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The liturgical reading for Monday of Holy Week included a passage from Hebrews 9. Verse 12 talks about Jesus entering the perfect tabernacle and the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption. Pondering this verse made me think of Jesus blood, and more importantly, why, exactly he was bleeding. I thought of the whip, the punches, the crown of thorns, the nails and the spear. A lot of blood!

Today is Maundy Thursday, the night that Jesus was betrayed. The night he celebrated Passover with his disciples, or the Last Supper as most Christians refer to it. The night of the New Covenant. Matthew 26:28 records Jesus saying to his disciples, “This is my blood of the covenant which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”

Other verses appropriate for us to consider as we approach Good Friday and consider the crucifixion:

Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood. (Acts 20:28)

He reconciled all things to himself, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. (Colossians 1:20)

In Christ we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace. (Ephesians 1:7)

How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God! (Hebrews 9:14)

Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus. (Hebrews 10:19)

Since we have been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! (Romans 5:9)

God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood-to be received by faith. (Romans 3:25)

These are the ones who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. (Revelation 7:14)

They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb…(Revelation12:11)

When Christians think about the blood of Christ and what it means to their lives, they think primarily, if not exclusively, of forgiveness of sins. That is certainly important, but as these verses point out, the blood of Jesus is much more than that. It is redemption, salvation, justification, atonement, triumph, covenant, the church, peace, power to serve God, reconciliation, clean consciences, access to the Most Holy Place, and white robes throughout eternity. Wow! How incredible and powerful is the blood of Jesus. A lot to give thanks for and tremendous motivation to worship the exalted King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Reasons to glorify Him and enjoy Him forever!

Oh, the wonderful blood of Jesus

Your wounds were gaping open,

‘couldn’t recognize you at first

And all I had to offer you was an insult or a curse

Your blood dripped down like poison

On the nauseated earth

Mercy’s War by Jon Foreman

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Recently I was reading the first chapter of first Peter when a phrase in verse 18 hit me – Empty Way of Life. Peter is telling his readers that now that you are believers you should be holy in all that you do (15) and live in reverent fear of God (17). In verse 18 he reminds them that before they were redeemed by the precious blood of Christ, they were living an empty way of life. Those four words – empty way of life – prompted me to begin thinking of our culture and all the people who think their lives are full, but are really empty. Here are a few thoughts for all of us to consider:

If your checking account, savings account and wallet are full of money, but you don’t know the riches of God’s love, your life is empty.

If your Christmas tree of life has been filled with beautiful ornaments like cars, houses, fine furniture, new appliances and electronic gadgets, but you don’t know the Christ of Christmas, your life is empty.

If your time is full of political podcasts, right wing books or left wing propaganda, and you know powerful people in high places, but you haven’t experienced the power of the Holy Spirit, your life is empty.

If you identify as LGBTQ but aren’t the least bit concerned about WWJD, then your life is empty.

If you give lots of money to charity and spend lots of time promoting good causes, but have not received God’s gift of forgiveness, your life is empty.

If you love things, wealth and power, but don’t love God and people, deeply, from the heart (verse 22), then your life is empty.

As is attributed to Pascal, “There is a God-shaped vacuum in the heart of each man which cannot be satisfied by any created thing but only by God the creator, made known through Jesus Christ.” Or, perhaps more accurately, “this infinite abyss can be filled only with an infinite and immutable object; in other words by God himself”.

This Christmas season may we make a greater effort to read God’s Word, meditate on his promises, ponder the incredible significance of the baby in the manger, internalize the importance of Emmanuel and thus enjoy truly full lives.

For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. 1 Peter 1:18-19

Happy Easter!

He is Risen!

The apostle Peter makes reference to the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ in the first three verses of his first letter.

In the first verse he writes that his letter is to God’s elect and in verse two he goes on to say, “who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to be obedient to Jesus and sprinkled with his blood.”

Whew. That’s a lot to take in. The part I have been focusing on these last few days is the sprinkled with his blood part. What did Peter have in mind when he wrote that? None of the followers of Jesus that were reading Peter’s letter had been sprinkled with his blood. What could he possibly mean? How did his early readers take that phrase? It must have something to do with the crucifixion, but what exactly?

The best book I have ever read on the crucifixion is called The Day the Revolution Began – Reconsidering the Meaning of Jesus’ Crucifixion, by N.T. Wright. With regards to “sprinkled blood” he writes about the lid of the Ark of the Covenant and says, “This was where God met with his people; and, in order for this to take place, it was where the priest cleansed the sanctuary from the defiling effects of the past sins of Israel with the sprinkled blood of the sacrifice.”

So one thing that Peter is trying to communicate with God’s elect is that through the shed blood of Jesus on the cross, the chosen ones are cleansed and can meet with God. Cleansed, meaning forgiven of all sins. Purified, white as snow. That’s how God now sees his followers through the lens of the sprinkled blood of Christ.

One other thing that probably came to mind when Peter wrote about the sprinkled blood, was the great Passover, when the Israelites killed a lamb and sprinkled its blood on the doorposts of their houses. Upon seeing the blood, the killer angel would pass by and spare any firstborn male in the house. The results of this last plague, was freedom for the Jews from the Egyptian slave masters. Similarly, the result of the sprinkled blood of Jesus is that God’s elect are set free from the Evil Slavemaster called Sin, and are free to worship the one, true God.

With regards to the resurrection, Peter writes, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.”

Wow! New birth. Living hope. No more living in sin, being totally controlled by passion and pride. Because of the resurrection, we have  new birth, old things have passed away and all things have become new.

Because of Christ’s resurrection we have a living hope. Not dead hopes that many people in the world depend on. Dead hopes like a new job will make me truly happy. Or a new soul mate will fulfill my life. Or a good education is what I really need to live the good life. Those are just a few examples of dead hopes that people rely on to get them through each day. With the reality of the resurrection, Messiah followers have a living hope that brings true and lasting joy now and all the way into eternity.

Because God loves us and wants us to be happy, he has chosen us, sprinkled us with the blood of Jesus, rose from the dead with new life and living hope in his wake! No wonder Peter exclaims, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!” and in verse six he writes, “In this you greatly rejoice…” And in verse eight, this, “You love him and believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy.”

Indeed we love him and rejoice greatly.

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God purifies his people in and through the shed blood of Jesus,

so that the covenant may be renewed,

and not just renewed,

but now effective for the whole world.

N.T. Wright in his book The Day the Revolution Began

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