As we prepare to celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus at Easter, Colin Dye reminds us of the awesome and unlimited power of Christ's shed blood.
Early in their history, the people of Israel were slaves in Egypt. Eventually, God revealed himself to Moses and appointed him to lead the people away from slavery and into the promised land of Canaan. Moses spoke to Pharaoh, the Egyptian ruler, but he would not let the people of Israel go. So God sent a series of warning 'plagues' to Egypt.
When Pharaoh still refused to release the Israelites, God announced that he would send a final 'plague' of death on the country. There would be a supreme act of holy judgement on Egypt and a merciful act of deliverance for Israel. God would act decisively to demonstrate his love and his justice, his grace and his holiness.
God told Moses that each Israelite household should take a perfect lamb or goat, kill it, and sprinkle some of its blood on the outside doorposts and lintels of their houses.
Sprinkled with the blood That night, God passed through Egypt and killed the firstborn male of every human family and every farm animal. But he passed over all those homes where the doorways were splashed with blood. There was unlimited salvation from death for all the households whose homes were sprinkled with the blood of a lamb.
Just as Adam and Eve in Eden had personally to accept the blood-stained clothes from God, so each Jewish family had personally to act on God's provision of the blood sacrifice.
They each had to sacrifice their most valuable animal and sprinkle its blood on their doorposts: this was their personal, faith-filled response to God's outstretched grace.
The Bible records that God rewarded his people's obedient sacrifices with unlimited blessing - this time with a personal salvation from death and a corporate salvation from slavery.
Pointers to the cross As we look at Exodus chapter 12 and read the details of the Passover we can see an amazing picture of the cross and our unlimited salvation! • There was only one way of escape from God's just wrath, and that was by God's gracious provision • God's merciful love passed over every blood-marked home to shield them from his wrath • the people of Israel belonged to God because they'd been purchased by the blood and so were consecrated to his service • the only survivors were those in homes where a perfect lamb had died instead of them • the survivors were those who'd appropriated the blood • the sacrifice not only dealt with their past bondage, it also provided them with a new life of freedom And it is still the same today! The judgement of God and the sentence of death hangs over every household today. There isn't a person alive on earth who doesn't live in the fear and knowledge of death. The wonderful news, however, is that the perfect Lamb has been sacrificed at Calvary; and that all those who believe his blood was shed to achieve their unlimited salvation will be spared when the terrible day of judgement finally comes.
Claim the blood Make sure that you claim his blood, for yourself and for your entire household. Do it now!
Sprinkle the blood of the Lamb over your life and over your home. Place it over yourself and your loved ones. Live continually in the safety of its covering. And make sure that you spread the good news of Jesus' saving blood to all your friends and relations. Once you've started to believe in the blood, and have personally appropriated it, you'll begin to sleep easy at night. You'll rest in the knowledge that his blood is the guarantee of your unlimited salvation and your unlimited life of freedom. Every appearance of the crimson thread of the blood in the Old Testament prepares the way for the New Testament declaration that Jesus Christ shed his blood as a sacrifice for you - and for all people everywhere. All the Jewish sacrifices are meant to point you to Christ: they should help you grasp the significance of his death, and understand why he died. What they don't do, however, is reveal precisely who Jesus is. Most unbelievers think that he was merely a man; while many believers imagine that he was somehow independent of God.
Right and wrong ideas The problem with these ideas is that they lead people to misunderstand the blood. Never think that, on the cross, Jesus was trying to pacify an angry God and grasp a begrudging salvation. And never think that an unjust God killed an innocent Jesus in place of the real culprits.
The story of Abraham and Isaac on Mount Moriah paved the way for the truth. The Father was ready to sacrifice his beloved Son and the adult Son was prepared to be the willing victim. Their wills were one: the Father gave the Son and the Son freely gave himself. The Father sacrificed the Son and the Son willingly sacrificed himself.
God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them. 2 Corinthians 5:19
This should help you to realise that the blood sacrifice on the cross was not made by Christ alone or by God alone, but by God acting in Christ. In their love for you, the Father, the Son and the Spirit worked together in grace and harmony in the shedding of their own blood.
God in Christ Some people have suggested that God died on the cross, but common sense should convince you that the immortal God could not die. God simply had to become fully human (without ceasing to be fully God) if he was to die as your substitute atoning sacrifice, and be both Judge and innocent victim, both high priest and perfect lamb. Jesus Christ, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a servant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled himself and become obedient to the point of death even the death of the cross. Philippians 2:6-8
When you think about it carefully, it should be obvious that only a human should atone for your sins (because it's you who's sinned). And that only God could accomplish the necessary atonement (since it's he who's justly demanded it).
God-in-Christ, therefore, is the only substitute who can accomplish your atonement, because Jesus is the only One in whom the should and the could are united by his fully-human, fully-divine nature.
Your substitute on the cross The good news, dear friend, is that a substitute has taken your place, offered your confession, borne the pain of your sin, and endured the penalty due to your disobedience. And this substitute wasn't an animal, nor was it Christ alone or God alone. Instead, the substitute who died in your place was God-in-Christ, the fully human, fully divine being who was uniquely qualified to represent human you and divine God, and to mediate between you.
When God gave his Son for you, he graciously gave himself! When he sent his Son for you, he graciously came himself! God humbled himself to become - in-and-through his Son - human flesh, and to endure and accept the terrible consequences of all your sin. In his amazing grace, the Judge personally intervened and endured the penalty which he'd imposed upon you. In order to save you from death, my friend, God-in-Christ graciously substituted himself and shed his blood for you.
How can you respond to the cross and the blood with anything other than total commitment?
“I confess and declare that I owe everything to the precious blood of Jesus Christ, who died in my place, once-and-for-all, on the cross of Calvary.
I thank You, my Father, for graciously providing the blood of sacrifice so that I can dwell in Your presence forever. I thank You, my Jesus, for willingly donating every drop of Your blood so that I can always have Your life flowing through me. I thank You, my God, for providing the Passover Lamb to die for my life and my deliverance. I sprinkle his blood over my life, over my home, over my family, over all that is dear to me. I receive by faith the unlimited salvation and unlimited blessings that his shed blood brings to me. I affirm before all the host of heaven that the precious blood of Jesus permanently guarantees my forgiveness, eternally removes my guilt, and beckons me into the welcoming presence of God.
In Your grace and mercy, through the great power of the blood, You have provided me with unlimited life and freedom. I accept Your gift. I receive Your gift.
I depend on Your gift. I rejoice in Your gift. Praise Your wonderful name.”