Does the sight of blood bother you? Many years ago I was part of a group that was gathered to give blood for a friend that was in an accident and was in need of blood right away. We had gathered a group of about 20 people to all line up to give blood for him. We were all laughing and talking about the whole thing and several in the group had never given blood before then. One guy who was a first timer was kidding one of the young ladies that was part of the group. He was a large, muscular, football playing type and she was a small, young and petite person weighing almost 100 pounds. He would have topped the 250 mark with some left over. So he was telling her that they wouldn’t take her blood since she didn’t have much to spare. As fate would have it, she went first and gave her blood without a hitch. He was called in a little later, and as soon as the lady stuck the needle into his arm he passed out cold. They were never able to get his blood and took a long time getting him back to himself enough to be able to leave the place. Needless to say, he was never allowed to live it down and the young girl had a wonderful trip back home.
Blood was always important in God’s sight. He told the Israelites that they should never eat anything with the blood still in it because the life was in the blood. He declared, “Whoever sheds a man’s blood, by men his blood will be shed.” “Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins” (Hebrews 9:22). When the tabernacle was built in the wilderness Moses was commanded to sprinkle the blood of animals over everything. “How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God! For this reason Christ is the mediator of the new covenant, that those who are called my receive the promised eternal inheritance – now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant” (Hebrews 9:14-15) Instead of Jesus taking the blood of some animal to the altar inside the temple Herod had built, He entered into the throne room of God Almighty carrying his own blood to offer on the Altar of which the one in the temple was a mere shadow or image.
Instead of taking a lamb a year old that was without spot or blemish, Jesus was the unblemished lamb that offered himself and his blood. Through the Holy Spirit of God Jesus was raised from the dead, came out of the tomb leaving it empty with the grave clothes neatly folded and laid where he was. In offering his blood as the perfect sacrifice he cleansed our conscience from all the acts that lead to our spiritual death. His blood not only moved forward from the cross to take care of those who would come after him and make it possible for us to remain clean before him. His blood went backward to set those free who had lived and died under the old covenant as well. Every sin forgiven during the centuries before the cross was forgiven on the basis of what Jesus would do on the cross. Since God is not bound in by time as we are the writer of Revelation could say that he was crucified from the foundation of the earth. We live based on time. God is outside the realm of time. So sins were forgiven on credit that Jesus would pay off at Calvary. Those sins during the Old Covenant were just as fully forgiven as ours are today. The notion that I’ve heard people say that the sins under the Old Law were rolled forward from year to year isn’t accurate. God fully forgave their sins just as he does ours. It was done then based on what Jesus would do and we are forgiven based on what he did.
But notice that God cleanses our conscience from dead works SO THAT WE MAY SERVE THE LIVING GOD! When we have the faith in Jesus to turn from our sins to him in repentance and are baptized into Christ, into his death and are raised from our spiritual death to new life in him it is in order to serve him (Romans 6:1-5). When someone becomes a follower of Christ, yet never gets involved in serving him by serving others and doing good in the world, it is an indication that something is wrong. The process didn’t work as it was intended. We are made to be forgiven and cleansed so that we can serve the living God in this world.
That is the reason that Jesus pictured the judgment scene like this: “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on the right and the goats on the left. Then the king will say to those on the right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat. I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me. I was in prison and you came to visit me. Then the righteous will answer him, Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you a drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you? The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you didn’t clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’ They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison and did not help you? He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life” (Matthew 25:31-46).
Our cleansing should always lead to service and our service for other people is how we serve God Almighty. Isn’t it amazing to think that in judgment it wasn’t for bad deeds that people did that caused them to be lost but for good deeds they failed to do? It should make us all think of our own devotion to helping the hurting around us.