We have a vivid recollection of an emergency call to see a man, the victim of a ghastly accident. One minute he was the picture of health; two minutes later he was dead, completely exsanguinated by a laceration of his aorta.
A massive hemorrhage always presents a problem of the first magnitude for a physician, and where such a hemorrhage continues death invariably ensues, showing so clearly the scriptural truth that “the life is in the blood.”
What then is the relationship of the blood of the Son of God, shed on Calvary, to God’s plan of redemption?
To some even the suggestion of our Lord’s shed blood brings the retort that, “This is a slaughterhouse religion, a concept of God which the modern mind cannot countenance.” The writer has heard this remark and it sends a chill down his spine. We are reminded of Hebrews 10:28: “He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy [ordinary] thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?”
It is not for man to question the blood atonement but humbly to accept this mysterious evidence of God’s love.
What does the Bible have to say about blood in general, and about the shed blood of Christ? The statements are so overwhelming that we can but bow and worship.
In Genesis 9:4 and Leviticus 17:11, 14 we are told categorically that life is in the blood. A person may be a perfect specimen but deprived of blood he dies.
The relationship between the blood and life carries over into the spiritual realm. To put it as bluntly as we can: Without the redeeming blood of Christ, blood shed for the remission of sins, there can be no spiritual life. This does not mean that new Christians must understand all of the theological implications involved in the atonement. It does mean that in his teaching and preaching the minister denies or ignores the blood of Christ at deadly peril to all concerned.
We are familiar with the story of the delivery of the children of Israel from Egypt. Commanded to sprinkle blood on the door posts and lintels of their houses they were comforted with these words: “… and when I see the blood, I will pass over you,” for “… the blood shall be to you a token” (Exod. 12:13). The writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews speaks of Moses: “Through faith he kept the passover, and the sprinkling of blood, lest he that destroyed the firstborn should touch them” (Heb. 11:28).
That there is a symbolic, or prophetic note in this incident is self-evident. Mankind stands in judgment before God and in the midst of judgment God offers mercy and forgiveness: “… and when I see the blood, I will pass over you …” reminds a sinful world that the judgment of God was poured out on his Son on Calvary—because he loves us so much. “But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water” (John 19:34). To what purpose? That by faith the blood of the murdered Son of God might stand between us and the righteous judgment of a holy God.
The Lamb of God fulfilled that which the blood of bulls and goats could not for the Old Covenant was superceded by the New. Jesus “… took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; for this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins” (Matt. 26:27, 28).
Later the risen Lord revealed to the Apostle Paul the significance of this sacrament: “This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me” (1 Cor. 11:25b).
Writing to Jewish Christians, men and women deeply aware of sacrificial significance, the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews shows the significance of the blood atonement of our Lord:
“But into the second went the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people: “The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing: … But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us” (Heb. 9:7, 8, 11, 12).
And then to crown this glorious truth the writer adds: “For if the blood of bulls and goats …: How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God” (vs. 13, 14).
Placing the blood of Christ in its perfect perspective the author concludes: “Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is well-pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen” (Heb. 13:20, 21).
The Apostle Peter writes: “Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: …” (1 Pet. 1:2). Peter goes on: … “redeemed … with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot” (vs. 18, 19).
John takes up the theme: “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin” (1 John 1:7).
In the Revelation the elders sing: “… Thou art worthy …: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood …” (5:9), and the final victory is foretold in these words: “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto death” (12:11).
Mysterious though it may be, the blood of the Son of God, shed on Calvary, is the agent of man’s redemption—“Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood …” (Rom. 3:25). “Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him” (Rom. 5:9). “In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace” (Eph. 1:7). Why, oh why, question that which God has done for us?
Man may reject or discredit the blood of Christ but he does so to his own eternal undoing.
A bloodless religion may appeal to the esthetic sense but it is as dead as an exsanguinated corpse!
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