The Crimson Worm

Psalm 22:6-7, “But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by everyone, despised by the people. All who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads.”

“But I am a worm…”

Today let’s talk about worms. Now this may not be considered a fact, but it is a strong opinion, worms are ugly creatures.

Okay, maybe not to other worms, but for some of us they are just wiggly, squirmy and slimy. Of course, there is a place for them. God does use worms to break up the dirt and even fertilize it. They are the farmer’s and the fisherman’s friend. But as far as beauty goes, they fall into the category of “not so much.”

And there is one in Israel that doesn’t even come up to the lowly worm’s standard of beauty. Even for a worm this one is ugly. In fact, it barely looks like a worm. It looks more like a disgusting growth on a tree. But ugly or not this worm has a big job and an enormous purpose.

And this is the worm referred to in this verse. I’m going to give you the Hebrew name. It is called the tola’at shani. It’s okay if you don’t know how to pronounce it. It’s Hebrew. In English we would say it is the crimson worm.

It is from this ugly little worm that the priests got the red dye for the cloth in God’s Holy Temple. I told you it was a big job.

But what is even more amazing is a picture this little worm paints with its life.

When the mom worm gets ready to lay her eggs, she climbs up onto a tree and attaches herself so firmly to the tree that to pull her off would rip and tear her little worm body.

She lays her eggs and when those baby worms hatch they have a choice. They can wander away from her or they can begin to feed on her body. That sounds pretty gross, but it is also incredibly amazing. This mother worm loves her babies so much that she is willing to die so that they can live.

As they are feeding she releases a red dye, her blood, and it covers her babies. They are stained with her red blood for the rest of their lives. It never fades. It never washes away.

After three days, the mother worm curls up into a heart shape and her body that now looks almost like wax falls to the ground like a flake of snow.

This ugly, homely little worm paints a beautiful picture.

The Bible tells us in Psalm 22 about the crucifixion when Jesus would die on the cross. This Psalm says that the Messiah, Jesus, would actually say that He was the tola’at shani. Like the worm, the Bible tells us that Jesus wasn’t beautiful. Isaiah 53 says that there was nothing in His appearance to attract us to Him. Like the crimson worm, on the cross Jesus would be attached so firmly, that to pull Him off would rip His body. And of course, Jesus died and gave His life so that all of His children could live.

We have a choice.

We can wander away or make the decision to receive Him.

Just like those tiny worms need their mother’s flesh to have life, we need to receive the Lord Jesus in order to have life. And just like those baby worms are permanently marked by their mother’s blood, Jesus covers us with His blood and it is never washed away and it never fades or perishes.

John 6:53-54 says, “Jesus said to them, ‘Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.’”

Okay, that is a confusing verse. It sounds like we need to take a bite out of Jesus leg or something. That isn’t what Jesus was saying. When we eat something, it becomes a part of us. When we say “Yes” to Jesus He becomes a real part of us. He was telling us to say “Yes” to Him, to invite Him into our lives. Then we would be like those baby worms. We feed on His flesh by studying His Word and praying.

Also Psalm 22:14, “I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint. My heart has turned to wax; it has melted within me.” Jesus’s heart was melted like wax, just like our ugly little worm.

Isn’t that amazing? Even tiny things like ugly red worms can be powerful pictures and provide amazing proof that the Bible really is the Word of God.

And here is another absolutely amazing thought. If God can use a tiny ugly worm to point people to Jesus, just think what He can do with YOU!

Father, You have chosen the lofty and the lowly things to illustrate truth. The heavens declare Your glory, but so do little worms. Give us eyes to see the glorious in all that You have created.


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