There’s Power In The Blood
"For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins." (Matt. 26:28)
"Forasmuch as ye know that 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 of a lamb without blemish and without spot:" (I Peter 1:18-19)
On the south coast of China, high on a hill that overlooks the harbor of Macao, the Portuguese settlers of that colony erected a massive cathedral. But one of the powerful typhoons that regularly wreck havoc with the works of mans hands, virtually destroyed this impressive edifice. For many years the building lay in ruins. Only the front wall stubbornly remained. As the years passed, high atop that jutting wall a large bronze cross pierced the sky, as if defying the elements.
Sir John Bowring, a onetime governor of Hong Kong, was a gifted naturalist, statesman, political economist and linguist who could speak and write in thirteen different languages and dialects. One day while looking over this area, he spotted this cross standing high above the ruins of the wall, like a lonely sentinel, with its silhouette thrusting high into the sky. The sight so moved him that he penned the powerful words of the beautiful grand old hymn:
In the cross of Christ I glory, Towering o’er the wrecks of time,
All the light of sacred story, Gathers ’round its head sublime.
When the woes of life o’er-take me, Hopes deceive, and fears annoy,
Never shall the cross forsake me; Lo! it glows with peace and joy.
When the sun of bliss is beaming, Light and love upon my way,
From the cross the radiance streaming, Adds more lustre to the day.
Bane and blessing, pain and pleasure, By the cross are sanctified,
Peace is there that knows no measure, Joys that through all time abide.
The thought and truth of this old hymn is just as apt today. For thrusting out of the midst of the turmoil and violence of today’s suffering world, stands the Cross of Christ. There is no greater symbol. It symbolizes His ultimate triumph. The triumph of love over hate. The victory of forgiveness over judgment. The triumph of hope over despair and life over death! But more than anything else, it stands for the blood of Jesus Christ that cleanses us from all our sins.
All around the world Christians gather in awe and reverence to consider the real meaning of the death of their Savior upon that Cross and the eternal significance of the blood He shed there. Choirs and congregations lift their voices in many different languages and dialects and sing, "When I survey the wondrous cross, On which the Prince of glory died, My richest gain I count but loss, And pour contempt on all my pride."
But why do we come together on this day to remember that momentous day and that place where our Prince of glory died? Why do we sing of the cross and blood.? Why do we focus upon the Cross and His blood on the first day of the week when we assemble together to remember and speak and sing of His sacrificial death and celebrate His glorious and triumphant resurrection?
As we come together today, let us not do so in sorrow and sadness as if the terrible price He paid as He shed His blood for our sins was sealed as a tragedy forever, when His bruised and battered body was lain in the tomb. It is true history has never recorded a darker day than that day, when the Prince of glory died. A day so darkened by the evil of man that the Father turned His face from the Son and the sun hid its face in shame. A day so terrible that the earth was plunged into an awesome darkness as it groaned and shook in sickening spasms.
Let us rather celebrate because earth’s most terrible and tragic day was changed into heaven’s most glorious day. Our Savior cry, "It is finished," did not signal a defeat of God’s eternal plan and purpose for planet earth and its inhabitants. That awesome cry was the voice of triumph; shouting that the very last barrier between God and man had been torn down. At that cry, the veil in the temple was torn asunder from top to bottom; symbolizing the opening of man’s access to God through the blood that had been shed upon that cross. As the great apostle would later say, the last enemy of man, death, had been conquered and destroyed and the price of redemption had been fully paid. ". . .nailing it to his cross; [And] having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it." (Col. 2:14b-15)
When Jesus departed the body that had been so terrible torn and traumatized, His head fell limp upon His chest. He was not there anymore. He had appointments to keep. He must go into the presence of the Father and sprinkle the blood upon the real mercy seat. He must fulfill the joyous task of descending into the place of Abraham’s bosom and announce the glorious good news to those who were waiting there. He must lead captivity captive. All the shadows, types and figures of Old Covenant were now fulfilled. All the words of the prophets had come to fruition. They could now be ushered into the very presence of Almighty God.
The Roman soldier now came and thrust his cruel spear into His side. Blood and water flowed freely from the terrible wound. Physicians through the ages have said that a flow of a mixture of blood and water indicated He had literally died of a broken heart. In any case, it is clear our Savior gave the uttermost farthing. Hanging upon that old rugged cross; heaven’s best had paid the price for the redemption of the world’s worst.
Two of the vilest sinners one might imagine witnessed this terrible moment. One of them was redeemed and gloriously saved. Those there were privileged to behold the precious Lamb of God take away the sins of the world. The selfless and sacrificial blood sufficient to heal the sins of a hurting, hopeless, helpless world was shed by the Son of a loving God that glorious day.
During this season in particular it is proper that we seek to comprehend the real significance of the powerful, precious blood of Christ. We know it is not necessarily pleasant to do so. One of the greatest criticisms of the recent film, "The Passion Of The Christ," was its graphic and gory visual recreation of the horror of the blood sacrifice the Father offered that day.
This criticism is not new. For centuries the sophisticates have called Christianity a butcher shop religion. The very mention of the blood of Christ has proven to be distasteful to those who feel they have no need for its cleansing power. Man in his prideful self-sufficiency is revolted by the very idea. It grates upon his ego that such an awful price was required in order to reconcile sinful and wicked men to a holy God.
Man will do anything one might imagine in an attempt to get right with God; except admit his sinfulness and concede that the shed blood of Jesus Christ alone will cleanse him from his sin. He is willing to be christened, confirmed, join a religion, burn some candles, go into a trance, attempt good works or invent a thousand different ways to bring himself to God. Just as long as he can do it himself and is not required to humble himself before God and be washed by the blood of the Lamb.
Man continues to increasingly ignore the old scriptural truth that without the shedding of blood their is no remission of sin. He delights in wearing a cross as a trinket around his neck. He will hang one as a trophy on a wall. He will place one as an ornament on a church steeple. But he strongly resents the implication that the cross and the blood our Saviour shed there symbolizes his sinful depravity and need for a Savior.
Just how does the blood of Jesus Christ cleanse us from our sins? It would be prideful and misleading to assert we can fully understand the mystery of it. It is beyond the keen of the finite mind of mortal man to comprehend the infinite nature of this transaction. The power of the blood and the cross can only be known experientially and personally. We can only by faith probe the depths of the love that flows from His cross. We can only test the true power of it by an absolute faith in the One who went to the cross and shed His precious blood for our sins. The radical change that results from that encounter is the ultimate testimony of the power of the blood.
I remember an early Chemistry class experiment when the teacher dropped a very small piece of gold into a beaker of undiluted hydrochloric acid. The weight of the gold was checked and it was confirmed that the strong acid had not dissolved any of it. The same was done with strong sulfuric acid and repeated with strong nitric acid. These very corrosive acids would dissolve hundreds of metals and compounds, but not gold. He then dropped the piece of gold into a beaker with a mixture of acids called, agua regia, or royal water. The gold began to be dissolved. He told us the acid was called royal water because it was the master or king of gold and precious metals. Gold was impervious to most everything but was easily dissolved by the royal water.
Sin in the sinful heart is much the same. Sin cannot be dissolved or removed nor can a sinful heart be cleansed or changed by anything this world knows. Education, discipline, riches, affliction, punishment or even imprisonment, cannot cleanse the heart of a sinner or change or reform his life. Only God’s "royal water, " the precious blood shed by the King of Kings, has the power to probe, penetrate and purify the sinful depths of man’s desperately wicked heart.
The scarlet thread of the story of the blood runs all the way from Genesis through Revelation. It is the consistent theme of Old and New Testament writers. The message is inescapable and its application is indispensable. Just how is this true?
THERE’S POWER IN THE BLOOD TO SAVE US FROM OUR SINS. "Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him." (Ro. 5:9) The English word, justify, comes from the Latin word, justificare. This word meant to free one from blame and clear him from guilt. In a legal sense it carries the connotation of absolute acquittal.
It would seem the story of Barabbas was included in the gospel account to clearly illustrate this concept. The Cross our Savior suffered and died upon really did belong to that notorious and incorrigible criminal. It would be reasonable to assume that he had been under the sentence of death by cruel crucifixion for a long time. The terrible day of his execution came. When he heard the dread sound of feet coming down the dungeon stairs to drag him forth to be humiliated, tortured, whipped and then cruelly executed, he surely would have trembled in fright. But instead, he heard the most marvelous news. "Barabbas you are the luckiest man on earth. A Jewish teacher named Jesus of Nazareth is dying in your place. You’re no longer guilty. You’re free to go."
This murdering, thieving, rebellious, godless and hardened criminal clearly represents all sinners born on planet earth in every age. Yet he was saved by the power of the precious blood of our Savior. That, in and of itself, is a wonder of wonders. But just think: we are also under the blood of Jesus today. "Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him."
When deadly and ferocious bush fires sweep across our dry and arid land, the most effective and sure fire way to defend hearth and home is to back burn in the face of the flames. If enough area can be burned all around then the bush fire cannot harm or hurt. Why? Because the fire cannot destroy what has already been destroyed. It is the same with the Cross of Christ. God’s terrible judgment has already burned against sin there. Those who stand by faith at the foot that cross cannot come into condemnation. God’s safety zone has been cleansed by the blood that was shed there and the price that was paid there.
Another old and yet simple illustration is found in the story many of us have told to Sunday School children back through the years. A prairie farmer was walking over land that had been burned over by a raging grass fire. He noticed a large black bundle. When he kicked it a half dozen prairie chicks scurried across the prairie. They had safely sheltered from the fire under the wings of their mother. She had given her life for them. Christ was consumed by the judgment of God. We who have come to the cross are sheltered under His eternal wings.
THE POWER OF THE BLOOD PURGES US. "How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?" (Heb. 9:14) Guilt is one of the most destructive forces know to man. This is widely recognized by psychologists. Self condemnation and feelings of unworthiness haunt many who are struggling to lead a balanced and fulfilling life. This is the basis of the popular concept of poor self image. The silent accusing voice of the human conscience is man’s constant companion on the road of life. It sits in judgment in every human heart analyzing every thought, word and deed. The psychologist has no effective remedy. The psychiatrist cannot counter its devastating and destructive effect.
But imagine this! The Word of God assures us that the precious blood of Jesus Christ has the power to purge us from the burden of guilt and shame. This cleansing enables us to know the peace that passeth understanding. This purging helps us to know the joy unspeakable. We are given the freedom to live the more abundant life in the service of a living God.
The alcoholic can be purged and enabled to live a life of dignity and self worth. The same can be said of many others. I have known hard drug addicts who have been transformed by the power of the blood. I have know prostitutes who have become model mothers through the power of His precious. I have known young people who have been turned around as they traveled far down the road of delinquency.
The New Testament is filled with such examples. Can you imagine Saul who became Paul writing these words? How his conscience must have haunted him as the Holy Spirit hounded him while he was involved in the deadly work of persecuting Christ by persecuting His followers. On the road to Damasus the blood of Jesus Christ removed all the guilty stains and the Holy Spirit could use Him mightily in the service of the Master.
THE POWER OF THE BLOOD REDEEMS US. "Forasmuch as ye know that 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 of a lamb without blemish and without spot:" (I Peter 1:18-19) If you recall, I taught the young ones about the idea of redemption in my Children’s Sermon time a couple of Sundays ago. Their attempts to buy back the little girl whose hands were bound with rope as she stood in the "slave market" of sin failed because no one had the price of a million dollars placed upon her.
The idea of redemption assumes we have all, as Adam did, sold ourselves into the slave market of sin. The word also entails the ideaof being tricked and enticed into serving one who is not really your legal master. But the love and concern of the rightful master moves him to pay the price to redeem and recover his servant.
The example of Hosea’s love for his prostitute wife is given as an example of this. It illustrates the love God had for Israel and the price He was willing to pay to buy them back in the slave market of sin. God has done this tremendous thing for us as well. Our sordid sin and unfaithfulness did not dismay or delay God’s love for us.
How much do you think you are really worth? Have you heard the expression, "I wish I could buy him for what he’s worth and sell him for what he thinks he’s worth." I am sure you are aware that if all the elements contained in the human body were reduced to their basic form the resulting compounds would only bring a few dollars if sold on the market. Are we worthy of God’s love and the price He paid to redeem us? Of course not. Why then did He pay a price so infinitely greater than our true value. There can only be one answer. His love for us and His grace extended to us sets the true value He places upon us.
A story is told of the days of slavery when a beautiful young woman was placed upon the slave auction block to be sold to the highest bidder. Lecherous men with money gathered around and started bidding for her. The price was driven higher and higher as efforts were made by the auctioneer to more fully display her beauty. Ultimately, only two men could afford to stay in the bidding. One was a well known as cruel and vicious slave owner. There could be no doubt of his intent. The other was a mild mannered man standing at the back of the crowd.
When the bidding finally stopped , the crowd gasped at the tremendous price he had paid. As he approached and stood by the young woman, he softly spoke to her, He told her he did not own slaves. In fact, he had spent his last dollar to purchase her freedom. She was free to go. With tears streaming down her face, the young woman told him she had no place to go. She then gave herself to him and his family to serve them freely and faithfully for the rest of her life. The lesson for us is obvious.
THE POWER OF THE BLOOD PURCHASES HIS PEOPLE. "Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;" (Eph. 5:25) Do you recall the story of the Passover? The father in each humble home was responsible to apply the blood of the sacrificial lamb over the doorpost of the home. Without it, the death angel would visit the home. With it, the angel of death would Passover the home. God said, "When I see the blood I will pass over you."
It has been imagined that as night and judgment approached the first born in the house may have said to the father, "Has the sacrifice been made? Is the blood there? Is it in the right place?" He may have gone again and again to check and make sure the mark of the redeeming blood was there. The mark of the precious blood of the Lamb is just as important to distinguish those who have been called out of the world by God today.
On the subcontinent certain caste groups use a tiny red mark in their foreheads to identify their high position in society. God places an invisible mark upon every heart that has been redeemed by the blood of His Lamb. Only He knows who truly has the mark. These are His called out ones. They are children of the King. They are real members of the aristocracy of heaven.
THE POWER OF HIS PRECIOUS BLOOD IS AVAILABLE TO ALL. He said on the occasion of serving the first Lord’s Supper, "This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins." Again and again He said that whosoever will may come and be washed by the blood that flowed from Calvary.
The true Christian faith is not for a select few of a particular land or culture. It is overwhelmingly universal. He commissioned His Church to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. Some religions seem designed for certain races or nationalities. We could name religions of the east and mid-east that obviously appeal to a certain mind set and are slanted to certain philosophies and cultures. But the Cross of Christ and His precious blood reaches out to all who have sinned and come short of the glory of God.
I have already mentioned the sordid sorts of sinners who have been saved by His grace. I have had the privilege of seeing a few who might be classed quite wealthy come to Christ. I have seen those who lived in thatched huts with a dirt floor come to Christ. I have seen those who live high on the hill of prosperity come to the Cross. I have seen the down and outer come to Christ. I have talked to an old witch doctor in the Solomon Islands who was gloriously saved by the grace of God.
J. P Morgan was one of the richest men of his day. When he died he left a will with about ten thousand words and thirty-seven articles. In life he had controlled such huge sums of money that some of his transactions affected the financial stability of the world’s markets. But he left no doubt about what was the most important transaction of all. The preamble of his will read:
"I commit my soul into the hands of my Savior, full of confidence that having redeemed me and washed me with His precious blood, He will present me faultless before the Throne of my Heavenly Father. I entreat my children to maintain and defend at all hazards and at all costs personally, the blessed doctrine of the complete atonement of sin through the blood of Jesus Christ once offered and through that along."
The wealthiest man of his day was completely powerless to purchase a place in heaven. He was as absolutely as dependent upon the riches of the grace of God as the poorest beggar. So are we. If you have not been saved, I urge you to come to the Cross of Christ and let His blood cleanse you from all your sin and open the doors of heaven for your entrance into an abundant eternal life.