“The blood tells us a lot,” the nurse said as she was taking my wife’s blood for testing. I laughed as I heard her say that because she reminded me of a line from the book “Dangerous Ways” where the protagonist said pretty much the same thing, but from a fantasy perspective. From earliest times, we knew that life was in the blood. It is essential for life. As medicine advanced, one of the things that doctors tried to do was find ways to replace blood to keep people alive. One of the most important discoveries was that the use of blood plasma was effective and that blood plasma was more easily stored. Charles Drew discovered how to dry and reconstitute blood plasma. He became the director of a blood bank to support British Troops in World War II and, when the US entered the war, was the initial director of the blood bank for American military personnel for the Red Cross.
The Bible talks a lot about blood. For the Israelites, blood was used as a sacrifice to cleanse sins. When you made a covenant, cut a covenant really, blood was sprinkled to seal the deal, so to speak. Every year when the priest went into the Holy of Holies to seek atonement with God, he came in with the blood of the sacrifice and sprinkled it on the mercy seat so that he would be worthy to appear before God. Then, Jesus came along. The book of Hebrews describes Jesus as the ultimate sacrifice. That means, no longer do we need the blood from the sacrifices of animals, Jesus paid it all. “He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption.” (Hebrews 9:12)
The whole passage in that section of Hebrews is talking about our reconciliation with God. It is a “before” and “after” picture of God dealing with man. Prior to the coming of Jesus, every time you met with God, you came with a sacrifice. You might offer a bull or a goat; it might be a sheep or a dove. There was a complicated listing of what you should sacrifice for any event in your life. Some of the sacrifices were strictly grain or incense, but most involved blood. In the usual course of the sacrifice, the animal would be offered, the blood spilled and offered to God, fat would be burned up, the priest would take his portion, and then the family would get the rest of the meat that they could use for a celebration. The celebration was joyous as the family reveled in the feeling of having reconciled with God. That obviously couldn’t happen often, unless one lived in Jerusalem, so the sacrifice, aside from being a religious obligation, was an important family celebration.
The death of Jesus as the ultimate sacrifice changed all of that. Instead of reconciliation with God being a one-time special event, it became an everyday celebration of His love for us. He obtained eternal redemption for us, not the temporary redemption that needed to be repeated through the old sacrificial system. As followers of Christ, we celebrate that sacrifice any time we gather together with God’s people to worship, or any time we celebrate His work in our lives personally. Before the sacrifice of Jesus, animals needed to be without blemish; because Jesus was the perfect, eternal sacrifice, we can come before God in our frailty and weakness. The offer of reconciliation with God, of becoming friends with God, is available to every person, not just a select group. God is no longer separated by vast differences in space and time; He is just a prayer away to those who seek Him.
Daily Devotion by Bob James