The Priceless Blood of Jesus
Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
Palm Sunday night, April 1, 2007
Hebrews 9:6-8 (Holman) These things having been set up this way, the priests enter the first room repeatedly, performing their ministry. But the high priest alone enters the second room, and that only once a year, and never without blood, which he offers for himself and for the sins of the people committed in ignorance. The Holy Spirit was making it clear that the way into the holy of holies had not yet been disclosed while the first tabernacle was still standing.
Priests ministered constantly in the Tabernacle. Daily they dressed the lamp, replenished oil, replaced wicks, and offered incense on the golden altar while the people prayed outside. Weekly, priests replaced the showbread.
Annually, on the Day of Atonement, the High Priest entered the Holy of Holies by himself. This was the High Priest’s climactic assignment. It secured forgiveness for the people’s sins. He entered the Holy of Holies as their representative, based on the power of a life given as a blood sacrifice.
The Tabernacle thundered one message loud and clear: more is needed. Generation after generation, animal after animal, century after century, the ritual went on and on, but the veil separating God from people remained. This inability to open the veil screamed something more was needed. When Jesus died, the temple veil immediately tore from top to bottom (Matthew 27:51) as a supernatural, symbolic proof of Jesus’ words, “I am the Way” (John 14:6).
The only veil separating us from God now is one “we weave by our own sin” (Meyer). The real barrier to access is inward, a problem of the heart. Sin keeps us from free flowing access to God. When clean within, we are free to approach God without reservation due to the shed blood of Jesus.
Hebrews 9:9-11 This is a symbol for the present time, during which gifts and sacrifices are offered that cannot perfect the worshiper’s conscience. They are physical regulations and only deal with food, drink, and various washings imposed until the time of restoration. Now the Messiah has appeared, high priest of the good things that have come. In the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands (that is, not of this creation).
The Tabernacle ritual was an object lesson. It did not provide holiness, but pointed to something that did, a remedy which would be revealed in the New Covenant. The cure was Jesus who, based on His own shed blood, became our High Priest, the Source of all our spiritual blessings.
Jesus is the true cornucopia, heaven’s horn of plenty. In mythology, nurses fed infant Zeus goat milk. In honor of the nurses’ care, Zeus gave them a goat horn which could be filled with whatever the owner wished. Mythology imagined a horn of plenty. Believers found one. Jesus is our horn of spiritual plenty.
Hebrews 9:12 He entered the holy of holies once for all, not by the blood of goats and calves, but by His own blood, having obtained eternal redemption.
Jesus’ blood is the heart, the inmost sanctuary of our faith (Saphir). Blood is an amazing fluid intimately associated with a more amazing phenomenon called life. Blood became associated with death only after Adam and Eve sinned.
Jesus’ blood was different from any other. His shed blood affected all humanity. The infinite worth of His blood was due to the infinite worth of His life. He was the God-man, God’s anointed Prophet, Priest, and King, God’s only begotten Son, the beloved Son, in whom God was well pleased. He who died at Calvary was God incarnate. The Person of Jesus was so great that His blood turned the throne of God into a mercy-seat, and filled Heaven with saints.
Jesus fulfilled the High Priest’s Day-of-Atonement ministry. He entered the Holy of Holies by blood so powerful that the ritual never needs repeating.
Jesus had no flaws or sins in Himself. He could have returned to Heaven at any moment of His earthly life, but without His shed blood He would have returned alone. To be our forerunner, our High Priest, He had to enter Heaven as One who bore sin, and put it away by pouring out His life. Our only hope of entering Heaven is the High Priest who went before us “by His own blood.”
Redemption is payment made to deliver a person from slavery. To redeem a slave, someone has to pay a heavy price. In our case, Jesus paid the ransom, cancelling the debt to God we could not pay. We who were slaves, in bondage to sin, death, and Hell, were redeemed at a price.
We do not fully appreciate redemption. We were born free, and live in a society without slavery. If we could go back 150 years to the corner of Sixth and Locust in St. Louis, we would appreciate redemption more. Second Baptist Church was on one corner there, slave bins and an auction block on another. With church windows open, Pastor Galusha Anderson preached on Sunday evenings for emancipation while workmen prepared the bins for Monday morning auctions.
Redemption had meaning for those in the bins. One of their heroes was another great Baptist preacher, John Barry Meachum, who worked to buy freedom from slavery for himself and his dad. He came to St. Louis, where he redeemed his family, spent 30 years buying slaves, training them, and setting them free.
We, too, have been redeemed. We were slaves of Earth, but have been freed, adopted as God’s sons, and can now claim Heaven as our home. How can we be this audacious? Because Jesus entered God’s presence in our behalf.
Jesus entered through His own blood. Will anyone dare try to enter Heaven apart from His blood? Would a sinner ignore Jesus’ blood, and try to enter by some other self-appointed means? Dare we say good works or church membership have more influence with God than Jesus’ blood? We offer no worse insult to God than to try to approach Him apart from the blood of His Son.
Access to the Father is impossible apart from Jesus’ blood. To spurn it is spiritual suicide. In World War II, a German prisoner’s wounds required a blood transfusion. The Nazi hated the Allies and demanded to know what kind of blood they intended to give him. When told it was British blood, he refused it, and died.
Some do the same with Jesus’ blood. Refusing it, they die. In spiritual death with no means of access to God, they are separated from Him forever.
Hebrews 9:13-14 For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who are defiled, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, how much more will the blood of the Messiah, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse our consciences from dead works to serve the living God?
Old Testament rituals removed ceremonial uncleanness, but could not deal with the inner stain of sin. A deeper cleansing agent was needed.
“How much more” begins an unanswerable question. How much difference is there between the blood of animals versus the blood of Jesus? This “how much more” forces us to contemplate a vastness impossible to measure.
The blood of Jesus pictures love carried to the extreme. It is the ultimate picture of the salvation He made possible for us through His death.
Jesus “offered Himself.” Sacrificial animals did not consciously volunteer to die, but Jesus was neither unconscious nor reluctant. Before coming to earth, He knew exactly what would happen. He voluntarily indwelt a body He knew would bleed and die. In love, Jesus willingly chose to offer the greatest sacrifice conceivable for human sins.
He shed His blood to “cleanse our consciences.” It is awful to feel guilty, and the better a person is, the more it grieves them to be consciously in sin.
Guilt can eat into the soul like acid or a gnawing worm, and burn like coals of fire. At such times, we cannot measure the distance between God and us, but conscience describes the gulf with a scream of one short syllable, “Sin!” We cannot pray effectively in this state because sin makes us dread approaching God.
When we sin, we don’t doubt God’s love, but we know something has gone awry in our relationship with Him. We can try to argue and bargain with ourselves, or with God, but until the burden is lifted, we are miserable.
We see ourselves in the agony of Lady Macbeth, who incited her husband to kill the king. Overwhelmed by guilt and unbearable anguish, in horror she cried, “Out, damned spot! Out, I say!” Pointing to her hand, she moaned, “Here’s the smell of blood still: all the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand.”
She was right. Nothing in this world could cleanse her stain. Purging the stain of guilt is no simple task. Water and ritual cannot reach into the warp and woof of our lives. Sin soils way down deep in us. Its stain is hard to reach.
Lady Macbeth needed something beyond this world. We do, too. The good news is, cleansing is available. It can be found in only one place. Only one remedy can penetrate as deep as our pollution: the infinitely powerful blood of Christ. Only the blood of God’s own Son can cleanse a sin-spot. Jesus’ death communicates a powerful cleansing force which reaches deep within us.