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  • Writer's pictureKristina Trott

The gospel in the crimson worm

During the 2020 devastating Australian bushfires, it was commonly reported that nesting birds chose to be incinerated on their nests rather than fly away to safety. The mothering instinct is so strong in different animals that self-preservation is secondary to the protection of their offspring.

It’s rather like what Jesus has done for us. He was reproached by man and disregarded His own life, giving it for sinners so that we might live.

Jesus referred to Himself as a specific type of worm that was common in the Middle East and used for making scarlet dye: a ”towla’at”, a crimson worm. “But I am a worm, and no man; A reproach of men, and despised by the people” (Psa. 22:6 NKJV). This wasn’t a proclamation of self-pity but rather a powerful statement that He was the Messiah who would give His life in selflessness for His future offspring.

The worm, Kermes vermilio, is like those nesting birds who wouldn’t leave their offspring, no matter what. Only once in her life the female worm permanently attaches herself to a tree trunk, making a hard crimson shell over her body and looking rather like a pea. She deposits eggs underneath her protective body. When the eggs hatch the larvae feed off the body of their mother and by the time the baby worms can fend for themselves, the mother dies. As she dies, a crimson fluid stains her body and the surrounding wood and it was from the dead bodies of the female worms that ancient dye makers extracted their dyes[1].

So here we have Jesus declaring that His shed body on the tree would provide the means whereby many children could be brought to life. Jesus willingly shed His precious blood so that many sons could be brought to glory (Heb. 2:10). How wonderful was our Saviour!

“Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief. When You make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, And the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in His hand” (Isa. 53:10 NKJV).

[1] Henry Morris. Biblical Basis for Modern Science, Baker Book House, 1985, p. 73

Please note: the image used is not that of the Biblical crimson worm.

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