I have no problem admitting that I am squeamish. The dictionary definition of squeamish is “Easily made to feel, faint, or uncomfortable, especially by unpleasant images, such as the sight of blood.”
I am grateful that when Scripture talks about the crucifixion of Jesus it does so with muted sadness, rather than through the technicolor nightmare of Mel Gibson's “The Passion.”
That's not to say I am unaware or unappreciative of the horror Christ went through upon the Cross. But I really don't need to see in graphic detail what happens to victims of horrendous acts of violence to understand their intensity.
When I began to attend church, talk about the “blood of Jesus” made me feel extremely uncomfortable. As I learned about the Old Testament and of sacrifices and offerings it did not offer me any “warm fuzzy feelings” towards God. Rather it caused me to question what kind of divine being could God be, if he was so angry that his wrath could only be quenched by the blood of innocent victims. Such sounded more like the script of a low budget horror movie than an uplifting spiritual truth.
I never managed to make the connection between “blood” and “sin.” I considered “Sin” to be a rather frivolous notion. As though our wrongdoing was something we should treat lightly, because we're all “Only human.” We all make mistakes. We all mess up. As long as we can get along then that's O.K. Right? Not so much. Scripture tells us “The payoff of sin is death.” (Romans 6:23 NET).
The “power in the blood” of the sacrificial system was that people could not ignore the fact that sin was a terrible thing. That our wrongdoing and selfishness always carried a toll. Sin was and is a killer. A destroyer.
When you took an offering to the priest it was a horrible, visible reminder... a bloody mess that no longer had the breath of life in it... and you could not ignore the message that the consequence of sin was that not only that our own life suffered the consequence, but we ruined things for everybody.
Those offerings were not to placate an angry God. They were to demonstrate to us how seriously messed up we are when we act on the interests of our lowest nature. Sin is not something to be joked about at parties, but a terrible malfunction of the human condition that is distressing, demeaning and destroying.
An old hymn declares “There is wonder working power in the blood of the lamb.” Such a strange, yet totally biblical image, can help us understand that our actions always have consequences. Sin is never a thing to take lightly. 1 John 1:7 declares “The blood of Jesus Christ cleanses you from every sin.”
As we look to the Cross we see what sin... sin like ours... can accomplish. It's tempting to turn away and plead innocence. Instead on the Cross, Jesus shows us what love can accomplish, and pleads for us; “Forgive them Father, they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34). Oh yes... there is power in the blood!
This week at Mount Hebron Presbyterian we continue a series on Peter's first letter. Last week we were thinking about faith as being “Precious Gold”(sermon here). This week we focus on 1 Peter 1:17-23 and the theme “"Precious Blood." It would be remiss of me not to provide a link to the previously mentioned gospel song. So here for the squeamish and not so squeamish... the Tommy Coomes band offer a spirited rendition of the gospel classic: “There Is Power In The Blood.”
Rev Adrian J. Pratt B.D.