Books The Arts

Christianity: Blood, Blood, and More Blood

The Witness

Reading through Blood Work by Pastor Anthony Carter. He writes:

The history of Christianity is filled with blood. More than anything else, the Bible speaks of the blood of Christ accomplishing for us the grand benefits that belong to salvation: We have been purchased by His blood (Acts 20:28). We have propitiation by His blood (Rom. 3:25). We have been justified by His blood (Rom. 5:9). We have redemption through His blood (Eph. 1:7). We who were afar off have been brought near by His blood (Eph. 2:13). We have peace through His blood (Col. 1:20). Our consciences are cleansed by His blood (Heb. 9:14). We are sanctified through His blood (Heb. 13:12). We are elect in His blood (1 Peter 1:1–2). We are ransomed by His blood (1 Peter 1:18–19). We have been set free from sin by His blood (Rev. 1:5). These and many other benefits remind us that the blood of Christ is central to all we are as a redeemed people. Therefore, we will consider each of these benefits chapter by chapter.

In examining and explaining the meaning of the blood of Christ, the seventeenth-century Puritan Stephen Charnock wrote:

By this is meant the last act in the tragedy of his life, his blood being the ransom of our souls, the price of our redemption, and the expiation of our sin. The shedding of his blood was the highest and most excellent part of his obedience (Phil. 2:8). His whole life was a continual suffering, but his death was the top and complement of his obedience, for in that he manifested the greatest love to God and the highest charity to man.

The significance of the blood of Jesus also can be seen in how frequently it is mentioned. In fact, “the ‘blood’ of Christ is mentioned in the writings of the New Testament nearly three times as often as ‘the cross’ of Christ and five times as frequently as the ‘death’ of Christ.”

Therefore, it should not be surprising that as recipients of God’s gracious salvation through the person and work of Christ, we preach, pray, and even sing of the wonderful power of His blood, as the popular hymn by William Cowper demonstrates:

There is a fountain filled with blood,

Drawn from Immanuel’s veins;

And sinners, plunged beneath that flood,

Lose all their guilty stains.

The Bible speaks of the blood of Christ as affecting and impacting everything we do as a community of faith. In fact, not only do we preach, pray, and sing the blood of Jesus, we even participate in it.

When we come to the Lord’s Table and receive Communion, the Bible reminds us, the cup we receive is the blood of Christ. The language, in fact, is that of fellowship: “The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ?” (1 Cor. 10:16, emphasis added). The word translated as “participation” is the Greek word koinonia, which also means our “fellowship.” It is a description of our communion with one another (Acts 2:42) and of our union with Christ (1 Cor. 1:9). Our union and communion are through the blood of Christ. The Lord’s Table is the visible reminder of the blessing we have in union with Jesus. The richness of the symbolism should not be underestimated. Pastor and theologian Joel Beeke writes, “In the Lord’s Supper, we partake of the full Christ, feasting on him and his benefits both mentally and spiritually.”

Obviously, Christians do not drink the literal blood of Christ when they take the cup of wine at Communion. However, there is much to be understood and received as we hear Christ say, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins” (Matt. 26:28; see Luke 22:20). The poignancy of these words should grip and encourage our hearts every time we hear them. The cup of blessing is a visible and tangible reminder that we are in Christ and Christ in us. It reminds us of the intimate and inseparable union we share with Him. His life and death are ours because His body was broken for us and His blood was shed for us. We are His and He is ours. His blood sealed our union with Him. Every time we come to the Lord’s Table, we should be reminded of this wonderful truth.

-Anthony Carter, Blood Work (Ann Arbor, Michigan: Reformation Trust, 2013), 3-5.

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