Blood represents life. In fact, it is essential to sustain life. We literally cannot live without it. Blood is the life-giving liquid within our veins that carries oxygen to all of our vital organs. It carries antibodies, genetic codes, cells and platelets. Remove our blood, and our bodies cannot sustain life. In any type of trauma event, it is important to “stop the bleeding” lest we bleed out and the life-giving, life-sustaining liquid seeps from our bodies. When patients lose a lot of blood in surgery or in an accident, it is important to quickly replace that which has been lost. It gives life. It sustains life. That why “blood drives” and “blood donations” are so critically important. Blood is essential. And because He created us, God understands the work of the blood which flows through our bodies.
Go back to the days of the Old Testament, when God was first establishing a relationship with His people. After 400 years of enslavement, through the actions of Moses and the plagues, God brought about their redemption and freedom from oppression. Remember the 10th and final plague? God instructed the Hebrews to take the blood of a lamb and splash it across the doorposts of their homes. When the Death Angel passed over the land, those homes, which were literally “under the blood” were spared his wrath. It was the blood of the slaughtered lamb that defined the people of God as they fled from Egypt.
Move the story ahead to the days at the foot of Sinai and even later to the establishment of the nation of Israel. God declared that a special place be constructed in the midst of the people in which His presence would dwell. In the wilderness, it was the Tabernacle… a portable, tent-like structure where the people would gather to worship. Once the nation was defined, it was King Solomon who built the Temple in Jerusalem… a permanent and unparalleled place of worship. When the people gathered to worship in those places, sacrifices were made to atone for their sins. The priests would take the blood of animals and pour it on the altar in order to set the Israelites free from their oppressive sins. Again, it was the blood that made the difference. It was blood that washed away the transgressions and brought renewal to the people, restoring the relationship with Holy God. Because blood represented life, the shedding of blood on behalf of the people, restored the life that sinfulness had taken from them. The life of a lamb was offered in order to give life to an individual. The cost of sin was paid. As Lev. 17:11 declares, “For the life of the body is in its blood. I have given you the blood on the altar to purify you, making you right with the LORD. It is the blood, given in exchange for a life, that makes purification possible.” (NLT) The spilt blood of sacrifice offered life.
Move the story ahead to our day. No one is going to get up on Easter morning and sacrifice a lamb in order to atone for their sins. Why not? Because that sacrifice has already been made. When Jesus died on the cross, that spilling of blood was offered for us… for our sins… for our shame… for our transgressions. In order to reclaim the life that sin has taken from us, we must claim the blood of Jesus offered on the cross. The connections are clear and powerful. Once again, the blood a lamb has been offered for us, but not just any lamb. This time we claim the blood of the Lamb of God… who willingly offered up Himself for us. As I John 2:2 states, “Jesus himself is the sacrifice that atones for our sins—and not only our sins but the sins of all the world.” (NIV). His blood has been splashed across the doorposts of our lives. We who now live “under the blood” have found grace, mercy, forgiveness, and hope. The blood liberates us. We no longer live under the bondage of guilt and remorse. Our sins are erased and we are set free.
Take the word “atonement” and break it apart. When we speak of atonement, we are describing the process of being made “at-one” with God. Sin separates us from God. But the blood of Jesus Christ removes the barrier of sin and allows us to once again know a closeness with the Father. As we celebrate Holy Week and claim the victory of Easter morning, may we be reminded this day of the simple truth contained in the words of the great hymn written by Robert Lowry over 150 years ago…
What can wash away my sin?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
What can make me whole again?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
O precious is the flow
that makes me white as snow;
no other fount I know;
nothing but the blood of Jesus.
May you experience the power of the resurrection and know the joy of being set free as you celebrate Easter Morning.