THE PRECIOUS BLOOD OF JESUS
I Peter 1:18-19
Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
I Peter 1:18-19 (Holman) For you know that you were redeemed from your empty way of life inherited from the fathers, not with perishable things, like silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without defect or blemish.
Blood is the red fluid which circulates in our arteries, veins, and capillaries. It conveys oxygen and nourishment to tissues and removes from them carbon dioxide and other waste. Being essential to human existence, “blood” is often used as a symbol of life itself.
Because a perfect Savior freely poured out His life-blood as a ransom for sinners, “the blood of Christ” has extraordinary meaning to believers. For us, “the blood” is a phrase pregnant with staggering significance. It is shorthand, an abbreviated way of calling attention to the many benefits we enjoy due to Christ’s redemptive work accomplished on the cross.
Some object to the word “blood.” I object to their objection. Some denominations have deemed the word “blood” as gory butchery, and have taken from their hymnals songs which use the term. The cross is scandalous to the overly refined. We reject such finicky spirituality with a wave of the hand and press on to celebrate the theme we love. While ninnies whine, the rest of us go merrily on our way, singing, “There is power in the blood of the Lamb; The blood will never lose its power; Are you washed in the blood.”
I admit “the blood” is not a pleasant thought. It conjures up images of slaughter, of suffering a cruel, painful death. It hurts to know our praises rise only due to Jesus’ cries. We sing solely because He moaned, we rejoice because He wept.
Jesus’ death was horrible and gruesome. Many Easter pageants accurately depict it. Some mothers have to take children out of a pageant because they cry in scenes where soldiers are cruel to Jesus. I am thankful the audience contains hearts tender enough to cry about the cross. Someone ought to cry. Never become steeled to what the phrase “the blood” means.
We sometimes try to divert attention from the crucifixion’s horror. I asked a friend, Kevin Larkins, to landscape for our church a cross-shaped display of flowers. He declined, saying we would be sugar-coating and beautifying something about which we should never forget its terribleness and ugliness. I disagree with Kevin’s concern about flowers shaped as a cross, but I rejoice to hear a saint expressing concern about keeping Jesus’ death in proper perspective. It was a terrible remedy for a terrible malady.
Our sin was no small problem needing a little cure. We had a deadly disease requiring nothing less than the healing blood of divinity. We reverently say even Jesus could bring us nigh only one way, by His blood. God required a blood ransom. Jesus died “by the sharp sword of divine vengeance” (Spurgeon). The soldier’s spear in Jesus’ side pictured God’s sword sheathed in His heart.
“The blood” is everything to us. Taking out the blood of Christ would leave the New Testament without a theme and without a purpose. We glory in Jesus’ perfect, sinless life. We triumph in His victorious resurrection, and eagerly anticipate His triumphal return, but the heart and soul of everything we believers hold near and dear is grounded in Jesus’ death.
Let nothing preempt proclamation of the cross. Spend more time talking about the crucifixion than about any other particular subject. Jesus died for the sins of the world. Tell it to everyone everywhere everyday!
If we would draw sinners, preach the blood. It captures attention. Jesus said, “As for Me, if I am lifted up from the earth I will draw all people to Myself” (John 12:32). The crucifixion continues to be the magnetic appeal, the arresting attraction, of Christianity. It remains the most powerful wooing agent we have. The blood brought me into the kingdom. My dad’s telling of Jesus’ death on the cross broke my heart, and drew me to salvation.
Jesus’ beauty is epitomized at Calvary. He wins more love there than He ever wins elsewhere, because the story of the cross personalizes the Gospel. This is a huge part of what makes “the blood” amazing. The beauty of Golgotha is, it applies to each individual. Many have died heroic deaths, but telling their stories does not compare to talking of Calvary. The deaths of Socrates, Lincoln, and martyrs command no allegiance from us. But Jesus’ death is different. Of it everyone can say, “It was for me, as if I were the only one Jesus died for.” As we rightly portray Jesus’ blood, each sinner has to deal with the fact, “This One died for me, for my sin, in my place.” “The blood” is still amazing, and evermore shall be.
The shedding of Jesus’ blood was the worst crime ever perpetrated, the ultimate manifestation of human sin at its worst. It also served as the climactic display of God’s love. The event which exposed the true enormity of wickedness in human hearts revealed the vast love in God’s heart.
Do we wish to speak eloquently of God’s love? “The blood” says it all. To save us, God the Father gave up One who was the center of His heart. In turn, that One had to empty His heart of blood. “It flowed from His head, thorn-girt, that it might atone for sins of thought; from His hands and feet, fast nailed, that it might expiate sins of deed and walk; from His side, that it might wipe out the sins of our affections, as well as tell us of His deep and fervent love, which could not be confined within the four chambers of His heart, but must find vent in falling on the earth” (Meyer).
The shed blood of Jesus pictures a divine life laid down, a priceless gift given in behalf of others. However, it is all for nought in an individual’s life unless the benefits of the shed blood are personally appropriated.
Receiving Jesus’ sacrifice means saying, “It should have been my life poured out, and I acknowledge this by pouring out my life unto God.” Life is our most precious physical possession. God gave us His most precious possession in Jesus’ death, our response must be to offer nothing less than our most precious possession to God in return. We give Him our life to be saved, and continually give Him our life for ongoing transformation.