Is Ours a Blood Religion?

Read: Ephesians 1:3-7

In whom we have redemption through His blood (namely) the forgiveness of sins. Ephesians 1:7

Some people dismiss the Christian religion as being a “blood religion”, as something gruesome or morbid. Properly understood, we can thank God that it is. Throughout the Old Testament the shedding of blood, usually of a lamb, was associated symbolically with the salvation of God’s people. The lamb died, and God’s people went free. That was the significance of every observance of the Passover for some 1,500 years.

St. Paul tells us that, while the Old Testament lambs were symbols, the substance came in Jesus. Writing to the Ephesians he praises the love of God who gave us His only Son “in whom we have redemption through His blood (namely) the forgiveness of sins. He writes the identical words to the Colossians, praising God for having provided salvation for all people through the blood of His beloved Son.

Indeed, Paul explicitly relates the atoning significance of Christ’s death to the Old Testament lambs when he tells his Corinthian Christians: “Christ, our Passover, is sacrificed for us.”

In the New Testament, we remind ourselves of this central truth of our Christian faith every time we celebrate the Lord’s Supper and repeat the words of Jesus Himself:  “Drink of it all of you; for this is My blood of the New Testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.”

The writer of the letter to the Hebrews points his Jewish readers to the Old Testament rituals of sacrifice and then points them to the death of Christ as the final and complete fulfillment of these rituals. The Old Testament sacrifices merely foreshadowed the once and for all saving act toward which they pointed. Hebrews 9:11-13 may be paraphrased: “If sprinkling the blood of bulls and goats, and heifers made the unclean clean, how much more will the blood of Christ cleanse our guilty consciences.” In the Old Testament lambs were sacrificed as symbols…

But Christ, the heavenly Lamb, Takes all our sins away;  A sacrifice nobler name And richer blood than they!

How has prayer helped you? How does your personal prayer time and communal prayer time in worship inform and feed you? Look for more stories of prayer in next week’s Monday Meditation.