Friday, April 17, 2009

Life Blood

[From 4/15/09]

"For the life of the flesh is in the blood; and I have given it to you for making atonement for your lives on the altar; for, as life, it is the blood that makes atonement."
(Leviticus 17:11)

We live in a different time. Today, blood is something we reserve for horror movies, mainly. Back in the OT times, however, it was LIFE! Leviticus is all about the cultic worship practices of Israel - namely sacrificial offerings, rules & regulations. The book contains a number of specific sacrifices for specific sins. It's very detailed, too (ie. what kinds of animals to use, what to do with the parts & blood of said animals, carcass removal, etc.).

In chapters 16-17, Leviticus talks about The Day of Atonement. This was the one day every year when the general sins of everyone in Israel are universally forgiven. This involves both a sacrificial goat (amongst many other animals, too) and a "scape-goat" (who's released into the wilderness, carrying away the sins of the people!). When all of the rules and regs are explained, God goes on to talk about blood in general. Whenever an animal is killed, the people of God are not to consume the blood... but rather pour it out on the ground. Why? The Life is in the Blood! And it's the blood that makes the atonement effecacious (effective)!

This goes a long way in understanding the sacrificial theology of the crucifixion of Jesus. As the ultimate "unblemished" (ie. w/o sin) creature, Jesus' blood becomes the atoning sacrifice for the entire world. No more scape-goats needed.

Those of us who have spent any amount of time in church know this theology. It's almost like second-nature to us. However, we no longer live in a "sacrificial offering culture." So, to the outsider, it may seem a strange concept (to put it mildly), or even barbaric!

So what's a modern-day Christian to do? I think it's still a powerful image to know that God created us so that our life is found in our blood (it is "the gift of life," as the Blood Bank tells us!). And to know that the blood of Jesus, more than anyone else who came before or since, has incredible power and life! The only question is (in this week after Easter)... will we welcome it into our lives?

PRAYER: Awesome God, as we bask in the glow of this past Sunday's Easter festivities... help me to remember the incredible power that is available to me through the sacrificial death of Jesus. Not just to me, but to the whole world! Help me to value & treasure that gift... while at the same time, recognizing the life that is all around me, through the blood of my fellow humans. May I become one who helps direct people from life to LIFE! AMEN.

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