Saturday, October 17, 2009

The Mystery of the Blood

We live in the age that views a moon walk as old news. We speak of missions to explode incoming asteroids. We construct machines on the atomic level. We have bombs that can travel hundreds of miles and land in your mailbox. We have produced heated gas at billions of degrees. We have cloned animals. We have successfully flown an unmanned spacecraft between the planet Saturn and its own rings. The age in which we live is amazingly sophisticated and technologically futuristic. We are the Jetsons.

But in the midst of all this is the Christian faith. I realize there are now many and varied expressions of the Christian faith, however only ones that depend entirely and exclusively on the blood of Christ are authentic. We as believing followers of One called Jesus the Christ teach something very mysterious, and when juxtaposed against this modern world, it is very much unsophisticated. We believe, and have experienced, that the shed blood of this Jesus is the only way for sins to be forgiven, and it is the door to eternal life. Imagine such a thing! Men walk on the moon and we are still teaching some archaic and old fashioned religion that demands blood as redemption.

This is a great mystery, simple in its understanding, yet extraordinary and profound in its understanding. A paradox, to say the least. Majestic and infinitely noble; common and rustic; bourgeoisie and proletariat; and able to be understood on a narrative level while soaring far above our understanding on a spiritual level. The blood of Jesus is a glorious mystery. No wonder sinners reject the suggestion that the blood of Jesus is some kind of spiritual elixir.

Even if men admit that they are sinners, they recoil at the Neanderthal idea that the blood of a dying Jew two thousand years ago is the path to forgiveness and eternal life. Men will attempt to clean the stains of transgression by applying good works. They will assign a divine quality, one that will surely grant a heavenly entrance, to those who show a compassion for their fellow man and do some sort of humanitarian philanthropy. A man can be the vilest of sinners, but if he feeds the poor or raises money for the disadvantaged, he is lauded as a servant of God. But that is not what God has said.

There is something about that blood. I cannot imagine watching a crucifixion at all. I am averse to seeing blood, and I am sympathetic to human suffering. The gore and tearing of human skin repulses me, and hearing groans would make me hold my ears. To be aware that an innocent man was suffering and dying would just compound my revulsion. But to be aware, as aware as the human mind can be, that this was God in the flesh, is beyond my pitiful ability to even imagine, much less describe. To watch God suffer – think on that for a moment. To watch God suffer escapes even the imaginary level of experience. To watch God suffer…

Please, please, pause right here and contemplate that thought. God suffered. And please add two important and mindboggling words to that phrase. God suffered...for you. I can hardly see my screen right now, I cannot imagine such a thing, all I can know is that my sinful unworthiness is beyond all reason, and my sin was the suffering that God endured. I do not care about the sins of Hitler or Stalin or Manson, it is my sin, my awful sin, that causes brokenness and grief in my soul, while eliciting such praise and worship to Him who knew no sin but mine. There He hangs, there He suffers, there He dies.

And as we stand there and watch God suffer, innocent and without the hint of transgression or guilt, we are taken aback at the amount of blood that is pouring out from His side, His back, His feet, His hands, His pores, His head, and His face. He is awash in blood and completely covered in His own blood, flowing from those wounds that were undeserved yet embraced nonetheless. We are repulsed and sickened by the horror of that scene. This is God? This is the Creator? If this is God, well, this is the mystery of all mysteries.

But while we still stand there with our minds and hearts agape with wonder, we are informed that this blood that we are seeing is the agent, the only agent, by which we can enter God’s presence and live with Him eternally. But wait…if this is God, then how can this blood, spilled by our own wicked hands, be the redemptive instrument by which we can gain eternal life with…with…this same God?? Are you saying that what we did to God is our redemption?? Are you saying that what we did to God is our redemption??!! And are you suggesting that this God used our own sin that put Him to death to accomplish His redemptive will for us?? But now I ask you this: How can this blood wash away all of our sins and make us acceptable in the sight of a Holy God??

There it is, a monumental mystery. Why blood? How can we understand a blood sacrifice, so connected to archaic and uncivilized religions, as the exclusive avenue to what every religion seeks, eternal life? No gold, no silver, no knowledge, no philanthropy, no science, and no self sacrifice is considered in this redemption – only blood. And not just any blood; it must be this blood, the blood of this particular man called Jesus. And blood, which under normal circumstances causes such a mess and stains almost everything on which it comes into contact, is considered a cleansing agent? This blood cleanses and forgives all the sins, iniquities, and transgressions that any believing sinner has ever committed?

A mystery to be sure. But when a sinner believes in this Jesus, and when His blood, in the spirit, has been applied to his soul, the sinner may not completely understand the mystery, but he now recognizes the truth that this blood is indeed the door to eternal life. The mystery still stands, however now the sinner has experienced the mystery and has a profound recognition of its power, love, and grace. Oh sinner, have you been plunged beneath the everlasting flow of this blood with all its power and mystery? Have you felt the unmistakable inward voice of God’s Spirit drawing you to this Jesus and His blood?

Yes, men may walk upon the moon, and in the coming days there may be feats of human technology that astound the world at large. But do not get carried away with the colossal triumphs of men thinking that these accomplishments represent a modern and successful Tower of Babel. When all is said and done, and when time as we know it rolls up its tent and disappears, eternity will be the infinite witness that only the blood of Jesus the Christ redeems a sinner and grants him life everlasting. And that life will be forever in the presence of the Author and Shedder of that blood. How will you know which one is Jesus in heaven?

Look for the wounds in His hands, the wounds that spilled that blood, and that, my friends, is the Lamb of God that was slain and which was, and is, and will be forever The Redeemer.
And when the saint next to you asks how you were granted an entrance into God’s throne you can tell him simply, “The blood, brother, nothing but the blood.
In 1975 I was a committed sinner who cared little for man and less for God.
While watching Billy Graham on television the Holy Spirit reached out and drew my heart to Christ and His blood.
From that day I have never been the same.
I was cleansed by the blood of Jesus the Christ.
Yes, it still is a mystery.

Halleluiah for that mystery!!!

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