The fishing net was heavy—could we have caught a lot of fish? My students and I were on a scientific work boat on the Chesapeake Bay and trawling for fish for scientific studies. As the net came up with various kinds of wriggling and squirming fish, their scales glistening in the morning sun, there was this one dark creature at the bottom of the net! No wonder it was so heavy! What could it be? The students drew closer to the net, curious to see this strange creature, many of whom had never seen it before. It had a hard shell, a long spiny protuberance for a tail, and ten walking legs. There were two more small appendages close to the mouth. We had caught a horseshoe crab!

Horseshoe crabs are interesting creatures. They are found in coastal areas in the Northeastern United States, with the largest populations on Delaware Bay. Something amazing happens from May to early June. The crabs swim to the beaches in hordes to lay and bury about 4000 eggs each. Not all the eggs survive to adulthood. Shorebirds swoop down to devour the eggs. As this nature phenomenon happens, many of the horseshoe crabs are caught and brought to laboratories where scientists extract their blue blood for medical purposes.

Horseshoe blood has an enzyme called limulus amebocyte lysate (LAL) that thickens or coagulates when it is in the presence of bacterial toxins. Because of this unusual property, biomedical companies use the blood to test for bacterial contamination of vaccines, medicines, and medical equipment to keep these safe for people. Horseshoe blood is so valuable that it costs $60,000 a gallon. Horseshoe blood is extracted by inserting a needle into the heart and draining about a third of its blood. The crabs are then released back to the ocean, but many crabs die, and some females do not reproduce again.1

Just as the horseshoe blood has saved countless lives by finding toxins that could harm or kill us, Jesus’ blood purifies us from sin. Many crabs sacrificed their lives for medicine. Jesus shed his blood and died on the cross for our eternal salvation. His blood redeems us from the taint of sin and the sting of death.

“For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect” (1 Peter 1:18-19 NIV).

Call to Action: Thank Jesus for His Sacrifice

Dear Jesus, thank you for your ultimate sacrifice for our salvation. Your blood cleanses us from our sin and guarantees us eternal life. Help us to realize how great your sacrifice is for each one of us. I love you, Jesus, for loving me enough to shed your blood for me.

All Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

  1. American Oceans. “The Many Ways Horseshoe Crab Blood Will Amaze You.” Accessed October 16, 2023.

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