Long before I was born-again into the reality of my life in Christ someone once told me they could never become a Christian because it was a butcher’s block religion based on a human sacrifice and drenched in blood. At the time I was in the seeker phase on my way to becoming an atheist and this sounded about right. I knew from my parental enforced childhood study of Christianity at a Sunday school and catechism class they used for weekend childcare that Christians referred to Christ’s death on the cross as a sacrifice: they believed they were drinking His blood during communion, and they sang songs like, “There’s Power in the Blood.”
Now that I live each day seeking to be used of God in and through Jesus Christ, I’ve come to realize there’s some basic truth to this butcher’s block talk minus the negative spin. Blood is an important part of Christianity. And there is power in the blood of Jesus.
When He was instructing Moses in the revelation of the Jewish shadow of things to come God put it this way, “For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul.” In the New Testament the writer of Hebrews explains it this way, “And according to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission.”
When Adam chose to follow his wife into disobedience instead of rebuking the Devil and throwing him out of the Garden God’s warning to them concerning the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, “You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die” came to pass. True, Adam lived another 930 years physically but he died spiritually the moment he disobeyed God. Then everyone descended from Adam was born after his likeness with a spirit alienated from God and in bondage to the Devil.
God could have waved His hand and made everything as it was but that would not be just and God is a just God. He created Adam as the overseer of His creation and only subject to Himself. Man chose to listen to the Devil and follow him instead. In other words, God gave the title-deed to creation to man and man gave it to the Devil.
Just imagine if I bought a new car and gave it to you. It is now your car. I bought it for you. I wanted you to have it and enjoy it. But then you decide to give it to someone else. You sign the title over to them. Now who owns the car? I bought the car for you. I wanted you to have it. But now that you’ve given it to someone else it’s legally their car. If I was to take it back and once again give it to you, would that be fair? Would that be just?
That’s the situation God faced after our betrayal. For the sake of justice a price had to be paid for man’s sin of disobedience. That price is what God foreshadowed through the sacrifice of a lamb without blemish. A spotless sacrifice whose blood when applied to the door posts of the Israelite homes caused the angel of death to Passover.
When John the Baptist looked at Jesus and said, “Behold the lamb that takes away the sins of the world” he announced to the world that the final sacrifice had begun. The old plan for covering sins was passing away and a new plan was beginning. The writer of the book of Hebrews in the New Testament was speaking to the Jews trying to explain to them how the sacrifice of Jesus did away with their millennia old tradition of animal sacrifices. This explanation as presented in The Message covers the ground very well:
But when the Messiah arrived, high priest of the superior things of this new covenant, he bypassed the old tent and its trappings in this created world and went straight into heaven’s “tent”—the true Holy Place—once and for all. He also bypassed the sacrifices consisting of goat and calf blood, instead using his own blood as the price to set us free once and for all. If that animal blood and the other rituals of purification were effective in cleaning up certain matters of our religion and behavior, think how much more the blood of Christ cleans up our whole lives, inside and out. Through the Spirit, Christ offered himself as an unblemished sacrifice, freeing us from all those dead-end efforts to make ourselves respectable, so that we can live all out for God.
Like a will that takes effect when someone dies, the new covenant was put into action at Jesus’ death. His death marked the transition from the old plan to the new one, canceling the old obligations and accompanying sins, and summoning the heirs to receive the eternal inheritance that was promised them. He brought together God and his people in this new way.
Even the first plan required a death to set it in motion. After Moses had read out all the terms of the plan of the law—God’s “will”—he took the blood of sacrificed animals and, in a solemn ritual, sprinkled the document and the people who were its beneficiaries. And then he attested its validity with the words, “This is the blood of the covenant commanded by God.” He did the same thing with the place of worship and its furniture. Moses said to the people, “This is the blood of the covenant God has established with you.” Practically everything in a will hinges on a death. That’s why blood, the evidence of death, is used so much in our tradition, especially regarding forgiveness of sins.
That accounts for the prominence of blood and death in all these secondary practices that point to the realities of heaven. It also accounts for why, when the real thing takes place, these animal sacrifices aren’t needed anymore, having served their purpose. For Christ didn’t enter the earthly version of the Holy Place; he entered the Place Itself, and offered himself to God as the sacrifice for our sins. He doesn’t do this every year as the high priests did under the old plan with blood that was not their own; if that had been the case, he would have to sacrifice himself repeatedly throughout the course of history. But instead he sacrificed himself once and for all, summing up all the other sacrifices in this sacrifice of himself, the final solution of sin.
Everyone has to die once, then face the consequences. Christ’s death was also a one-time event, but it was a sacrifice that took care of sins forever. And so, when he next appears, the outcome for those eager to greet him is, precisely, salvation.
Because of that sacrifice we can now pick up the keys, the car is ours again. Jesus paid the price and purchased it back for us. Paul said it clearly in the New Testament book of Romans, “This is the core of our preaching. Say the welcoming word to God ‘Jesus is my Master’ embracing, body and soul, God’s work of doing in us what he did in raising Jesus from the dead. That’s it. You’re not ‘doing’ anything; you’re simply calling out to God, trusting him to do it for you. That’s salvation. With your whole being you embrace God setting things right, and then you say it, right out loud: God has set everything right between him and me!’”
The best advice I can give is: devour God’s Word and let it lead you into all truth. So if anyone ever says to you, “I could never become a Christian because it’s a butcher’s block religion based on a human sacrifice and drenched in blood” you can answer them confidently, “That’s exactly why I had to become a Christian because you see, there’s power in the blood.”
An old song has it nailed:
There is power, power, wonder-working power
In the blood of the Lamb;
There is power, power, wonder-working power
In the precious blood of the Lamb.
Sing it. Say it. Believe it. Live it. And watch that power give you the life God designed for you.
Dr. Owens teaches History, Political Science, Global Studies, and Religion. He is the Historian of the Future @ http://drrobertowens.com © 2019 Contact Dr. Owens Follow Dr. Robert Owens on Facebook or Twitter @ Drrobertowens or visit Dr. Owens Amazon Page / Edited by Dr. Rosalie Owens