in her chest had grown so large (7x4 cm) that it was irritating her heart lining - leading to this fluid-buildup. Despite the fact that it was Sunday morning, the surgical team immediately put in a window (hole incision) to drain the fluid because the pressure had become so great that it was beginning to compromise her heart's ability to function. Believe it or not they drained the equivalent of a wine bottle full of water and blood.

Ironically, this was the exact same medical condition that Jesus had on the cross - a perciardial effusion. The great physical strain of the crucifixion no doubt led to this but I can't help thinking more figuratively about the unfathomable pain Jesus endured in his own heart in bearing our sin. It must have crushed him in every way that a heart can be crushed. And much like Kim, the fluid had built up around Jesus' heart with such great pressure that when the Roman soldier pierced his side (and the pericardial sac) a "sudden flow of blood and water" gushed out.

I remember watching this exact scene in Mel Gibson's, "The Passion of the Christ". What is forever engrained in my mind is that upon piercing Jesus' side the soldier does not move away from the blood and water spewing out on him - instead he just stands there and continues to look up - as if he welcomes it and is allowing it to wash him clean. What directorial genius.

If you recall, about 1,400 years before Jesus appears in the New Testament, Moses has just led the Israelites out of Egypt and they are in the wilderness on the verge of dying of thirst. The people complain to Moses, and Moses cries out to the Lord and God has very specific instructions for Moses.
"Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock at Horeb, and you shall strike the rock, and water shall come out of it, and the people will drink." And Moses did so..." -Exodus 17:6
They end up naming that place "Massah" because they tested God by saying, "Is the Lord among us or not?"

Now fast forward to Numbers 20. The Israelites have been in the wilderness for some time now and they again find themselves thirsty and in desperate need of water. As if history is repeating itself, they complain to Moses, Moses prays to the Lord, and God instructs, however this time His instructions are slightly different:

"Take the staff and assemble the congregation, you and Aaron your brother, and tell the rock before their eyes to yield its water. So you shall bring water out of the rock for them and give drink to the congregation..." -Numbers 20:8
This is very easy to miss, but the first time God specifically instructs Moses to strike the rock. This time He only tells him to speak to the rock. Well, Moses (perhaps in his frustration with the people) goes down and ends up striking the rock instead of following God's instruction. For this seemingly simple no-no God levies a huge punishment on Moses. He tells him because he did this he cannot lead the people he had been tirelessly serving into the promised land but that he would die upon their arrival there. For the longest time I thought Moses got a really raw deal. I mean 40 years of leading a bunch of ingrates through a hot desert and for one little mistake he gets this?  What is going on?
"They all ate the same spiritual food, and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ." -1 Corinthians 10:3-4
The apostle Paul tells us what's going on. It's quite clear after Jesus enters the picture. The Rock that followed the Israelites around the desert was actually a type (a physical pattern or picture of a spiritual reality) of Jesus - it was the "Rock of Ages". Little did they know what they were saying when they grumbled, "Is the Lord among us or not?" The answer is a resounding "YES!". In effect, Jesus was there 1,400 years before he incarnates as the Son of Man. He was pouring forth life-giving water centuries before he would say with his own mouth that he is the source of "living water" which leads to "eternal life". (John 4 & 7)

In light of this, it now becomes more clear why God was not happy with Moses striking the Rock the second time it appears in the desert. In Jesus' first coming the Rock is indeed struck. However, in his second coming he will not be struck - the work of the cross is finished and complete. In his return, he will be coming back for his own and to judge the world. Moses, in his disobedience and sin, ruined this picture. God levied the consequence. But the truth still remains. Jesus did come once, and he was indeed struck. And he's coming again but not to be struck - but to take his children home.

This Good Friday may we remember why he was struck (for our sins). This Easter Sunday may we remember why he will return (for his own).

In His Grace,

Peter & Kim


  1. Praying for full KO!!! No problem! We are still rejoicing in how great our God is!

  2. Peter,
    Thanks for the GREAT insight in this post. I like you always wondered why the punishment for Moses was so hard. Thank you for continuing to teach and pour into your readers in the midst of your greatest trial!

  3. Peter and Kim I came across your blog from the start through someones tweet. I started reading it on a Sunday right before church and I was bawling, as I have with many other of your posts. I'm sure you've heard how your journey has ministered to so many in various trials and valleys.i know that y'all have most definitely done so for
    me. Ive both cried and rejoiced in seeing Jesus in everything that has transpired throughout this sovereign journey.I have experienced His glory through all His faithful promises fulfilled to your family. Your writing is beautiful. I feel like we are having a personal conversation. Today's post was very humbling. Your explanation of the excruciating pain Christ endured for me because of His infinite love is just unfathomable to me. The thought that He died for ME, unworthy me just crumbles me. I can not begin to imagine what Kim and your family have experienced, but in a weird way I guess I kind of covet that she has in a very sweet way experienced the suffering of Our Christ and Redeemer. What a gift. I continue to hold You, Kim and
    your children in my prayers. Thank you for sharing your life, heart and love.

    1. Thank you friend, for your kind words and for your prayers!