Hebrews chapter 9
What does the Blood of Christ mean?
...and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead-Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath. 1 Thessalonians 1:10
Pure and simple, the blood of Jesus was spilt as a sacrifice in our place so that we could have the necessary redemption to be saved! Jesus makes it possible for us to be forgiven of our sins and saved from God's wrath for our sins. Therefore, through the blood, we receive grace-salvation and eternal life. Thus, we are covered by His atonement that makes it possible for our redemption, only through Christ's blood and suffering, which was the sacrifice for our reconciliation, to bind us in good relationship back to our Creator and Lord (Lev. 17:11; Isa. 1:18; 53:6; Luke 22:20; Rom. 3:23-25; 8:1; 5:9; I Cor. 5:7; Eph. 1:7; Col.1:20; 1 Thess. 1:10; Heb. 7:27; 9:14, 22; I John 1:7; 2:2; Rev. 13:8; 22:14)!
In the book of Hebrews, we are shown an image of Christ who presides as our High Priest. He came before the Father as our Advocate to mediate on our behalf by being the Temple, the Priest, and the Sacrifice; He shed His own blood for our salvation and eternal hope and rest. He became the perfect temple of God and the atoning cover offering as the prime sacrifice for our sins, securing our eternal deliverance. By this action, Jesus' shed blood purifies us forever by washing our sins away from God's view and presence, where animal sacrifice only made temporary covering. Prior to this, the only way to remove our sins from God's sight was an animal sacrifice, where our furry friends once stood in for our Lord as a sacrifice; now, the true Sacrifice of our true Friend has come. He is real and here for us now, and we are cleansed by His deed and love. Even though this is prime salvation-message material, the image of this in secular society is more prevalent than ever (Heb. 9:11-28).
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
Have you wondered why the vampire genre phenomena is so common and even overstated and has had such a role of prominence for the last couple of decades seeming to climax now? There have been dozens of popular movies, scores of TV shows, hundreds of popular books, even children's characters catering to millions of fans to a character type that is mostly soul-less, evil, perverted, and unholy to say the least! Perhaps the innate need to have one's soul cleansed of sin gets perverted in the vampire imagery as a substitute for a desperate heart that does not want the Truth but rather a corrupt and cheap imitation.
Consider what a vampire is: it is a person who is killed by being bitten by another vampire, but because they did not suck all of the blood out and then put some of their own special vampire blood back into that person, he or she revives. This is called "undead" and these new beings scour the earth; some by this genre (type of writing) are considered "good" and are mostly immortal. But, there is more. They die and their souls are gone and a demon or some unholy entity takes over the body, personality, and persona; and, to be honest, as heinous this is, it does make for good fiction, thus, the reason it is so popular. Writers like Anne Rice, who considers herself a Christian (which may or not be valid, I have no way to judge that), has used this genre to communicate the human condition and the epic struggle between life, death, and the choices between good and bad we all face. The drama of this vampire character is epic and captivating; but why? Yes, it makes fascinating books and movies, but there are better characters out there.
Have you considered the vampire connection to Christ as Lord Redeemer? No, vampires are not the image of Christ or a "type" to His drama of redemption, but there are a lot of similarities that cause one to wonder. And, if one would carefully craft a substitute for Christ, to steal His thunder and air of intrigue and wonderment, vampires fit the bill. The writers of this genre may be seeking too, knowingly or unknowingly, to redesign redemption of people with a falsehood using the imagery that belongs to a real Savior. Our Savior and LORD came to save us by His blood, while vampires come to take our lives and steal our blood for evil.
Yes, some vampire characters are portrayed as activists of good, some even have souls; some seek redemption and to do good. But, let us get away from that and turn our attention to the real blood sucker, our sinful nature, and the real life giver who gives His blood for the redemption of our souls and the covering of our sin to give us new life-Jesus Christ!
It is all about the Blood!
...for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood-to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished- Romans 3:23-25
It has been said by many great people that it is all about the blood; plead the blood of Jesus! The Bible says it is so! Perhaps Anne Rice, as a writer, may see this as true and uses the vampire genre for good, captivating fiction; since I have not read her works (nor will I), I can't say. But, what we have to realize is even more captivating and of importance-who our Lord is and what His Blood does for us. Christ shed His blood to craft the "undead" Christian; His blood gives us the personal atonement, the cleansing ritual and purification that the priests of the Law prior to Christ had to go through; now, Christ is our Purification. Christ's blood was shed to please God's wrath, His price so we could be forgiven.
It is all about God's wrath, His righteous anger toward sin, our pending and just judgment that is coming, and that it will become a reality. No one can escape this-either His love or His wrath (Joel 2:11; Mal. 3:2). This is something Christians need not fear as Christ covers our sin for us (Zeph. 1:14-18; Nah. 1:6; Mal. 3:2; Rom. 1:18; 3:9-23; 6:23; Rev.19:15). There is hope and assurance when our trust is in Christ and His righteousness. He is our hope, even when the very foundations of the universe are collapsing around and under us. When our hope is in Christ, nothing can shake us (Matt. 25:46; Luke 12:32-34; John 1:6-18; 1 Cor. 7:29-31; 2 Thess.1:7-9; Heb. 12:25-29; Rev. 6:16-17; 11:18; 14:10; 16:19; 19:15).
The Blood of Jesus rescues us from God's wrath and saves us, because His blood is spilt from His sacrificial death, and following resurrection, appeased the wrath of God for us. Because He did this, we can receive salvation, "undead" because we have eternal life, as well as the joy and honor of receiving forgiveness for our sins. God was more merciful with us than we could ever be with anyone else, or could ever deserve. No matter what we go through from persecution or loss, we could never even catch a glimpse of what Christ has given to us through grace (Matt. 5: 3-12; Rev. 1:5-6; Heb. 10:19-25).
The cross is the bite of sacrifice He takes on our behalf that pours His life into us. The totality of Christ's sacrifice and atoning work and its saving power is given to us who do not deserve it; we are given this unmerited gift, as Martin Luther stated, as a "sweet exchange" of our sin for His righteousness. Jesus' death became the ultimate, sufficient, atoning sacrifice worthy to appease God's wrath for our sin. His blood became the means for our reconciliation and our atonement; it covered our sin so we could become holy in God's sight and thus have a personal, effectual relationship with Him (Rom. 5:6-10; 7:4; 8:3; 1 Cor. 1:18; 2 Cor. 5:18-21; Gal. 6:12-14; Eph. 1:7; 2:2-16; Heb. 9:14; 10:10; 1 Pet. 1:19).
Why? God demanded blood for payment of sins in order for Him to grant atonement and resulting forgiveness; it was the shed blood of Jesus that paid the price that God demanded, one that we could not pay, and confirmed His new covenant with us in the age of grace. He purifies our dead works so we can become servants of the Living God. He wills Himself to us as His death makes us alive. Christ's blood was shed to please God's price so we could be forgiven. The Hebrew Old Testament Law and the Tent and then the Temple were just copies and shadows of He who was to come-He who now has come; Christ is here with us now and forevermore. His work was once and for all; there is no longer a need for the repeated priestly acts and animal and other rituals and sacrifices. His one-time offering was good enough (Lev. 16:6-16; Num. 19; Isa. 52:15; 53:4-12).
The entire point of Jesus' coming to earth was so He would fulfill the Law that was predicted by the Old Testament and frustrated by the disobedience of both priests and observers. It only worked when the people did what they were supposed to do and no one was ever able to do so. Animal sacrifices were merely symbolic of Christ's coming, redemptive work to which we now have access. All we need do is respond by our faith, trust, and obedience. For true repentance to take place, it must come from our willingness to do so as it can't be forced or coerced; and yet, repentance was then and is now necessary for the forgiveness of sins. Thus, not the Law, not our works, not animal sacrifices can fulfill our need to be cleansed of sin; nothing is adequate for our redemption because nothing can be substituted for what Christ came to do and did (1 Sam. 15:22; Psalm 51:16; Prov. 21:3; Isa. 1:10-17; Jer. 11:15; Hosea 6:6; Amos 5:21-27; Micah 6:6-8; Rom. 8:3-4; Heb. 8:8-12).
Thus, the blood is essential, because when we become Christians, either by birth in a Christian family and receiving Christ as a child or through evangelism as an adult, a time must come when the reality of who we are in Christ and what His blood has done for us hits home in power and conviction. We receive Him by our faith, and His blood makes it possible for our transformation. Our part is to turn this into a practical application of our faith that just does not happen on its own, rather by His empowerment. Something wondrous must take place within us to transform us. In other words, His Blood was spilt for you and me; through it, we become the people of God by His work in us first, in order that we are capable of responding in gratitude and willing to do the work of God as in worshiping and serving Him. Just as Philippians, chapter 2 tells us (which is about taking what He gives and building upon it), His impact on us will result in our imitating Him so we are impacting back to Him and to others around us too (Eph. 4:1).
What does the Blood of Christ mean?
...and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. Colossians 1:20
The blood of Christ echoes in and now takes the place of the Old Testament rituals of sacrifice and the sprinkling of blood for redemption. It was the initiation of the Covenant of God to Israel; now, it is the Covenant of God to us. It also now means we have a promise that we are forgiven. This is an image of how Israel was redeemed out of Egypt and led into the Promised Land. It was the blood of the Passover Lamb that protected them; now, Christ is the ultimate depiction and application of this¾Jesus saves (Gen. 4:10; 15:9-18; Ex. 13:1-16; 24:4-8; Lev. 12-15; 17; Num. 19; 28:1-5; Jer. 34:18-20; Mark 10:45; Luke 9:23-24; 23:34; 1 Cor. 6:20; Gal. 3:15; Heb. 9:11-14, 18-28; 12:24; 1 Peter 1: 1-2; 1 John 1:7; Rev. 1:5; 5: 9; 7:14)!
The Blood is what ratified the covenant-what Christ did on the cross-as Moses pointed to in the ceremonies and Law and what the Prophets predicted. Christ's blood was our substitute for the payment of our sins. That blood was required, and has been eternally and continually given to us by Christ. This is the prime part of the essential, Christian salvation message. Consider that everything is a sacrifice. The sacrificial system was the essential ritual that cleansed people's sins prior to Christ's coming. Burnt offerings of animals, grains, and even baked goods were offered up to deal with that sin, and appease God's wrath. These sacrifices were for personal purification and/or collective atonement for the town or the nation. They had to be true sacrifices, where the person would miss and lose out, suffer a loss, and give up any right to the item offered up to God. They had to be pure, without blemish, and flawless. The entire universe is a testament to sacrifice, as the lamp's filament is sacrificing itself to give me light to write this article, and our sun burns its finite and limited hydrogen fuel to warm our earth. All of creation and life is due to sacrifices of some kind. We may not see it; nevertheless, it is there. We need to acknowledge the importance of sacrifice, our Lord's sacrifice, and our hope to come.
Christ's blood was shed to please God's price and just wrath for sin so we could be forgiven. The entirety of the Law, all of its sacred rituals and furnishings, were meant to expiate (make amends) for God's just wrath by appeasing Him with the substitution of blood shed by animal sacrifices. This, in its entirety, this system also pointed to Christ and showed us His work; He is the better sanctuary and sacrifice for our salvation and service. His blood is what purchased our redemption and gave us our salvation. Previously, the work of sacrifice was never finished; with Christ, it is finished! God's holiness, justness, and pureness cannot be contaminated by our sin. Yet, He allowed mankind the provision of knowing Him and being temporarily cleansed as He pointed them to the One who would permanently cleanse-Christ (Num. 6:14; 1 Kings 6:22; Heb. 6:5; 10:1-2; 12:22-24; 1 Pet. 1:19).
What does the Blood of Christ do?
Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through him! Romans 5:9
Jesus became "The Sacrificial Lamb," the only effective and ultimate sacrifice; He takes away the sins of the world. The sacrificial animal of the Passover in the Old Testament was the foreshadowing of what Christ would do and has done for us. The price was invaluable and could not have been paid by human measures. He was Holy, blameless, pure. Jesus Christ became the perfect substitute, sacrificing Himself once for all. Because He was sinless, He did not have to make any personal atonement or sacrifice for His sins, which a human priest had to do. Now, Christ is our atonement cover; He really is these things, whereas the human representative could only pretend-to a point (Ex. 12:3; Isa. 53:7; John 1:29; 1 Cor. 5:7; Col. 1:19-23; Heb. 7:11-28; 9:12-14,26; 10:2, 10).
Jesus, who was without sin, identified with men and lived a life on our behalf to save us. He deals with our sins effectually and completely. Thus, He understands our lives, situations, and circumstances; He can relate to our plight and gives us His hand and heart. Jesus handled temptation and remained sinless-something we could not do; not even the Law could fully or permanently atone for us (Ex. 29:36-42; Heb. 2:18; 4:15-5:3).
There are two main theological aspects going on; "Atonement" and "Propitiation" for sin that reconciles us to God. This is the message of Romans 3:23-25. The primary theme is "Justification is by faith alone;" there is no righteousness apart from the Law. Only through Christ's work can our debt be paid. So, how did God, who is holy and pure, cleanse us dirty rotten scoundrels? Would He not be affected by our sin? Jesus led the perfect sinless life on our behalf, called "Propitiation;" thus, He, in His perfection, took our place in life and sin by His death. His Atonement covered us from God's wrath and covered God (protected) from being affected by our sin.
Atonement means to "cover" and to reconcile two opposing parties with an offering or gift that is sacrificial in nature. Christ's atonement literally is by His shed blood that is sacrificial in nature; it covers our sin so that God does not see it and is not affected by it, so He can forgive, give us grace, and bring us into the kingdom. We are reconciled to God through Christ, who made amends to "cover us" and please God's wrath on our behalf. Everyone has sinned and everyone needs atonement. Thus, our redemption is through Christ's blood and suffering which was the sacrifice to bind us in good relationship with our Creator and Lord. We model this by seeking to reconcile with others (Lev. 17:11; Job 15:14-16; Psalm 5:4-6; 32:1; 85:2; Isa. 53:4-6; 64:6; Jer. 44:4; Hab. 1:13; Matt. 27:37; Luke 22:37; John 2:2; 4:10; Rom.10: 2-3; Gal. 3:13; 4:4; Eph. 1:7; Col. 1:14-22; 2:14; Heb. 2:17; 9:11-15; Rev. 1:5)!
Propitiation or "propitiatory sacrifice" simply means that God takes our place, that He lived the perfect life in our behalf to fulfill the Law. This act is divinely initiated. Thus our righteousness "covering" comes only by faith in Christ as He sits in our place paying our ransom to God the Father for our sins. This is the basis for the reformational slogan that challenged and solidified what the Bible and the Christian faith was all about, "Sola Fide," by faith alone. We cannot be saved by our own actions. We cannot rely on our own efforts, skills, personal connections, family background, or our beliefs. Only Christ can wash us clean and declare us righteous, so we are saved from our sins (Luke 22:20; Rom. 3:21‑26; 8:1; Eph. 2:8-9; 1 Pet. 2:4-10)!
By all this we are redeemed, as in the freeing of a slave by the paying of his/her debt. We are freed from the bondage of sin by the great cost of His sacrifice of His shed blood that gives us "justification." He frees us from the "curse of the law" and "wickedness" (Ex. 13:13; 21:30; Matt. 20:28; Mark 10:45; Rom. 3:24; 8:2; Gal. 3:13; Eph. 1:7; Col 1:14; Titus 2:14; Heb. 9:15; Rev. 5:9).
All this is by the work of our Lord that leads to our reconciliation. God has paid our penalties so the severed relationship between humanity and God is now repaired and restored. The basic Gospel message is that we are all sinners and have no worth, merit, or ability to receive salvation. So, in God's mercy, He sent us His Son, whose sacrifice paid our debt of sin. We were once His enemies, but by being reconciled, we are brought back to a perfect relationship with Him. This also refers to order and not just salvation, as all powers and authorities are subordinate to God. God reconciles all things and is supreme over all things (Gen. 3; Rom. 3:21-26; 5:10-12; 8:18-21, 37-39; 2 Cor. 5:17-21; Eph. 2:2; 6:12; Col. 1: 19-23; 2:9-15; 1 Pet. 1:13-21; 2 Pet. 3:10; 1 John 2:1; Rev. 21:1).
This is about the forgiveness we receive; just as God redeemed Israel, He also redeems us by paying for our sins by what Christ has done through His shed blood. God gives us a "pardon" by grace alone and grants us a "remission" of our sins to which we respond by our faith and repentance (Psalm 103:12; Jer. 25:5-7; Micah 7:19; Rom. 8:23; 1 Cor. 4:8-13; 2 Cor. 5:19-21; Gal. 6:12; Eph. 1:7; 2:13-16; Col. 1:21-22; 2:13, 17, 20; 3:9-10; Heb. 9:14; 1 Pet. 1:19).
Jesus came to earth to die as a ransom to pay our debt of sin, become a substitute for our death, and fulfill His role as our High Priest, which means He paid the payment that we could not do for ourselves. This inaugurated the New Covenant (Mark 10:45; 1 Cor. 1:23-25; 1 Tim. 2:5-6; Heb. 9:15). This sacrifice of Christ does not manipulate and/or force God to love and accept us, but God is the one who initiated it, and it is given to us freely by grace. We receive it by faith, and we respond with gratitude and growth in our faith (John 3:16). This is the full expression of love from God's heart. We are reconciled to God, whose righteousness paid the price for the justification for our sins through the sacrifice of His Son, who removed the defilement of our sin from the very core of our being (Rom. 3:21-26).
This is the full extent of his love; "full extent" is what Jesus was about to show-His sacrifice for our sins! Jesus took on the righteous wrath of God for sin and paid the penalty, sacrificing Himself for us. Jesus not only set the example, but more importantly, also redeemed us. In addition, this refers to the "substitutionary atonement," which is what "propitiation" is all about. Christ was the innocent, sacrificial lamb who died for the guilty-for our sins, something which we could not do for ourselves. The sacrifice of Christ was for us (Isa 53:4-12; Mark 10:45; John 13:1; 1Cor. 1:23-25; 1 Tim. 2:6; Heb. 9:15; 1 Pet. 2:18-25)!
Jesus gets into our hearts and minds so we are transformed and renewed in Him. He purifies us so we can know Him more deeply, and in so doing, become our best for His glory. This is the quintessential factor in our spiritual growth. We have to be formed in Christ, and He has to have a deep impact on us so our life is changed. We no longer rely on our feelings and experiences; rather, we seek Him and His Word for all of our life and decisions so we are people of maturity-not tossed by the winds of society and pride or seeking to create a façade rather than being a real person whose heart is growing in Him. This comes from trusting in His redeeming power, in His blood that saves. He is the Spotless Lamb who saves; we respond by our trusting faith and obedience in and for Him.
© 1998, 2011, R.J. Krejcir Ph.D., Into Thy Word Ministries www.intothyword.org/