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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

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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