The crucial importance of blood is woven throughout the Bible
. From Genesis to Revelation, the writers tell us that life itself—both physical and spiritual—is found in this precious fluid. The Bible doesn't always use the exact term of “blood” to communicate the message of the price paid for forgiveness. Sometimes, it uses “death,” “sacrifice,” “payment,” “redemption,” “atonement,” “substitution,” “propitiation,” “justification,” or other words, but they all refer to a price paid for the forgiveness of sins and the restoration of a relationship with God. Some scholars say that the concept of a blood sacrifice is either explicit or implicit in every passage throughout the entire biblical record.
When the Bible says, “Life is in the blood
,” it carries the dual meaning of life and death. Even in ancient times, people understood that people and other types of animals couldn't live without the flow of life-giving blood. They didn't understand all the properties we understand now, and in fact, it wasn't until Dutch scientist Antoni van Leeuwenhoek looked through a microscope in the 17th century that scientists understood that there were different types of cells in our blood. The ancient people of the Bible, however, lived agrarian lives, and they were closer to the realities of life than most people alive today, especially Westerners. Instead of picking up shrink-wrapped steaks at the grocery store, they slaughtered the animals they ate. To them, the sight of blood was a common phenomenon.
From the beginning, God instituted blood sacrifice as an offering for sin. In the Old Testament sacrificial system, priests and individuals slit the throats of animals—choice, costly, unblemished animals—to offer to God to pay for sin. The act of killing the animal and watching the blood flow from its neck until it died is a graphic depiction of two important lessons: sin is so serious that something (or Someone) has to die to pay for it, and the one who offers the sacrifice pays a high price for forgiveness.
The death of Christ deals with our past, our present, and our future. It provides the necessary atonement for all our sins—not parts of them or some of them. Because of him, we’re free today, not free to sin, but free to live for the one who loves us and gave himself for us. And it offers the most glowing, magnificent promise every given: that you and I will be with him in glory for all time because we’ve been washed in the blood of the Lamb.
We can’t fully appreciate the death of Christ until we realize that he died in our place. Our sins deserve death, and they require death as a payment. Jesus shed his blood as a substitute for the payment we owed but could never pay. When we say we’ve been “redeemed,” it means that Someone has paid the price to set us free.
Christ’s payment on the cross is both judicial and relational. The Scriptures paint the picture of a courtroom where the guilty (that’s you and me) stand trial before the Judge of All. The prosecutor is Satan, the accuser of the brethren, and our defense counsel is Jesus Christ. We are, there’s no doubt, guilty as charged of a long list of crimes of selfishness. We deserve the sentence of death, but our Advocate steps out and pays the full price on our behalf. We deserve to go to the firing squad, but he stands in our place and takes our capital punishment so that we can go free. When we begin to grasp this incredible fact, our hearts soar and sing with gratitude, and we look for every way possible to honor the One who loves us so much.
Paul explained the connection between the death of Christ and glad obedience when he wrote to the Corinthians, “For Christ's love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again” (2 Corinthians 5:14-15). A fuller grasp of the importance of blood in our spiritual life causes us to view sin more seriously, but at the same time, we appreciate God’s wonderful forgiveness more than ever before. We’ll love him more, long to please him with all our hearts, and obey him—not because we feel forced to, but because we genuinely want to!
Why is a sense of wonder important to our faith? What happens to our relationship with God if we don’t have this sense of wonder?