Friday, April 10, 2009

What can wash away my sins?

Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

What can make me whole again?

Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

I have noticed a slew of postings on the cross around the web this week and a lot of them go out of their way to avoid any hint of the wrath of God. Lots of talk about reconciliation, but not much about propitiation. No hint of the “B” word (blood). All very feel-good stuff but not much of it faithful to the sometimes troubling Biblical record. I want to look today, on Good Friday when many Christians and churches focus on the crucifixion, at the blood of Christ shed on the cross.

This is what the cross tells me. Because of my sin, someone had to receive justice. That just punishment for my sins was going to be paid for either by me or by Christ. Thank God that in His mercy, He sent His Son to die for my sins. Like the bronze serpent in the wilderness, He was lifted up and in doing so He paid for my sins with His own blood. He sealed that new covenant between me and God with His shed blood. When we observe the Supper today, we remember Christ’s vicarious death and we make a public proclamation to the world: For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes. (1 Cor 11: 26). The blood of Christ is the great healer.

Blood is a recurring theme throughout the Bible.

In Genesis 4, we see the blood of Abel crying out from the ground…

And the Lord said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother's blood is crying to me from the ground. (Gen 4:10)

In Egypt, it was the blood that turned away the Destroyer

For I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and I will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am the Lord. The blood shall be a sign for you, on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you, when I strike the land of Egypt. (Exo 12: 12-13)

On the Day of Atonement, blood was shed and sprinkled on the mercy seat…

“Then he shall kill the goat of the sin offering that is for the people and bring its blood inside the veil and do with its blood as he did with the blood of the bull, sprinkling it over the mercy seat and in front of the mercy seat. Thus he shall make atonement for the Holy Place, because of the uncleannesses of the people of Israel and because of their transgressions, all their sins. And so he shall do for the tent of meeting, which dwells with them in the midst of their uncleannesses. (Lev 16: 15-16)

As Christians, we read in the New Testament (esp. in Hebrews) and see that the rivers of animal blood were not the intended remedy, but a picture of the cross. The blood of animals was never enough to be more than a temporary fix. Year after year the sacrifice was made. It was never a complete system nor was it intended to be, it was a mere type and shadow of the true sacrifice of Christ to come…

For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year, make perfect those who draw near. Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, since the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have any consciousness of sins? But in these sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. (Heb 10: 1-4)

The blood of goats and bulls was not enough. Our good works were not good enough. Our righteousness was not good enough. Only one Man was good enough, one sacrifice complete enough, to take away the sins of the elect once and for all eternity. One perfect, sufficient and complete sacrifice…

And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified. (Heb 10: 10-14)

This is powerful stuff, the life giving, sin atoning blood of Jesus Christ! If you aren’t hearing about this on Sunday morning, ask yourself why not? What else do we have to talk about other than the blood shed to redeem lost sinners? There are so many wonderful blessings that accompany being born-again, but all of them, all of them, are predicated on the cross of Christ and the blood He shed there. Without the cross, there is no adoption. There is no advocate with the Father. There is no victory over sin. There is no joy. There is no salvation and without the cross there is no reason for celebration.

Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins. Thus it was necessary for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these rites, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. Nor was it to offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the holy places every year with blood not his own, for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. (Heb 9: 22-26)

The world will look at the cross and declare it foolish. So an innocent guy died so that other people could be saved? That doesn’t make any sense! To the unregenerate mind, to the world, it is foolishness (1 Cor 1:18). You can understand why. The unregenerate does not see his own sin, does not see the righteousness of God and realize the affront of his own sin in the eyes of God. When a person is born again, they don’t see how righteous they have become, they see how sinful and lost they truly are. I pray we don’t make the mistake of listening to the world instead of the Word.

The cross was not some neat, clean knickknack to be sold in Christian schlock stores. It was a place of brutal death. When Christ was crucified, by nails and a spear, His blood was shed. That may make us uncomfortable in the sanitized Churchianity of 2009, where we gather in tidy buildings with comfortable seats. We don’t like to be uncomfortable but a blood stained cross where the Son of God died for sinners should make people uncomfortable! For the Christian, it should also make us rejoice that so great a sinner as I should be saved by so a great a Savior as Christ!

1 comment:

gloria said...

I love that hymn!! My kids ask to sing it all the time.......we also love the hymn "are you washed in the blood... in the soul cleansing blood the lamb, are your garments spotless are they white as snow, are you washed in the blood of the lamb".

Wonderful, powerful hymns.

Thank you Jesus for what you did for us!