1. Water and Blood.
John’s gospel informs the reader that Jesus was pierced by the Roman soldiers while on the cross. As a result blood and water gushed from his side. However, due to a lack of knowledge the early Christians took this as figurative (for example, as water representing purity) until contemporary medical science could provide insight. What medical science has found is that hypovolemic shock (which Jesus would have experienced during his final hours on the cross) causes fluid to gather in the sack around the heart and lungs. So when the soldier pierced Jesus’ side blood and water came pouring out. This well suggests that John picked up a tradition about Jesus that has a basis in concrete history.
2. Walking Trees.
Our gospels record Jesus healing many people from their ailments. In one case Jesus heals a blind man (Mark 8:24-25), however, the blind man’s vision remained blurry. He mistook people for walking trees, “I see people; they look like trees walking around.” This is an interesting detail. Dr. Alan Chow whose work is reported through the International Congress of Eye Research in Switzerland, states in one of his case studies that “People are not only seeing light and dark, some see faces, blades of grass, leaves on the trees.” (1)
It is certainly possible, though clearly not proven, that this may be what we have in Jesus’ episode with this blind man. There is a chance that this blind man hints at a detail that only modern medical science affirms.
3. Hypovolemic Shock.
Within Jesus’s passion he demonstrated vivid symptoms of hypovolemic shock. This is the heavy loss of blood volume (usually 10 to 20%) and blood circulation within the body (2). Symptoms include dizziness, fainting, nausea, and severe thirst. This is especially prevalent in Jesus’ final hours. For example, as he carried his own cross to Golgotha (John 19:17) he collapsed, and a man named Simon was forced to either carry the cross or help Jesus carry the cross the rest of way to the hill (Matthew 27:32–33; Mark 15:21–22; Luke 23:26). Our best knowledge points towards Jesus’ collapse being a result of low blood pressure, a result due to losing significant portions of blood from the flogging. Another indicator that Jesus suffered from hypovolemic shock was that he declared himself to be thirsty as he hung on the cross (John 19:28). This indicates his body’s desire to replenish fluids. These little details clearly have a ring of truth.
4. Sweating blood.
The night before Jesus Christ was crucified he is said to have prayed in the garden of Gethsemane. Luke informs us that Jesus’ sweat became like drops of blood, “And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly. Then His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground” (Luke 22:44).
Medical science reveals that the sweat glands are surrounded by tiny blood vessels. These vessels can constrict and then dilate to the point of rupture. If so then the blood will effuse out the sweat glands and produce blood droplets. This is a condition called Hematidrosis (3) and is brought on by extreme stress (4). This is consistent with what we know of Jesus and the victims of Roman crucifixion, namely that they experienced severe stress. This is not a detail that anyone could make up in a day and age where such knowledge was limited. This has therefore been believed to have happened to Jesus (5).
1. Alan Chow quoted by Roger Dobson in Robot Eye That Can Restore Lost Sight After 20 Years. Available.
2. Medical Dictionary. Hypovolemia. Available.
3. Tshifularo, M. 2014. “Blood otorrhea: blood stained sweaty ear discharges: hematohidrosis; four case series (2001-2013)” in American Journal of Otolaryngology 35 (2): p. 271–3.
4. Holoubek J. & Holoubek A. 1996. “Blood, Sweat and Fear: A Classification of Hematidrosis” in Journal of Medicine 27. p. 115-133.
5. Jerajani, H., Jaju, B., Phiske, M. & Lade, N. 2009. “Hematohidrosis – A rare clinical phenomenon” in Indian Journal of Dermatology. 54 (3). p. 290–292.