The Power of the Blood

What can make me whole again? Nothing but the Blood of Jesus.

What can wash me white as snow? Nothing but the Blood of Jesus.  

This is the primary point presented throughout the letter to the Hebrews. The writer set up his argument for this truth by establishing the reality of the Person of the Son, Jesus Christ. 

The Son who is One with the Father and the Spirit who is introduced as the Final Word to the world. The communication of the mind of God was rendered complete with the incarnation of Jesus. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, as one of us, to die for all of us. He entered fully into His Creation, in which He was a full participant and He now upholds this “universe by the word of His power” (see Hebrews 1:3). 

The Son is also presented as the great and final High Priest, anointed after the order of Melchizedek. He came to exact the lasting and finished sacrifice required by the Law of Redemption. He did so and ascended to the place prepared for Him on high:  “After making purification for sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty. …” (Hebrews 1:3). 

The climactic portion of Hebrews comes in Chapters 9 and 10. We are here told of the objective and substantive element of salvation as declared through the Gospel. “… Without the shedding of Blood there is no forgiveness of sins” (Hebrews 9:22). 

Blood. If you are like me, the sight of it can make you queasy, nauseous, sick to your stomach. During my high school days, those creepy killer movies began to hit theaters. I couldn’t look at any of them. 

For some, the question easily comes to mind as to why the Blood would be made so central to our being reconciled to the Lord. The answer is this:  sin offends God so much beyond what we could imagine. The necessity of the shedding of the Blood puts forward the total disaster that sin set in motion. 

The Need for Covering

Think of the story in the Garden. Adam ate of the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, a tree that the Lord told him would bring death if he ate from it. Yet Adam did eat from it, after Eve had eaten through the deception of the serpent, and death did come. 

Immediately, self-evaluation was triggered by the man’s conscience. He saw himself as he had never before seen himself – naked and unworthy of being in the presence of His Maker. 

How did the Lord provide for the feelings of nakedness as they now existed? Genesis 3:21 tells us:  “And the Lord God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them.”

Those skins came from slain animals. Their blood was shed for the coverings the man and the woman needed as a result of their disobedience. 

Hebrews 9 takes us first to the Tabernacle with its altars and furniture and the sacrificial practices that happened over and over in the service rendered by the priests. It was the worship center for Israel, the chosen ones delivered from slavery in Egypt, the descendants of Abraham. This Tabernacle’s topmost layers were made from the skins of rams and badgers (see Exodus 25-26). It was a place definitively dedicated and consecrated with blood. 

Even the Tabernacle priests, who were the designated servants with positions highlighted by uniforms fashioned with precious stones and golden plates, chains, and threads, were to make offerings for their transgressions, as well as for the sins of the congregation and the nation. The most beautified and equipped among the tribes of Israel were reckoned as sinners required to make atonement. 

They did so with the blood from bulls and goats (Hebrews 9:5). This was symbolic and effective to a degree. It was a practical expression, an observance that answered the legal aspect of our guilt. 

And yet the shame, the feeling of unworthiness still percolated in the consciences of the people, as it percolates in all of us even now. Psalm 2:1 opens with these provocative questions:  “Why do the heathen rage and the people imagine vain things?” It is because of inner restlessness, the curse and torment of death that came from the eating of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge.

At our core, we know we’re wrong.

The Final and Lasting Sacrifice

There are a couple ways we attempt to assuage these feelings of disquiet. We can try to do enough good in order to make amends, to balance the scales, to buy favor with God or with people. This is the religious way; it is self-righteousness and it rots and stinks to Heaven. 

The other thing we can do is to become comparative. We say to ourselves, “Yes, I have my faults, but at least I am not like some others.”

Jesus outlined this problematic mindset in Luke 18 with His story of two praying people – one a Pharisee, the other a publican or a disgraced tax collector. 

“The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. … And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner” (see Luke 18:11, 13).

Jesus said that it was the second man, the publican, who found peace and contentment that day. “I tell you, this man went down to his house justified. …” (Luke 18: 15). 

The animal sacrifices typified the mess that infects all humanity. Bloodshed in the Tabernacle rituals was meant to illustrate the tragic loss that sin afflicts because the life of the flesh is in the blood (see Leviticus 17:11, 14).

Bulls’ and goats’ blood could not effect a cleansing power, however. These offerings brought temporary relief, but did not get to the heart of the matter. 

Something greater, something better had to be brought before the Lord. 

That Something was the Blood of the Lamb of God. The Blood of Christ, His Blood alone could satisfy the wages of sin that had to be paid. 

The Son, the final and enduring Priest, carried His Blood to the eternal Mercy Seat set in Heaven:  “Hentered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of His own Blood, thus securing an eternal redemption” (Hebrews 9:12). What is more, He sat down as “the Mediator of the New Covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance” (Hebrews 9:15). 

The Gift of Godliness and Contentment

Jesus is done with His Work, and because He finished His work, He sits as our Mediator, our Representative, our Advocate. He appears in “the presence of God on our behalf” (Hebrews 9:24). He understands all the challenges we face in temptation and how holy, sanctified living can only come through the power of the eternal Spirit working in us to will and to do of His pleasure.

The Blood speaks for us and so we can pray just like the publican in the story:  “God, be merciful to me. …” And we can get up from our knees and go “down to our house justified.” 

Why? Because Christ “offered Himself without blemish to God” in order to “purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God” (Hebrews 9:14). 

Let us not live in the performance mentality of religion and comparison. That is a dead end of empty effort. This is no way to find rest and contentment in Him. Click To Tweet

Let us not live in the performance mentality of religion and comparison. That is a dead end of empty effort. This is no way to find rest and contentment in Him. 

Call upon the Son. Seek His face. Go boldly to His Throne. Receive the mercy and the gift of godliness that He gives. 

These things from Hebrews we must hold true. Jesus “appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself … having been offered once to bear the sins of many. …” (Hebrews 9:26-28). 

The Blood speaks the holiest thing that could be said about us. It says that we are washed from all unrighteousness, made whole and clean in the sight of the Lord. 

And as washed ones we now are to serve and to watch. For Christ is coming again. Yes He “will appear a second time not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for Him” (Hebrews 9:28).

 

Steve Andrulonis
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