The Crimson Worm

Jesus is a worm.

Psalm 22:6: “But I am a worm, and no man; A reproach of men, and despised by the people.”

The Hebrew word for worm here is tola’ath. This is the crimson worm that was very common to the region of old Israel and was used in the dyeing of garments to scarlet for the priesthood and the wealthy. It is somewhat round in shape and often mistaken for a berry. The life cycle of the tola’ath is just amazing.

When the crimson worm is prepared to reproduce offspring (which she does only once in her life) she attaches herself rigidly to a tree or a wooden fence post in such a way that she can never be removed without tearing her body completely apart. And when her young ones arrive, they feed upon the LIVING body of the mother – a decidedly painful sacrifice. Then, when the young are able to survive apart from the mother, she dies. As she dies, she exudes a crimson gel which not only stains the tree, but her young ones as well. Thus they are colored by the mother’s scarlet dye and remain so for the remainder of their lives. For the next three days the worm can be scraped from the tree and the crimson gel can be used to make a dye – the same dye used in the tabernacle, the priest’s belts, and by the upper class. On the fourth day, the uncollected gel is no longer crimson, but has turned into a white wax and is used to make shellac, a preservative of wood. Also, the crushed tola’ath has natural antibacterial properties and was used to make medicine to make the heart beat smoothly.

When Jesus said, “I am a worm” He was not saying, “I am a nobody.” He was saying, “I am a tola’ath. I will allow myself to be attached to a piece of wood. I will give my life for my children. I will bleed crimson and die so that they may live. My blood will cover them and take them from spiritual poverty to spiritual aristocracy. I will be crushed, but my blood will heal their hearts. My sacrifice will remove the dark stain of sin and forever preserve them, making them white as snow.

Isaiah 1:18: “‘Come now, and let us reason together,’ says the Lord,’Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool.’”

-by Pastor Bojan Jancic