Without Blemish or Spot

MUCH has been written regarding the life, death, resurrection, and soon return of Christ of Galilee. Bruce Barton wrote The Man Nobody Knows, stressing the manliness of Christ. But little attention has been given to the perfect health that characterized Christ as our example. . .

-Chairman of the Environmental and Tropical Health Department of the School of Health at Loma Linda University at the time this article was written

MUCH has been written regarding the life, death, resurrection, and soon return of Christ of Galilee. Bruce Barton wrote The Man Nobody Knows, stressing the manliness of Christ. But little attention has been given to the perfect health that characterized Christ as our example.

Studies on the life of Christ frequently focus on His closing days in Jerusalem, when He experienced extreme suffering and subsequently collapsed under the weight of His own cross.

Does this picture of His temporary physical prostration lead us to visualize Christ as a human weakling, suffering the ill effects of sin and disease? If so, does our misconception of physical weakness cast doubt upon the spiritual strength of Christ? What was the nature of the physical fitness of the "lamb without blemish and without spot"?

Luke, the physician, testifies that "Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man" (Luke 2:52). That this includes a hearty and vigorous physical nature is indicated in the following comment:

As Jesus worked in childhood and youth, mind and body were developed. He did not use His physical powers recklessly, but in such a way as to keep them in health, that He might do the best work in every line. ---The Desire of Ages, p. 72.

As Christ matured He assisted His father, Joseph, as a carpenter. As power tools were unknown, one can appreciate the physical exertion necessary to follow that trade.

He learned a trade, and with His own hands worked in the carpenter's shop with Joseph. In the simple garb of a common laborer He walked the streets of the little town, going to and returning from His humble work. He did not employ His divine power to lessen His burdens or to lighten His toil. --Ibid.

While still at His carpenter's trade, He maintained His physical fitness by walking to a quiet-place, there to study nature and to pray.

Working at the carpenter's bench, bearing the burdens of home life, learning the lessons of obedience and toil, He found recreation amidst the scenes of nature, gathering knowledge as He sought to understand nature's mysteries. He studied the word of God, and His hours of greatest happiness were found when He could turn aside from the scene of His labors to go into the fields, to meditate in the quiet valleys, to hold communion with God on the mountainside or amid the trees of the forest. --The Ministry of Healing, p. 52.

This practice was carried over into the three and one-half years of His ministry. "All day He ministered to the throngs that came to Him, and at eventide, or in the early morning, He went away to the sanctuary of the mountains for communion with His Father." —Ibid., p. 55.

His earlier experiences prepared Him for the great wilderness trial which lay ahead. After His baptism, "Jesus returned from the Jordan, and for forty days was led by the Spirit up and down the wilderness and [was] tempted by the devil. All that time he had nothing to eat, and at the end of it he was famished" (Luke 4:1, 2, N.E.B.).*

The fasting experience clearly demonstrates the extent of Christ's physical strength and stamina. This was no ordinary fast in which the quantity of food was merely reduced. Jesus ate nothing while subjected to Satan's temptations. This denial produced severe physical and mental suffering and only a superior body could have endured such a test.

After the foe had departed, Jesus fell exhausted to the earth, with the pallor of death upon His face. The angels of heaven had watched the conflict, beholding their loved Commander as He passed through inexpressible suffering to make a way of escape for us. He had endured the test, greater than we shall ever be called to endure. The angels now ministered to the Son of God as He lay like one dying. He was strengthened with food, comforted with the message of His Father's love and the assurance that all heaven triumphed in His victory. --The Desire of Ages, p. 131.

A fast of forty days is not unrealistic even when viewed from the standpoint of modern scientific knowledge. A man of average weight has necessary food reserves to survive for two or even three months provided he has an adequate water supply and is either in a temperate climate or well-clothed. --Transactions American Clinical Climatological Association, vol. 79, 13-20, 1968.

Keys, in his book The Biology of Human Starvation, reports an experimental study of the effects of semistarvation in man. Thirty-six healthy male volunteers were provided with an average daily intake of 1,570 calories. (Normal daily energy needs for a 150- pound man would be approximately 2,800 calories.) All of the thirty-six subjects developed neurotic symptoms during the second month of semistarvation. That Christ could still think ration ally despite complete starvation for forty days is suggested by His ready reply to the first temptation, "It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God" (Luke 4:4).

Peter tells us that we were "not redeemed with corruptible things" but with the precious blood of "a lamb without blemish and without spot" (1 Peter 1:18, 19). Here is scriptural evidence that Christ was a perfect being, just as the sacrificial lamb had to be physically perfect.

The significance of Christ's exemplary physical condition as far as the health of Adventist workers is concerned is clearly indicated to us in The Ministry of Healing:

Never another toiled with such self-consuming zeal for the good of men. Yet His was a life of health. Physically as well as spiritually He was represented by the sacrificial lamb. ... In body as in soul He was an example of what God designed all humanity to be through obedience to His laws. --Page 51.

 


REFERENCES

* From The New English Bible, © The Delegates of the Oxford University Press and the Syndics of the Cambridge University Press 1970. Reprinted by permission.

 

 


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-Chairman of the Environmental and Tropical Health Department of the School of Health at Loma Linda University at the time this article was written

June 1973

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