Saturday, March 30, 2013

Remembering the Blood

"Do this in remembrance of me." 

In church we do communion in memory and celebration of Chist's sacrifice, His body broken for us, His blood poured out. Thursday we remembered the first night Jesus commanded this, before He was betrayed and taken to be crucified. "This is my blood of the new covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins." (Matthew 26:26-28

Yesterday, Good Friday, we remembered that Jesus didn't just talk about dying, He actually died. His body was broken, blood was poured out on Calvary's ground, until He cried, "It is finished" and gave up His life. He died for us, so we could "have life, and have it to the full." (John 10:10

The remembrance and celebration of Jesus is so much more than a small cup of grape juice and a little square cracker or pinch of bread torn from a loaf. It is so much greater than eggs dyed yellow and green, chocolate bunnies, and a few songs on Sunday morning. 

It's about the blood. It's about what the crackers and wine we so often take for granted represent. It's about the blood of the Lamb, sacrificed and crucified, covering the sins of the world. 

When the Israelites were slaves in Egypt God sent plagues to show the Pharaoh that He was God, all-powerful and all-knowing. The last of these plagues was an angel of death. The Israelites were instructed to sacrifice a lamb, pure and spotless, and paint the blood on the doorframes of their homes. Then when the angel passed over, he would see the blood and pass over that doorway, and the Lord would not permit "the destroyer" to enter into those homes and strike down the first born sons (Exodus 12:21-23). 

The blood of the lamb protected the Israelites from the angels of death. The blood acted as a covering for them, so that they were not destroyed.

Just as the Israelites were saved by the blood of a sacrificed lamb, we are saved by the blood of the Sacrificial Lamb. We're covered by the blood of Jesus Christ. His sacrifice parallels the sacrifices of so long ago, but because of Jesus, we no longer need to make atonement for our sins by sacrificing animals on an altar. Jesus gave up His life as the ultimate sacrifice, His death and resurrection acts as the mediation between us and our deep brokenness and sin and God's perfection.  

Hebrews says that Christ's blood obtained for us eternal redemption. In the Old Testament the blood of a goat or bull cleansed people outwardly. Jesus' blood, perfect and spotless and sinless, cleanses us completely, from the inside, rescuing us from death so we can serve a living God.

Jesus' blood, the blood of the Lamb, purifies us from all sin, saves us from death, redeems and restores us and allows us to be in the presence of God the Father Almighty. Priests used to have to cleanse themselves for weeks, becoming as clean and pure as possible, before they entered into the tabernacle to go before God and atone for their own sins and the sins of the people, with burnt offerings and sacrifices. 

Leviticus 17:11 says, "For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one's life." Jesus is the burnt offering, and His blood atones for our sins, making us spotless and clean in the eyes of the Lord. We no longer need a priest to mediate for us, because Jesus acted as the Great High Priest and His death mediates for us forever, allowing us to be in the presence of God. 

In order to defeat death, without defeating us, as the wages of sin are death, God allowed the death of His very own Son. The pure, spotless, perfect lamb, sacrificed for our sins. His atoning blood covers us, so the angel of death passes over. Death is defeated, swallowed up in the victory of Jesus Christ.