In understanding the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus we also need to talk about His blood and understand what the shedding of His blood has accomplished for us.
The New Testament has a lot to say about Jesus’ blood, and we cannot neglect it’s power in our lives today. Some people have tried to take ‘the blood’ out of Christianity, saying that it is to ‘gory’ or to ‘vulgar’ to talk about blood.
But we must talk about Jesus and His work in the way that the Bible teaches it, and His blood which was shed for us is a highly significant part of this.
The things that happened at the death of Jesus are significant. They are not just ‘bits of the storey’ nor are they simply things the Roman Soldiers chose to do to Jesus.
The stripes He was beaten with are significant (1 Peter 2:24)
The shedding of His blood at His death is significant.
His death was a very specific one that involved a lot of blood being shed, because His blood is powerful and is a major part of the work that He did for us on the cross.
Blood sacrifices in the Old Testament
To get a better understanding of the Jesus’ blood we need to look briefly into the Old Testament because the shedding of blood is not a concept new to the New Testament!
Blood sacrifices were used throughout the Old Testament as an important part of the people’s lives before God, but what we need to understand is that ALL of these Old Testament sacrifices pointed to Jesus and His work.
There were a number of different types of sacrifices in the Old Testament, which were made for various reasons, but this study is not an in depth look at all the Old Testament sacrifices and what they were about, so we are only summarising what they were about here.
The reason the blood sacrifices were placed in the Old Covenant was to teach us about the importance of the shedding of blood and the need for a sacrifice to be made for sin.
These blood sacrifices also taught us about the important concept of substitution.
The wages of sin is death, so anyone who sinned had to die! However God showed us in the Old Testament that a SUBSTITUTE could take your place in death, and that would be considered acceptable.
The substitute which would die FOR you, taking your place in death as the punishment for sin, was the animal which was sacrificed; however this entire sacrificial system pointed to THE substitute, Jesus and what He would do in taking your place.
Blood was shed, but these animal sacrifices were only temporary and needed to be offered over and over again; year after year for the sins of the people. All of these Old Testament sacrifices were types which pointed to the Ultimate sacrifice which was coming: Jesus The Lamb of God who’s blood was shed to take away sin once and for all.
There is a MAJOR difference between the Blood of the New Covenant and the Blood of the Old Covenant:
In the Old Testament, animal sacrifices were made to ‘atone’ for people’s sins.
:10 “And Aaron shall make atonement upon its horns once a year with the blood of the sin offering of atonement; once a year he shall make atonement upon it throughout your generations. It is most holy to the LORD.”
Leviticus 16:11 – 17
:11 “And Aaron shall bring the bull of the sin offering, which is for himself, and make atonement for himself and for his house, and shall kill the bull as the sin offering which is for himself.
:12 “Then he shall take a censer full of burning coals of fire from the altar before the LORD, with his hands full of sweet incense beaten fine, and bring it inside the veil.
:13 “And he shall put the incense on the fire before the LORD, that the cloud of incense may cover the mercy seat that is on the Testimony, lest he die.
:14 “He shall take some of the blood of the bull and sprinkle it with his finger on the mercy seat on the east side; and before the mercy seat he shall sprinkle some of the blood with his finger seven times.
:15 “Then he shall kill the goat of the sin offering, which is for the people, bring its blood inside the veil, do with that blood as he did with the blood of the bull, and sprinkle it on the mercy seat and before the mercy seat.
:16 “So he shall make atonement for the Holy Place, because of the uncleanness of the children of Israel, and because of their transgressions, for all their sins; and so he shall do for the tabernacle of meeting which remains among them in the midst of their uncleanness.
:17 “There shall be no man in the tabernacle of meeting when he goes in to make atonement in the Holy Place, until he comes out, that he may make atonement for himself, for his household, and for all the assembly of Israel.
:11 ‘For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul.’
Here we see some of the Old Testament instructions for blood sacrifice.
The word ‘atonement’ is used repetitively, and we see in Leviticus 17:11 that God ordained that the blood upon the altar was to make atonement. This was an ordinance set up by God in preparation for the shedding of Jesus’ blood which was to deal with the sins of man once and for all.
‘Atonement’ is the Hebrew word : ‘kaphar’ which means to cover.
We are told that the Blood makes ATONEMENT. Under the Old Covenant – when the people sinned – the Priest would make an Atonement for their sins. In other words a blood sacrifice was made which COVERED their sins.
To Atone for sin means to COVER sin
If I spilled Coffee on the carpet, so that there was a blemish there, I could take a cloth and COVER it but the stain would still be there if you looked underneath! I atoned it or I covered it.
To all observers it would be as if it was not there but I would know it was there! Anyone else who walked into the room would only see the cloth that I used to cover the stain, but underneath the stain would still be there. It had not been cleaned away, only covered.
This is what ‘atonement’ does. It covers sin, but does not take sin away. So although the sin was covered, the guilt remained in people’s conscience as they were still aware of it.
:1 For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect.
:2 For then would they not have ceased to be offered? For the worshipers, once purified, would have had no more consciousness of sins.
:3 But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year.
:4 For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins.
Here in Hebrews the writer brings us some incredible revelation!
In the Old Testament, the sacrifices were made over and over.
Notice that the Old Covenant blood was limited. Verse 1 says, ‘can never with these same sacrifices, …, make those who approach perfect.’
These sacrifices could not perfect people and bring them to a point where they were no longer conscious of sin (verse 2).
He sums it up in verse 4 saying that these Old Testament blood sacrifices could not TAKE AWAY sin, they only covered it through Atonement.
‘Atonement’ was limited because it could COVER sin, but not remove it or wash it away.
Like the stain of coffee on the carpet which was only covered and therefore not really dealt with, so the old Testament blood of animals didn’t; really deal with the core problem, it only covered over the issue. However the people themselves were still aware of their sins under the cover. They were still conscious of sin and felt the guilt.
One of the great truths of the Blood of Jesus is what it does to our sins!
Many people, when they talk about Jesus’ work on the cross, refer to it as ‘The Atoning work of Christ’. They use the word ‘atonement’ to speak of Jesus’ work on the cross for us, however this is not really accurate.
The Old Covenant Blood could only cover – atone – for sin, but Jesus blood was far more powerful and did what the blood of animals could never do: REMOVED it.
The Blood of Jesus doesn’t simply COVER sins so that they are still there!
:5 and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth. To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, (NKJV)
The Blood of Jesus WASHES us from our sin! It has cleansing power! It does not simply cover sin, it actually washes it away. The stain is not simply covered over, it is removed.
The New International Version uses the word ‘freed’ us from sin, instead of ‘washed’ however the word ‘washed’ is a better translation of the original Greek. The NKJV get’s is better when it says ‘washed’
The Greek word translated ‘Washed’ here means to wash, to bathe (the whole person)
In the Greek there were different words used for washing or cleansing.
One of these simply meant to ‘wet a part only (hands / feet)’
Another one of the words means to wash / cleanse garments only, speaking exclusively of cleaning clothes.
However the word used in Revelation 1:5 is very specifically the word meaning to totally bath and wash the entire person! This word speaks of a complete washing from head to toe – ALL of you!
So the blood of Jesus washed us completely, from head to toe, of our sins. It did not just cover sin, nor did it just wash part of us. We were completed bathed in Jesus’ cleansing blood.
Just like soap and water can remove natural dirt, so the blood of Jesus is a powerful spiritual cleansing agent. It has the power to wash away sin!
There is a BIG difference to covering a mark and washing it away!
The Old Covenant blood sacrifices COULD ONLY cover the sin but it was still there. They were not powerful cleansing agents which could clean a person of sin.
In the New Testament, the Blood of Jesus completely washes it away, making Jesus blood far more powerful than anything else.
When something has been properly washed, you would never have known it had been dirty in the first place!
If there was a stain on the carpet, I could cover it OR I could apply a powerful cleansing agent that completely erased it as if it had never been there in the first place!
What if the mark was cleaned and erased and you came and said, ‘look at that stain there, look what the coffee did – what an awful stain’
I would say, ‘there isn’t a stain there – it’s been completely removed!’
There USED to be a stain there, but now it has been cleaned.
People who carry guilt before God for their sins have not gotten a revelation of the cleansing power of the blood. They need to understand what the Blood of Jesus has done!
Your sins have not just been covered so that they are still there. No, they have been completely cleaned away.
Now think about this:
Who is the One who decided to provide you with Blood that CLEANED sin away?
This was God’s idea. In other words, that is what He WANTED to do! He was not forced to do it that way. He didn’t HAVE to do it like that. He could have done nothing at all for our sins or He could have left it like the Old Covenant where their sins were only covered over.
Instead He chose to provide a cleansing. That sounds like He wanted sin out the way! That does not sound like He wanted you to remain guilt and condemned for your sins! That sounds more like He wanted to remove them so that they were no longer an issue between you and Him.
Some people think that God’s primary interest in your life is your sins! They think that God’s main concern is to hammer you and condemn you and make you feel guilty for sinning and missing it.
I disagree. The way God set up the blood of Jesus shows otherwise. The fact that God gave us Blood that cleans sin away shows us that He waned sin dealt with so that it did not have to be an issue between you and Him anymore.
Rather than God wanting to focus on your sins and where you have missed it, He provided a way so that you could be cleaned of all that, and free from the guilt, so that you could get on with enjoying relationship with Him without sin getting in the way.
1 John 1:7
:7 But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.
NKJV – cleanses
NIV – Purifies – to PURIFY a thing – you completely remove all the impurities
Atonement and Remission
Under the Old Covenant they had Atonement – covering of sin. However it is not accurate to say that we have atonement in the New Testament. Jesus’ blood did more than that.
To say Jesus only ATONED for our sin is to say that He only did as much as the Old Testament animal sacrifices did!
But He did more! Under the New Covenant we have REMISSION – a complete wiping out of sin as though it had never been.
When a thing has been properly washed – it is AS IF IT WAS NEVER DIRTY!
Notice what John the Baptist declared about Jesus:
:29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world
John the Baptist had a revelation of what Jesus as the Lamb would do. He knew Jesus blood would do something the Old Testament Lambs could not do and that was completely take away sin.
2 Corinthians 5:17
:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.
Now this scripture becomes more real to us.
In Christ our sins, our past is gone, completely washed away as if it never existed. God has no more remembrance of it, and if we fully understand the cleansing power of the Blood of Jesus we will be freed from the guilt and condemnation of those sins.
We no longer need to stand before God carrying all the guilt of sin, because He has cleansed us from it. We can stand before God without guilt anymore. Something that is ‘new’ has no past.
One of the major reasons people go around feeling guilty is because they have not realised the cleansing power of the blood
:9 It was symbolic for the present time in which both gifts and sacrifices are offered which cannot make him who performed the service perfect in regard to the conscience
Under the Old Testament system, people’s consciences still bothered them, especially when they stood before God. Even after offering the animal sacrifices, they felt very aware of their sins and inadequacies before a Holy God!
The Old sacrifices could not cleanse the conscience so the person is left still feeling guilty!
Hebrews 9:11 – 15
:11 But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation.
:12 Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.
:13 For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh,
:14 how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?
:15 And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.
I love this! Hebrews 9:9 tells us that the Old Covenant sacrifices could not perfect the conscience, then Hebrews 9:11 starts, ‘BUT Christ came…’
With His OWN blood, Christ did what the animal blood could never do. He offered an ‘eternal Redemption’ (verse 12)
AND His blood cleansed your conscience. Verse 14, ‘how much more shall the blood of Christ, … cleanse your conscience ‘
Christ’s Blood cleanse the conscience too, removing not just the sin itself, but also the guilt and condemnation of it on the inside or you.
Many Christians have not been taught about the cleansing power of the blood, so they still remain condemned and guilty of things that they have repented of and that have been cleansed away by the blood of Jesus.
The devil loves to hold things against Christians and he points the finger at you saying, ‘but you do this, or you did that… How could God love you! How could God use you’
Thank God that the blood of Jesus is more powerful than your sin. God’s solution to sin is more powerful than the sin.
When you come to Him and confess your sin, He IS faithful and just to CLEANSE you. He washes you in the powerful blood of Jesus and you can walk away knowing you are clean.
1 John 1:9
:9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Not only are you clean, but your conscience can also be free from the guilt and condemnation.
So when the devil tries to point at the stain of sin, you say, ‘what stain devil?
That has been washed away, there is no stain there anymore!’
This article, along with others by the same author can be found at www.exceedingfaith.com
Unless otherwise stated, all scriptures used are quoted from the New King James Version of the Bible.
Images courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net
(C) 2008 Exceeding Faith Ministries International & O. Walton.
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