By Geoff Holsclaw: a professor and pastor, providing a cost-free mini-course on The three Forgotten Causes for Jesus’ Death, to aid expand your understanding of Jesus’s death.
Whilst it may possibly look gross and barbaric, all Christians confess that salvation is by means of the blood of Jesus (Eph. 1:7). But what does that definitely imply? Does God demand death? Is the blood a symbol of some thing else? Does it speak of a value paid? Or a present provided? And what is this value? This present?
As Easter approaches—when we celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus—we will have to reflect once more on the blood of Jesus.
The Shedding of Blood
The two go to texts to recognize the significance of blood are Hebrews 9:22b and Leviticus 17:11. These say that “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness” (Heb. 9:22) and that “the life of a creature is in the blood, and I [God] have provided it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar it is the blood that tends to make atonement for one’s life” (Lev. 17:11).
The framework for placing these verses with each other is some thing like this:
- The penalty for sin is death death is symbolized in the providing of blood
- When blood is provided (either one’s personal blood or a substitute) then forgiveness is granted.
- The outcome is that sins are forgiven by means of the providing a substitute of death to God, symbolized in the providing of blood.
- Thus, we are forgiven our sins mainly because Jesus received the death penalty (his shed blood) as a substitute for us.
The major notion is that sacrifice is substituting a single sort of death for a further death.
But are points definitely this simple?
Blood and Life
Quite a few appear at Lev. 17:11 as providing blood as a symbol of life, rather than the symbol of death. The text even says as substantially, “the life of a creature is in the blood.” If the life is in the blood, then any providing of blood is truly an providing or releasing of life by means of sacrifice. In this view blood is provided as a defense against death, or to act as a ritual cleanser to wipe away the effects of sin. In this view God—who is the God of life—is providing life by means of the sacrificial method as a imply of overcome the death getting into in by means of sin.
In this view—instead of substituting a single death for a further death—the notion of sacrifice is to exchange death for life.
The death brought on by sin is counteracted by life (temporarily, by means of the imperfect animal sacrifices).
Blood not only counteracts the effects of sin (which is death), but it also cleanses from the effects of sin.
Jacob Milgrom, and other individuals, have argued that the very best understanding of the ritual context in Leviticus is that “atonement” refers to a method of cleansing—cleaning the tabernacle and temple of the sin-induced pollutant of death. The whole sacrificial method was a implies for sustaining the “cleanness” of Israel, and thus to maintain it holy as God is holy. As opposed to the “unclean” Gentiles, God cleanses Israel and draws close to to her in and by means of the temple.
Even the Day of Atonement, the linchpin of several substitutionary atonement theories, is specifically for cleansing. Right here is the summary statement for the Day of Atonement: “For on that day the priest shall make atonement for you to cleanse you, so that you may possibly be clean from all your sins ahead of the Lord” (Lev. 16:30).
Sacrificial blood, thus, has to do with cleansing in some style. It is the implies by which God keeps his folks clean from the effects of sin and death—and enables God to dwell with his folks.
New Testament Cleansing
And this view that blood cleanses or purifies is also prominent in the New Testament.
Let’s appear once more at Her. 9:22b. The element we looked at says this, “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.”
But the whole verse connects blood to cleansing: “The law demands that almost all the things be cleansed with blood, and without the need of the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness” (Heb. 9:22).
“How substantially a lot more, then, will the blood of Christ, who by means of the eternal Spirit provided himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may possibly serve the living God!” (Heb. 9:14)
“Otherwise, would they not have stopped becoming provided? For the worshipers would have been cleansed once for all, and would no longer have felt guilty for their sins.” (Hebrews 10:two)
“…and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin…If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:7, 9)
What We Get Incorrect About the Blood
Definitely the “blood” of Jesus is a potent symbol of a nevertheless a lot more potent reality. But how we recognize this reality is very vital for our understanding of salvation, and for our understanding of who God is.
But we will have to attend to the whole counsel of Scripture as we seek to recognize what Christ’s blood has completed for us. In reality, sacrifices—and the blood of the sacrifices—didn’t do just a single point, they did at least 4 points.
Of course, all this speak about blood demands some sort of understanding of just what “atonement” implies in the initially location. And this would imply hunting at the pivotal statement by Paul in Romans three:25 exactly where he says referring to Jesus, “whom God place forward as a sacrifice of atonement by his blood, helpful by means of faith.”
Just what “sacrifice of atonement” [or hilasterion in Greek] implies if pivotal for understanding the death of Jesus, the significance of his blood, and what it implies for our salvation.
The subsequent post will cover the 3 possibilities for understanding this sacrifice of atonement as either a propitiation (appeasement of God’s wrath), an expiation (cleansing from sin), or as mercy-seat (the location for getting God’s presence).
(For a cost-free mini-course expanding your understanding of why Jesus died, see The Forgotten Causes for Jesus’ Death — it is a distilled version of Geoff’s lectures at Northern Seminary on the atonement.)