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Nothing But the Blood of Jesus

25 February • Second Sunday in Lent


Hebrews 9:11-28

11 But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) 12 he entered 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. 13 For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, 14 how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.


15 Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant. 16 For where a will is involved, the death of the one who made it must be established. 17 For a will takes effect only at death, since it is not in force as long as the one who made it is alive. 18 Therefore not even the first covenant was inaugurated without blood. 19 For when every commandment of the law had been declared by Moses to all the people, he took the blood of calves and goats, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, 20 saying, “This is the blood of the covenant that God commanded for you.” 21 And in the same way he sprinkled with the blood both the tent and all the vessels used in worship. 22 Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.

23 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. 24 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. 25 Nor was it to offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the holy places every year with blood not his own, 26 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. 27 And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, 28 so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.

Meditation

 

In the passage, the author sums up and anticipates some of the great themes of the epistle. The high priestly ministry of Jesus is superior to that of all before Him (vv.11-14). What came before was only a shadowy copy of what Jesus brought and did (vv.23-24). What He did, He did it only once and it was effective for ever (vv.25-28).


What stands out as utterly non-negotiable in Jesus’ work is the shedding of blood. Bloodshed is often associated with violent death. The Israelites were aware of this as they witnessed the violent death of animal sacrifices in the Temple. In order for sins to be forgiven, blood must be shed. In other words, someone must die (v.22). As the old covenant came about through blood (v.18), so the new covenant which promises the forgiveness of our sins was also sealed by blood.


But why this talk and obsession with blood? Doesn't it make our God a blood-thirsty God, and our faith primitive and revolting? Surely our faith should be associated with something tender and beautiful, like tears for example. However, God has chosen to speak to man in the language of blood. Why? The answer is simple: though we may shudder at the sight of it, blood is the most basic ingredient of life.


Dr Paul Brand, a medical doctor, puts it thus. "Each day we live at the mercy of organisms one-trillionth our size." He refers of course to the blood cell. Another doctor, Dr Ronald J. Glasser, adds, "No matter how we may wish to view ourselves, despite all our fantasies of grandeur and dominion, all our fragile human successes, the real struggle... has always been against bacteria and viruses, against adversaries never more than seven microns wide." The battles of life and death take place every day in our blood stream.


Though we may not like to see it or talk about it, we cannot deny that blood is what keeps us alive. What is true in the medical world is also true in the spiritual realm. Without blood, without the shedding of blood, there can be no forgiveness of sins. There can be no spiritual life. When Jesus shed His blood, He gave us His most precious possession, His life. He poured it out in death. We need a fresh appreciation of how much that should mean to us. Let us not be put off by the Bible's pre-occupation with blood. Let us rather be grateful for what God has done.


“What can wash away my sin?

Nothing but the blood of Jesus

What can make me whole again?

Nothing but the blood of Jesus.”


Prayer

 

Lord Jesus, I thank You for shedding Your blood for the forgiveness of my sins. May I never forget the price You paid and always be grateful for the gift of salvation I have received. Help me live each day with a thankful heart. Amen.


Action

 

We often think of things that lead us to murmur and complain. Why not remind ourselves of things that lead us to give thanks? Think of those people to whom we owe a debt. Most of all, remember Jesus who gave of His body and His blood, and told us to do it “in remembrance of me”.


Rev Dr David W F Wong

General Secretary

Bible-Presbyterian Church in Singapore

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