How Another Doctor Challenged My Faith

surgeon hospital pay

“Hey, so I understand you go to church and all that stuff…”

“Do you really believe that there is a God who created the universe?”

“How do you reconcile all your years of studying science and medicine with your faith?”

These were the blunt question, and sometimes these are the conversations in the operating room (when the situation permits).

My colleague is a bright physician of Jewish descend who sometimes attends synagogue for social reasons because deep down he does not believe in God. So we proceeded to discuss creationism vs. evolution.  I went to the heart of the matter showing him problems in the theory of evolution, particularly relating to speciation. We discussed the Big Bang, and I pointed out problems there including the concept of the expanding and contracting universe necessary for the Big Bang theory; also how the issue of time complicated the matter. After all, the Big Bang does not explain how the universe came to be, it merely places the problem into a different context.

As a naturalist, his only comeback was that science has not yet figured it out.

After a while the Holy Spirit made me realize that this is not the way to handle an apology for the Christian faith.

Next I went to the real heart of the matter.


Because in that name there is power.

As a Jewish man, he was well acquainted with the Davidic kingdom. It was a perfect opportunity to ask him how would he explain the Messianic prophecy of Psalm 22 coming true in the Person of Jesus Christ.  Here we have David under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit writing one of the most specific prophecies about Christ which came true 1000 years later when Christ was crucified.

“He trusts in the LORD,” they say, “let the LORD rescue him. Let him deliver him, since he delights in him.” (Ps 22:8)

Evangelists Matthew accounts this exact accusation at the cross by the priests and scribes:

“He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he desires him” (Matt 27:43)

Again in Psalm 22:

“All my bones are on display; people stare and gloat over me. They divide my clothes among them and cast lots for my garment.” (Ps 22:17-18)

Apostle John accounts this exact detail at the cross:

“When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his garments and divided them into four parts, one part for each soldier; also his tunic. But the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom, so they said to one another, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see whose it shall be.” (John 19:23-24)

I presented this prophecy to my friend including the historical account of its fulfillment.  There was no concept of crucifixion at the time of David, no concept of casting lots of for the victims clothing by the ones crucifying the victim. I asked him, how do you explain such accurate description of the passion of Jesus Christ  as the Messiah written by David 1000 years before it happened?

He was at least somewhat impressed by this outrageous information. He promised to go home and read the Scripture I quoted.

May the Holy Spirit continue his work here.

The Martyrdom of Apostle Peter

There is considerable evidence, biblical and extra-biblical, that apostle Peter was martyred for his Christian faith.

Jesus told Peter regarding his death in John 21:18-19:

“18 Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.” 19 (This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.)”

This is one of the passages in the Bible which demonstrates that martyrdom for faith in God is an act of glorification of God.  If this brief conversation at the end of John’s gospel was the only one referencing Peter’s martyrdom, we would still be believe in the martyrdom of Peter because it is found in the Bible.

But there are also a number of non-canonical and historical accounts which mention Peter’s execution.

Peter was approximately 65 years old when he died in Rome, probably in 64 AD, possibly during the Neronian persecution in the months that followed the Great Fire of Rome.

Clement of Rome (d. 101 AD) who was likely ordained pastor (bishop/pope) by Peter wrote in his Letter to the Corinthians:

“Let us take the noble examples of our own generation. Through jealousy and envy the greatest and most just pillars of the Church were persecuted, and came even unto death… Peter, through unjust envy, endured not one or two but many labours, and at last, having delivered his testimony, departed unto the place of glory due to him.

Christian writer Tertullian (160–c. 225 AD) wrote:

“Since, moreover, you are close upon Italy, you have Rome, from which there comes even into our own hands the very authority (of apostles themselves). How happy is its church, on which apostles poured forth all their doctrine along with their blood; where Peter endures a passion like his Lord’s

Origen (185 – 254 AD) wrote in Eusebius, Church History III.1:

“Peter was crucified at Rome with his head downwards, as he himself had desired to suffer.”

According to this account, Peter did not deem himself worthy to die in the same manner as his Savior, but willingly endured an upside down crucifixion.

How did Peter end up in Rome during Nero’s persecution?

Apocryphal writings and church tradition say that Peter saw Jesus in a vision and Peter inquired “where are you going, Master?” to which Jesus answered “I am going to Rome to be crucified, again.”  Tradition says this is when Peter made the decision to go back to Rome and accept martyrdom.

We will look at the martyrdom and persecution of other apostles in upcoming posts.

to be continued…

Medical Perspective on Christ’s Death

It is commonly taught that the victim of crucifixion would die from asphyxiation.  Many of those crucified would live three or more days before their neck muscles would no longer be able to support the 12 lbs (5.5 kg) weight of their head.  Airway obstruction subsequently would set in and the victim would suffocate to death.

Such a patho-physiologic event is sometimes ascribed to the death of Jesus.

However, biblical narrative and medical correlation would indicate that Jesus’s cause of death was multifactorial, and that He died suddenly from an acute internal event and not suffocation.

But first let us review some of Christ’s stresses and injuries that set up his unusually quick death on the cross.

1. Less than 18 hours before his death, the physician and evangelist Luke tells us that Jesus was in extreme physical and psychological anguish: “being in an agony, He prayed more earnestly; and His sweat became like great drops of blood.” (Luke 22:44)  Luke may be referring to the phenomenon of hemohydrosis where sweat glands may bleed under extreme stress, just like in the case of coagulation disorders.  This may be indicative of the extreme level of stress the Savior was under as He was approaching the time of God’s wrath being poured on Him.

2. Jesus probably walked 2-3 miles between various places (trials and questioning) in the 12 hours prior to crucifixion, likely without hydration.

3. Jesus received blows to the face and His body as part of being mocked (Luke 22:63-65).

4. Friday morning before being delivered to be crucified, Jesus was severely flogged (John 19:1). This was a Roman judicial penalty where the victim was beat with a multi-lashed whip containing embedded pieces of bone and metal.  As the blows landed on Jesus’s back and thighs, the whip ripped into skin, subcutaneous tissue and muscle, tearing blood vessels and nerves in the process.  This particular event weakened the Savior tremendously due to blood loss and severe pain.  Exposing His tissues on a cold early morning also initiated hypothermia which led to coagulation defects and further loss of blood.

5. The severe beating and blood loss likely led to orthostatic hypotension (low blood pressure when standing) as Jesus was unable to carry the crossbar of the cross (75-100 lbs) and was forced to walk or perhaps drag Himself on Via Dolorosa.

6. At this point, even before crucifixion, Jesus was in critical medical condition.  An older man with medical issues would have died by now.  Even by modern medical standards, a 33-year-old healthy man would likely have to be taken to the operating room for wound debriment, tissue reconstruction, fluid resuscitation, warming, and blood transfusion.  All this followed by a long recovery in the intensive care unit with possible complications of infection and kidney failure.

Up to this point Jesus suffered severe trauma and was in dire need of resuscitation.  In this critical state He is delivered up for crucifixion.

It was the custom for nails to be driven in the hands (wrists) and legs of the victim during crucifixion which compounded blood loss.  In the case of Jesus, the hemorrhage became critical as His wounded back was pressing and rubbing against the tree.  As a trauma victim who sustained significant hemorrhage, Jesus became very thirsty and cried: “I thirst.”  They offered Him an analgesic consisting of wine and myrrh, but He refused.

This brings us to the climatic event.  What exactly caused Jesus’s death?

Biblical narrative demonstrates that Jesus had a sudden death, and not a prolonged period of suffocation as was the case in most crucifixions.  All four Gospels present Jesus as crying out with a loud voice (in the case of John, He says: “It is finished”) and immediately dies.  This is unlikely to be a death from asphyxiation.

There is no evidence in the narrative of the Gospels that in the short time Jesus was on the cross (less than 6 hours) He was suffocating.  On the contrary, despite His weakened state, we see Him conversing with various people while on the cross.  This is strong evidence that He was able to maintain a patent airway up until His last breath!

It is more likely that Jesus died of a sudden internal catastrophe. The highest ranking possibility is a lethal arrhythmia (abnormal heart rhythm) potentially caused by electrolyte disturbances from severe dehydration and hemorrhage.

Others have postulated a tension hemothorax (accumulation of blood around one lung) which led to an acute drop in blood pressure and immediate death.  This diagnosis may be supported by the blood that flowed from the Savior’s side after His spearing.  Red blood flowed from His side (settled red cells), followed by serum (clear fluid that may look like water) which is found at the top of any settled blood sample that does not circulate.

Other possibilities include a trauma-induced tear in one of the atria of the heart leading to cardiac tamponade (blood around the heart), or perhaps a sudden pneumothorax (dropped lung).

All of the above descriptions would correlate well with the Gospel accounts of a sudden death after what appeared to be a loud statement by Jesus.  A prolonged dying process by suffocation can thus almost be ruled out.

Whatever the exact pathologic event was that caused the Savior to give His last breath, one thing remains certain.

He died with certainty.

And this is important because His death made His resurrection a truly miraculous event, the greatest event in the history of the universe to date!

For a JAMA article on the scourging and crucifixion of Jesus, click here

Jesus Died Just Like a Lamb – Guest Post, Tibi Fodor

Delight in Truth friend and follower Tibi Fodor recounts a heartbreaking experience after witnessing the slaughter of a lamb as a child, and contrasts it with the slaughter of a pig.  Tibi equates the submission of the lamb to its demise in the way the Lamb of God submitted to the crushing will of the Father:

The living word of God, both in the Old and New Testament, calls the Son of God, Jesus Christ, a lamb (John 1:29, John 1:36) and also compares Him to a sacrificial lamb (Isaiah 53:7).

As a young kid I witnessed the slaughter of pigs and a lamb – the latter of which I don’t want to see again.

As was often the custom in Romania in the rural countryside, in the cold winter days prior to Christmas, farmers would slaughter the farm-grown pigs in preparation for the holidays. And if the family needed an expert, my dad was the man. The general population did not have guns in communist Romania, so the goal was to slaughter the pig in a way that would cause the animal to die quickly: a knife with a long, well-sharpened blade, a well-aimed and decisive cut would do the job.

Nobody enjoyed the slaughter of the pig, but it was quite something to watch, and with a one-eyed and somewhat hesitant look, I peeked at the event when I was about 6 years old. The pig, I was told, was well over 120 kilograms (about 250 pounds). Once lured by my grandma to the slaughtering place (she had fed the pig daily and, sadly, the animal seemed to “trust” her), my dad and his brothers quickly pinned the pig down on its side with their cumulative body weight. The screams of the fighting animal quickly became choked by brightly colored red blood; white snow became a puddle of red and the pig slowly but surely seemed to give its last breath.

The pig had the strength to “fight” and “will” to resist until its last breath, but the slaughter of a lamb is not anything like the slaughter of a pig – or any other animal. It’s something I don’t want to see again.

The white and curly lamb was held not by many, but only by my dad. It didn’t have to be lured, but followed faithfully to its place of slaughter. There were no animal screams when the cut was made, but only an eerie silence. The lamb never fought, never resisted. What was once a pure, milky-white coat was now tainted with red.

The lamb had peacefully surrendered to the slaughter. While holding the lifeless, limp body, my dad said he does not want to do this again – and as far as I know, that was the only time he had slaughtered a lamb.

What a difference between the sacrifices of these two farm animals!

Our savior, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, had surrendered his life to the will of God and to the agonizing death of the crucifixion just like a lamb!

If the sight of the slaughter of an innocent lamb kindles emotions of sorrow, how much more must my heart ache for the suffering of my Christ? Jesus was without blame, without sin, yet he was chosen to die for my sins before the creation of the world.

If I am to follow my Christ, the Son of God, I must be like a lamb and surrender not to the will of mankind, but to the will of my heavenly Father, my God – just as the Lamb of God had done.

image credit

The Importance of Jesus’s Predictions

› He foresaw that his death would be by crucifixion (John 3:14, 12:32).

› He predicted that the disciples would find a unridden colt when they entered the town (Luke 19:30).

› When the disciples entered Jerusalem that last Thursday, he predicted they would meet a man with the water pitcher who would have a room for them to
meet in (Luke 22:10).

› After three years of waiting, he knew the exact hour of his departure out of the world (John 13:1).

› Jesus knew that he would be betrayed, and who would betray him, and when it would happen (John 6:64, 13:1; Matthew 26:2, 21).

› He knew and predicted the fact and the time of Peter’s three denials (Matthew 26:34).

› Jesus predicted that the disciples would all fall away and be scattered (Matthew 26:31; John 16:32; Zechariah 13:7).

› Jesus prophesied that he would be “lifted up from the earth” (John 12:32). That is, he would not be stoned but crucified—not by Jews but by Romans.

So the decisions of Pilate and the Jews of how to dispose of him were a fulfillment of his prediction.  He makes all these predictions, according to John 13:19, so that we would believe he is God, that what he says about himself is true.

In other words, Jesus is saying, “If you are struggling to believe that I am the promised Messiah, that I am the one who was in the beginning with God and was God (John 1:1), that I am the divine Son of God, who can forgive all your sins and give you eternal life and guide you on the path to heaven, then I want to help you believe. And one of the ways I am going to help you have well grounded faith is by telling you what is going to happen to me before it happens, so that when it happens, you will have good reason to believe in me.”

from Love to the Uttermost by John Piper