By Basil Overton
The apostle Peter wrote the following to Christians to encourage them as they were faced with persecution and suffering. “Forasmuch as ye know ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; but with the precious blood of Christ, as a lamb without blemish and without spot” (1 Peter 1:18-19).
We think of silver and gold as being incorruptible, and we know blood is corruptible. But, Peter said silver and gold are corruptible, and he said the blood of Christ is incorruptible. Does this mean that the blood that was in the body of Jesus was not corruptible? If one had the literal blood of Jesus in a container, he would not be any better off as far as his being saved from his sins is concerned. How then is the blood of Christ incorruptible? How are we redeemed by It?
SIGNIFICANCE OF BLOOD IN THE BIBLE
Under the law of Moses, God forbade the eating of blood. He gave as the reason: “For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul” (Leviticus 17:11). “For it is the life of all flesh; the blood of it is for the life thereof; therefore I said unto the children of Israel, ye shall eat the blood of no manner of flesh: for the life of all flesh is the blood thereof: whosoever eateth it shall be cut off” (Lev. 17:14).
The Bible not only stresses that physical life is in blood, it also teaches that spiritual life is signified by blood. “When I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; and thou givest him not warning, nor speakest to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life; the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand” (Ezekiel 3:18). In telling Ezekiel this, God equated “his life” with “his blood” in referring to a wicked man. This means that if Ezekiel failed to warn a wicked man, God held Ezekiel responsible for the man’s being lost or dying in his iniquity. Ezekiel was responsible for the man’s spiritual life, and in the text the blood of the wicked man stood for his spiritual life.
When Judas took the thirty pieces of silver back to those who gave them to him for betraying Jesus, he said, “I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood” (Matthew 27:4). This means that Judas realized he had betrayed a man whose life was pure and sinless. “Innocent blood” means innocent life.
“When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but rather a tumult was made, he took water and washed his hands before the multitude saying, ‘I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it.’ Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be on us and on our children” (Mat. 27:24-25). Pilate was trying to escape the responsibility of causing Jesus to lose his life, so he said he was innocent of the blood of Jesus. He was saying he was innocent of the blood of Jesus. He was saying he was responsible for the taking of the life of Jesus. The crowd responded to Pilate and said they would take the responsibility for taking the life of Jesus, or they were willing to have his blood on them and their children.
Later the Jews did not like it because they sensed that the apostles intended to bring the blood of Jesus upon them (Acts 5:28). The apostles were also trying to bring the blood of Jesus upon those Jews, to have it applied to them in a spiritual sense so they could be saved from their sins.
WHY CAN JESUS’ BLOOD SAVE ALL?
Just how precious is the blood of Christ? Why is it that his precious blood can save all sinners? As the song says, “There is power in the blood.” How can there be so much power in the blood of Jesus? “In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace” (Ephesians 1:7).
The reason the blood of Jesus is so powerful and can save all people from their sins is because his life was so much greater than ours. He did not sin! (1 Pet. 2:22-25). Even Judas acknowledged Jesus was guiltless. Judas did not say, “I have sinned, but Jesus did some things wrong too.” Judas knew Jesus was sinless! Even Pilate, who desperately sought something wrong with Jesus, found no fault in him (Luke 23:14).
Paul declared that God has “set forth Jesus to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past through the forbearance of God; to declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just and the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus” (Rom. 3:25-26).
Usually, in the letter Paul wrote to the church in Rome, God’s righteousness refers to the standard of instruction to which we are to be slaves, and to which we are to submit (Rom. 6:16-18; 10:1-3). But in Romans 3:25-26 Paul stresses that he refers to the personal holiness and sinlessness of Jesus, or as he says “I say at this time his righteousness.” This is the reason we can have faith in his blood. We can have faith in the blood of Jesus because his life was perfect. The only reason the death of Jesus is significant is because of the perfect life he lived. His blood stands for his life. This is the sense in which his blood is incorruptible.
OUR RELATIONSHIP TO THE BLOOD
We do not relate to the blood of Christ in some mystical manner. What the New Testament says about how we relate to his blood is very practical.
1. Some say it does not matter about the doctrine one believes as long as he accepts the blood of Jesus. However, the New Testament makes it clear we must accept the covenant of Christ in order to have the benefits of the blood of Christ. To accept the covenant, or testament of Christ, one must believe the doctrine in it.
When Jesus instituted the Lord’s supper he said of the fruit of the vine, “For this is my blood of the New Testament which is shed for many for the remission of sins” (Matt. 26:28).
The blood of Jesus is not merely blood, but it is “the blood of the covenant” (Hebrews 10:29; 13:20). If what we believe and practice in religion is not in the covenant of Christ, or if it is not authorized by Christ in the New Testament, it is not under the blood of Christ and is therefore wrong.
2. Some have the notion that the Lord’s supper is of relatively little importance compared to the blood of Christ. One man told me, “I will have you know I have been a Christian fifty years and I have never eaten the Lord’s supper.” One cannot have the benefits of the blood of Christ if he ignores or neglects the Lord’s supper and does not eat at the Lord’s table upon the first day of the week. The blood of Christ is symbolized on the Lord’s table by the fruit of the vine. When we eat at the Lord’s table we remember Jesus. He said concerning our eating at his table, “Do this in remembrance of me.” Surely we remember his death, but his death means nothing without his perfect life, so we remember him; we remember his perfect life. When we neglect the Lord’s supper we show how little we think of the blood of Jesus. When we show how little we think of the blood of Jesus, we show how little we think of his life, and how little we think of him.
3. Others think that it does not matter whether one is in the church or not as long as he believes in the blood of Christ. However, the church we read about in the Bible, the Lord’s church, was purchased by his blood (Acts 20:28). One cannot be saved out of that which was purchased by the blood of Christ who gave himself for the church (Eph. 5:25). In the New Testament “the church” means “the saved.” One can no more be saved out of that church than he can be saved out of the saved. Instead of looking for a church that suits him, one should look in the New Testament and see what church the Lord wants him to be in. Redemption by the blood of Jesus is in Christ (Eph. 1:7). To be in Christ is the same as being in his body which is the church (Col. 1:2; 3:15; 1:18). Therefore, salvation by the blood of Jesus is in his church.
4. After showing from Acts 2:38 that baptism is for the remission of sins, a woman said to me, “Preacher, I do not see how baptism could be for remission of sins because the Bible says the blood of Christ was shed for the remission of sins.” But on Pentecost, Peter told those who believed what he had said about Jesus, to repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38). So there has to be some sense in which Jesus shed his blood for the remission of sins, and also some sense in which baptism is for the remission of sins.
I explained it to the lady and her son and daughter-in-law as follows: The blood of Jesus was shed for the remission of sins in the sense that by Jesus giving his life for us, he made remission of sins available for all the lost. Why are not all the lost saved? Because not all the lost accept or acquire what Jesus made available by shedding his blood. One acquires what Jesus made available on Calvary’s cross when he believes in him and trusts him by repenting of his sins, and confessing him as the Son of God, and by being baptized into him for the remission of his sins. Baptism is for the remission of sins in the sense that when one is baptized by the authority of Jesus, or in his name, he is baptized into Christ and into his death, and thus acquires what the Lord made available when he shed his blood (Rom. 6:3). Being baptized one gets into the spiritual relationship called in the New Testament “in Christ,” or in the church, where the blood of Christ saves.
In Scripture the word “blood” often stands for ——–?
Why is Jesus’ blood so precious?
Discuss the relationship of Jesus’ blood and the New Testament.
What is the purpose and value of the Lord’s Supper?
What was the price paid for the church?
How does water baptism relate to Christ’s blood?