Sjolander Road Fellowship




Declaring the God of Unconditional Love

power in the blood

12/30/13

 

The old hymn proclaims that there is power in the blood of the Lamb. I'd like to reconsider what that expression means. Typically the church leaves us with the understanding that the blood of Jesus worked essentially like the blood of bulls and goats in the OT except that the blood of Jesus was once for all and that of the OT had to be repeated over and over. In both cases the physical shedding of blood was a required ritual to appease God and divert his wrath from the sinner. In this understanding the physical blood can be seen almost as a magic elixir which erases or blots sin from the mind of God.

 

Of course, some will likely feel that the blood is better seen as  a symbol of an exchange process, one in which God accepts the death of the sacrifice as restitution for another's sinfulness. The innocence of the animal or Jesus substitutes for the lack of innocence in the sinner. Seeing this kind of symbolism in the blood, I think is more nearly the truth, but I still find the associated payment/appeasement metaphor troubling. Why would destroying one life cause God to view me differently afterward, either potentially or in fact.

 

I accept the idea that the shed blood of Jesus is entirely symbolic in its significance. But I differ in what I think it symbolizes. Instead of symbolizing God swapping the innocence of one for the guilt of another, I suggest that the shedding of Christ's blood was the most potent possible demonstration of his and God's commitment to the transformative power of love. It was the perfect example of what Jesus taught his disciples about self sacrifice, humility, and abundant life. The love demonstrated by his personal sacrifice, as symbolized by the shed blood, is the greatest power in the universe. The blood per se is not the power; it is the motivation behind that blood which transforms the human heart.

 

In this understanding the blood does nothing to change God's mind and cause Him to relinquish His ill feelings against me. The blood was shed in accordance with the divine plan, not to change God but to change me. The change in me does not change God, who remains immutable throughout the entire transformation.

 

Until we relinquish our warped picture of Jesus as just some greater more perfect being to be killed just like the bulls and goats of OT Judaism, thereby diverting God's displeasure, we will never, never appreciate the true nature of God, the work of Jesus, our own human identity and potential, or the meaning of love. The blood of Jesus does not work hocus pocus on God; instead it represents the true magic which underlies the total creation.

 

The multiple ways God's work in Christ is represented in the Bible is not an excuse to accept a diminished picture of God as one who demands appeasement and blind obedience to confused and conflicting requirements. Such drives me personally to seek a new way to view the power in the blood.