A Sacrifice of Blood

Not too long ago, I read an interesting article by biblical scholar Dr. Elmer Towns. I found it under the heading “ Why is blood so important to God?” I think, it is fair to say, the question is a good one to ask, for as you read the Bible–whether the Hebrew Scriptures or our own New Testament–there is a lot in there about blood!
As Dr. Towns points out, we all know that the blood of humans and animals is a highly complex fluid which contains cells, various forms of nourishment for a body’s tissues–including oxygen, hormones and other substances which help maintain health and well-being. We also know that blood is vital to our existence; without blood, our physical bodies would cease to exist. This is one reason we find, for instance, the Bible makes the claim the life of flesh is in the blood (see Leviticus 17:11 and 14, and Deuteronomy 12:23), and we find in the laws of the Old Testament the requirement of animal blood to be shed as an offering for human sin.
Jesus transformed what was prophesied through those laws for dealing with sin. After generations of such sacrifice, God decided to bring all of that to fulfillment in one central event–the death of our Lord on the Cross. This is what we call “atonement,” the cost required to put an end to the power of sin and death and bring us back into relationship with God. We may not understand why things are this way; those questions need a little more space! However, we do know that the God in whom we trust sent His Son into the world, not to condemn it, but to save it by His sacrificial death (see John 3:16 and 17). For, as the author of Hebrews reminds us, without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness (Hebrews 9:22).
We all know we cannot get through this life (This day? This hour? This minute?) without revealing our inherent sinfulness. We need a power outside of ourselves to save us. Again, that is why the focus of the Christian life is not trust in ourselves, but trust in Christ. And that trust opens so many doors for us.
Paul wrote to the Roman Christians, “ Since we have been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him!” (Romans 5:9) And Paul also wrote to the Ephesians, “ In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding .” (Ephesians 1:7–8) Through the shed blood of Jesus, the author of Hebrews writes, we have full access to God (10:19–20, 22). This same work continues in us as we live with Christ. Walking in the light with Him and in fellowship with one another, we find that the “ blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin. ” (1 John 1:7)
Furthermore, Revelation tells us that those who have died because of their faith, those whose blood has been poured out because of their faithfulness to Christ, their blood is not wasted, but because of the blood of the Lamb, they will know victory. Those who die martyrs will be raised washed, clean and made white in the blood of the Lamb, free from all suffering and persecution (Rev 12:11, 7:12–17). Because the blood Christ shed for us assures us of victory no matter what happens: even in the face of evil and death.
Why all this talk about blood right now? We know–we have to know–no sacrifice on behalf of any human being can equal that of Jesus’ sacrifice. Yet we also know that often blood has been offered for the sake of another: the soldier who tosses himself on a grenade to save the life of a comrade, the mother who gives her life standing against an abusive spouse to defend a child, the teachers who have given their lives protecting the lives of their students in reason-less school shootings, or martyrs who gave of their blood rather than renounce their faith. These are sacrifices as well. They do not atone for the sins of others, but they do often have a saving quality to them. Our freedom, the freedoms we enjoy this day in our great nation, were bought by the sacrificial deaths of others on distant shores.
Together, this week, we are able to make a small sacrifice. In this strange season in which many of us (save essential personnel and those sacrificial health care workers and first responders) are, in a sense, held hostage within our homes, it is hard to find adequate ways to give back to others. Yet I would like you to join us by signing up for our Blood Drive to be held in Bagby Parish Hall Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday this week (April 28, 29, and 30). We have filled the appointments for Tuesday and Wednesday, but we still have appointments to fill Thursday.

Please note that due to the “social distancing” that I hope we are all observing, you must go online and register for an appointment. You cannot just show up, but you can register and then show up and give. Give what? Give blood! It's a small sacrifice for you that may literally save the physical life of another.
Laura and I have taken appointments 1 and 2 on Tuesday. We hope that you will join us in this effort.
Click here to register for an appointment Thursday.
And, as you give, as you rest and allow the professionals to withdraw your blood, close your eyes and pray. Pray for the one who might receive your lifeblood and, beyond that, pray that God will strengthen your faith not in human blood, but the shed blood of Jesus that frees us from the power of sin and death, and releases us into abundant life here and life eternal with our Lord and all the saints in light.
Indeed, there is power–power–wonder-working power–in the Blood of the Lamb.

The Rev. Dr. Russell J. Levenson, Jr.