Greg Strand is EFCA executive director of theology and credentialing, and he serves on the Board of Ministerial Standing as well as the Spiritual Heritage Committee. He and his family are members of Northfield (Minnesota) EFC.
On this Good Friday we remember the death of the Lord Jesus Christ. One of the important aspects of the death of Jesus on the cross, and our salvation, is the blood, and more importantly Jesus’ shed blood.
It is not the amount of blood that Christ shed that is important. Rather, it is that Jesus shed His blood in death as a propitiating sacrifice. If there is no shed blood, there is no salvation.
The Scriptures are filled with references to blood. In fact, one New Testament scholar notes that in reference to the Atonement the New Testament writers use the word “blood” three times more than the word “cross” and five times more than the expression “death”.
The church has affirmed these biblical truths through creeds, hymns and choruses since the time of Jesus’ death. We have been saved by grace through faith in Jesus’ shed blood in death and his subsequent resurrection (and although both must be kept together, it is fitting for a time to focus on them separately, as we do with Good Friday and Easter).
Many Evangelicals refer to the death of Christ, the atoning sacrifice, propitiation, as a bloody atonement. The reason they did this is to emphasize the necessity of shed blood for salvation. This belief is grounded in the Scriptures. Since the Enlightenment, most theological liberals are offended by such language, which they conclude is barbaric. They prefer not to refer to Jesus’ death in such terms. And yet for us, Scripture compels us to affirm it. As noted by one recently, There's Still Power in the Blood
I have culled the Scriptures for some of the key references to blood. On this day, I encourage you to read these texts carefully, thoughtfully and prayerfully. There is much I would like to comment on each text, and there is a theology of the blood that I would like state. But the best thing on this day is to read the Scriptures itself, God’s Word. Some of the texts I only include a verse so you may have to read a longer section from the larger context.
Exodus 12:11-14: In this manner you shall eat it: with your belt fastened, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand. And you shall eat it in haste. It is the LORD's Passover. For I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and I will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am the LORD. The blood shall be a sign for you, on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you, when I strike the land of Egypt. "This day shall be for you a memorial day, and you shall keep it as a feast to the LORD; throughout your generations, as a statute forever, you shall keep it as a feast.
Leviticus 17:11: For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it for you on the altar to make atonement for your souls, for it is the blood that makes atonement by the life.
Matthew 26:26-39: Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, "Take, eat; this is my body." And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, "Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom." And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.
Acts 20:28: Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.
Romans 3:25: whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.
Romans 5:9: Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.
1 Corinthians 10:16: The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ?
Ephesians 1:7: In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace,
Ephesians 2:13: But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.
Colossians 1:19-20: For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.
Hebrews 9:11-14: But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.
Hebrews 9:22: Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.
Hebrews 10:19: Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus,
Hebrews 13:12: So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood.
1 Peter 1:17-19: And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one's deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.
1 John 1:7: But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.
Revelation 1:4b-6: Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
Revelation 5:9-10: And they sang a new song, saying, "Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth."
Revelation 12:11: And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.
Revelation 19:11-16: Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.