The Blood of Christ
Because the blood of Christ symbolizes his atonement, it is precious to each believer. It becomes even more meaningful as we examine the many facets of the salvation it purchased for us:
The Blood is a Token of the New Covenant
Matthew 26:28, Luke 22:20 and I Corinthians 11:25 record Yeshua’s command to his followers to commemorate his atoning death. Communion looks back to that event in history. The above verses all deal with the same thing: the blood of the testament, or covenant. The blood of Christ was the instrument by which the New Covenant was brought into existence.
The dictionary describes the word covenant” as a formal, solemn, binding agreement, promise or pledge. A formal agreement between two parties always involves a token of some sort to make it binding. In modern terminology a contract sets forth a certain consideration—the exchange of a sum of money or other tangibles—whereby the agreement is made legal and binding. A contract will usually read, “For the consideration of $ ________.” It may be one dollar, ten dollars or some other amount, but there must be some tangible token to seal the contract. That consideration is called an earnest. It shows that a valid transaction has taken place because it cost something.
In ancient times the token consideration of a covenant involved the shedding of blood. The Hebrew word for covenant is “brith,” which literally means “cutting.” The covenant that God made with Abram involved the shedding of blood by circumcision. The New Covenant also had to involve the shedding of blood. Yeshua’s blood which flowed at Calvary was God’s token that made the New Covenant legal and binding.
At Communion we celebrate many things, such as the Lord’s atoning death, his future return and his presence with us. We also celebrate this everlasting covenant which insures our salvation. God’s promise of forgiveness and eternal life is sealed with the token of his own blood.
The Blood Gives Life
In John 6:54 we read, “He who eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.” The blood of Christ feeds the believer’s soul and provides spiritual nourishment, which leads to eternal life.
The Blood Brings Redemption
While “redeemed” is a term used often in evangelical circles, some might find the concept of redemption unfamiliar. However, it is quite understandable to anyone who knows about pawn shops. A person brings in some item of value, and in exchange receives the loan of a certain sum of money and a claim ticket. In order to retrieve that property, the borrower must return to the shop within a specified time period and pay back the loan with interest. Then the item is returned to its original owner.
Ephesians 1:7 says that we have redemption through the blood according to the riches of God’s grace. Acts 20:28 says, “Take heed…to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.” We belong to God by virtue of the blood that bought us. We needed to be bought—redeemed—because of sin that had taken us from him.
Originally God’s “property” by virtue of creation, we became the servants of sin through Adam’s fall. Since according to Scripture “…the wages of sin is death…,” we could be redeemed by nothing less than death. Because of sin, our own death was not valid tender, but Christ’s death paid the price. Because he purchased each believer with his blood, not only are we individually redeemed, but the Church is a redeemed society. That corporate manifestation which encompasses all believers was established by God. Christ shed his blood to redeem it. Therefore, before we allow ourselves to criticize the Church too harshly, we ought to remember what it cost God. (Lack of respect for the Church intimates that God received a poor bargain for the terrible price he paid!)
The Blood Makes Propitiation
“Propitiation” is an old English word meaning “covering.” For example: to appear in public without clothing constitutes an impropriety. The only way to be socially acceptable is to be propriately covered. The word propitiation is related to the word “proper.” In theological terms, it means that one is acceptably covered before a righteous God. In the Garden of Eden, when Adam first sinned, he hid from God because he knew he was naked. God said, “Who told you that you were naked?” Adam realized sin when he actualized it and then tried to cover it—tried to make his own propitiation. His way, an apron of fig leaves, was unacceptable, and God provided a covering—skins from a slaughtered animal. Through the blood of Christ, humanity finds propitiation—propriety—acceptability before God. “Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God” (Romans 3:25).
There is an acceptable and an unacceptable way of approaching God: For example, a person wanting to adopt a child cannot go down to the nearest orphanage, choose a child out of the playground and take him home. The child might agree, and might even love that person, but that is not the way to become an adoptive parent. The law calls it kidnapping! There must be legal sanction for the relationship. Theologically, there are those who want an easy relationship with God. Their attitude is, “O.K., Dad, let’s go!” No relationship can exist, however, without propitiation. Unless we approach God through the way of awe, through the way of Calvary, through the way of the blood, we are defeated in the attempt.
The Blood Justifies
Romans 5:9 teaches that we are justified by the blood of Christ. There is a difference between propitiation and justification. Propitiation involves satisfying the demand of God’s law. If you want to adopt that hypothetical child you chose on the playground, you must file adoption papers in court. When the judge rules on it, it becomes official. Subsequent to that, justification occurs when you enroll the child in school as belonging to you. He or she now bears your last name, and you introduce him in the neighborhood as yours. The same circumstances apply in marriage. Justification occurs at the point where you call upon the community to recognize the established fact that you are husband and wife.
The Blood Provides Access Through Forgiveness
Colossians 1:14 and Ephesians 1:7 both teach that redemption through the blood of Christ provides forgiveness. I John 1:9 teaches, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins.…” Ephesians 2:13 states that because of that forgiveness we also have access to God: “But now in Christ Jesus ye who once were far off are made near by the blood of Christ.”
Satan’s tactic is to discourage the believer from coming to God through the shed blood of Christ to ask forgiveness. But because of that sacrifice, the way to God’s presence is open. There was never a sinner so rotten that God would not hear his prayer of repentance offered because of the shed blood of Christ.
The Blood Provides Reconciliation
The cross of Calvary and the shed blood of Christ go together. One is the place, and the other is the instrument of the atonement. Colossians 1:19-20 says, “For it pleased the Father that in him should all fullness dwell; And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself…whether they be things on earth, or things in heaven.”
At Calvary God took something ugly and fearful—an instrument of torture and execution—and made it good. He took the cross, an instrument of anguish, and made it an instrument of peace between himself and fallen humanity. One believer was chiding another for a past lapse in godly behavior. “Remember three years ago…” he began. The forgiven sinner broke in with the brisk retort, “Remember 2,000 years ago at Calvary!” He knew that God had forgiven him because he had repented and placed that particular sin “under the blood.” It no longer stood between him and God. He could no longer be called into account for something that had been settled at Calvary.
The Blood Provides Cleansing
“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).
The blood of Christ provides not just one-time cleansing, but continual and perpetual cleansing. We can go to God every day and ask for forgiveness. God does not respond, “You again? Weren’t you here just yesterday confessing that sin, and now you’re back again? You won’t get away with it again tomorrow. If you come back tomorrow I will not forgive you.” That is not his way. He is willing to forgive us the symbolic seventy times seven, and far beyond. We need daily cleansing, and through the blood of Christ we have it. There is always the promise that we are not compelled to sin, and that tomorrow we may succeed. In the meantime, we remain clean through the blood.
The Blood Makes Us Overcomers
In Revelation 12:11 we read, “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their story.…” There’s a commonly used word in today’s society—”loser.” The Yiddish equivalent is “nebbish.” No one wants to be a loser; everyone wants to be a winner. God’s idea of winning is not to be a competitive winner, where one person’s success necessitates another person’s failure. God’s idea of winning is overcoming. Each of us has our mountain of life to scale. Each of us has a course to run. Each of us has a dragon to be slain. Overcoming means to subdue, and that is what Adam was sent out to do. He was to take dominion, to subdue, to hold down. The blood gives us the power to do that.
At Calvary, Jesus looked like a loser. Yet he overcame. He overcame death and the grave. He overcame and subdued the sin of all humanity—and through his blood we, too, can be overcomers.