“Jesus suffered the worst so we could have the best.”
Blood donations have long been a spiritual experience for me. While a bag fills with my blood, I chat up the technician who tells me how many lives my bit of blood might save this time. As I munch on cookies and apple juice afterwards, I ponder the biblical statement that life is in the blood and how I’m identifying with Jesus who gave his life-blood for the sins of the world.
Then I volunteered to give plasma.
From the moment the technician inserted the needle into my arm, I sensed all was not right. I belong to the two-gallon club of whole blood donors; I knew it shouldn’t hurt that much. But the technician told me to not move around so much, so I lay still and endured the pain. After all, this was my first plasma donation, what did I know? Yet near the end of the process, the poorly placed needle blew, gushing saline and my own blood all over me.
“We have a problem,” I yelled to the technician across the room.
He kept his head lowered as he continued to make an adjustment to the machine attached to another donor. “Just a minute.”
“No just a minute.” I’m never that assertive. “I need help now.” Three technicians materialized at my side, stopping the flow and cleaning me up. They and I tried to minimize what had happened and they told me I hadn’t lost much, so “just stay put for a few minutes” and then I could leave.
In the car, I chattered about my experience to my husband who suggested we go out to eat. But as my food arrived, lights and sounds grew dim, and the world began to fade. It was then that I took Jesus’ sacrifice more seriously.
What Jesus did
Before, when I’ve donated blood, everything was so sanitized and pain free. I suffered little. I sacrificed only my time. I got to dine out afterwards and lay around the rest of the evening. Now, I felt what it was like to literally have the life start to ebb out of me. THIS is what Jesus must have felt, Life faded and he grew weaker until there was nothing left.
Jesus gave till it hurt and then hurt some more. Jesus gave till there was nothing more to give. He gave it all.
And He knew. He knew that was going to happen. He did it anyway, voluntarily. He willingly chose to go the distance, losing his life-blood till it resulted in death. And He endured the suffering that went along with it. Never again could I take the cup of Communion without reliving what it felt like to give up life and realizing that was the cost Jesus paid.
I still have no clue what Jesus went through.
As his life-blood flowed out, the sins of the world flowed in, and he took upon himself the burden, guilt, and incrimination for all the ways the world had gone bad. For three hours that Friday when Jesus hung on the cross, the earth plunged into darkness. It symbolized how the God of light had separated Himself from the man on the cross whose body now contained all the sins ever committed and ever to be committed. No wonder Jesus cried out, “Why have You forsaken me?”
Why? Because Jesus now represented sin and sin cannot coexist in the presence of a holy God.
Why else? Why did God forsake Jesus? So He wouldn’t have to forsake us. So He could give us a chance to come back to Him and never fear the loss of life again.
Blood donation centers try to make a donor as comfortable as possible. At one point, Jesus was offered the dignity of a draught that would ease the pain. But Jesus refused the drink. He chose to have the full experience of pain, slow loss of life, and rejection from those He so wanted to love back to Himself. He suffered the worst so we could have the best.
Jesus went the distance because He loves you and me. He would do whatever it took, even death itself, to bring us back into fellowship with the Father. He went through the worst of horrible deaths for me. And for you.
I hate to admit it, but I’m not sure I want to repeat my experience of plasma donation. And that doubles the mind-blowing realization that Jesus knew beforehand the pain, suffering, and yucky feeling of loss of blood he would suffer, and he proceeded to do it anyway.
May we never forget. May all of us forever be grateful for the ordeal Jesus went through for us.