Why is Christianity So Focused on Blood? #324 Also: Should We ‘Plead the Blood of Jesus’ over things and people?
Happy Lord’s Day, Friends! I want to invite you to join us online today at 11am at our VBC Salinas Facebook page, as our church family launches into a new series on The Parables of Jesus. One of our big questions to consider Sunday will be: What Does the Parable of the Sower Teach us about evangelism, and HOW does the Parable of the Sower encourage reluctant evangelists?
Our Bible readings for this lovely Lord’s Day include 1 Chronicles 5-6 (more butchered Hebrew names – I’m sorry!), Psalms 148, 149 and 150, Amos 4 and Hebrews 10. That is a total of 7 chapters read, which sets the new all time record for Bible chapters read in a day, right? Well…maybe not.
We are continuing our discussion from yesterday about blood and Christianity. Christians sing, “There is power, power, wonder-working power in the blood, of the Lamb!” Have you ever considered how that song might sound to an outsider?? What a strange song, and really quite strange that the blood of Jesus is so central to our faith. I don’t mean strange in a denigrating way either – but it is helpful for us to remember that this is a potentially shockling tenet of our faith to an increasingly secular world, so we should be able to think through the importance of the blood of Jesus in a biblical sense, and given our Great Commission to take the good news and teachings of Jesus to a lost and dying world, we should be able to explain to skeptics, seekers, and the curious why “the blood” is such a big deal.
Consider Hebrews 10 today, our focus chapter. Three times blood is mentioned:
- 4 For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.
- 19 Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have boldness to enter the sanctuary through the blood of Jesus— 20 he has inaugurated for us a new and living way through the curtain (that is, through his flesh)— 21 and since we have a great high priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed in pure water.
- 29 How much worse punishment do you think one will deserve who has trampled on the Son of God, who has regarded as profane the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace?
The central importance of blood in both the Old Testament and the New Testament is illustrated by the fact that the phrase “the blood” appears over 125 times in most major translations of the Bible and the word blood appears nearly 400 times. When we look for blood in the Bible, we see things like:
- The last days believers overcoming the antichrist by the blood: “They conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; for they did not love their lives to the point of death.” Revelation 12:11
- We see the cleansing power of the blood of Jesus in 1 John 1:7 “If we walk in the light as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.”
- We see the blood of lambs spread over the doorposts of the homes of the Hebrews causing God to spare them in Exodus 12:23 “When the Lord passes through to strike Egypt and sees the blood on the lintel and the two doorposts, he will pass over the door and not let the destroyer enter your houses to strike you.“
- We see the blood of Jesus drawing near a new people to Himself in Ephesians 2:13 “But now in Christ Jesus, you who were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.“
So, the blood of Jesus is a big deal. Here is Spurgeon to further bring that truth home:
Standing at the foot of the cross, we see hands, and feet, and side, all distilling crimson streams of precious blood. It is “precious” because of its redeeming and atoning efficacy. By it the sins of Christ’s people are atoned for; they are redeemed from under the law; they are reconciled to God, made one with him. Christ’s blood is also “precious” in its cleansing power; it “cleanseth from all sin.” “Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow.” Through Jesus’ blood there is not a spot left upon any believer, no wrinkle nor any such thing remains. O precious blood, which makes us clean, removing the stains of abundant iniquity, and permitting us to stand accepted in the Beloved, notwithstanding the many ways in which we have rebelled against our God. The blood of Christ is likewise “precious” in its preserving power. We are safe from the destroying angel under the sprinkled blood. Remember it is God’s seeing the blood which is the true reason for our being spared. Here is comfort for us when the eye of faith is dim, for God’s eye is still the same.
The blood of Christ is “precious” also in its sanctifying influence. The same blood which justifies by taking away sin, does in its after-action, quicken the new nature and lead it onward to subdue sin and to follow out the commands of God. There is no motive for holiness so great as that which streams from the veins of Jesus. And “precious,” unspeakably precious, is this blood, because it has an overcoming power. It is written, “They overcame through the blood of the Lamb.” How could they do otherwise? He who fights with the precious blood of Jesus, fights with a weapon which cannot know defeat. The blood of Jesus! sin dies at its presence, death ceases to be death: heaven’s gates are opened. The blood of Jesus! we shall march on, conquering and to conquer, so long as we can trust its power!
C. H. Spurgeon, Morning and Evening: Daily Readings (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1896).
One more note: Perhaps you have heard somebody use the phrase, “I plead the blood of Jesus.” in prayer, or in a church setting. Is this a biblical practice? Strictly speaking, it is not – there seems to be no example in the Bible of anybody using the phrase, “I plead the blood of Jesus,” nor can I find any example of anything really close to such a thing. As we have seen, there is indeed power in the blood of Jesus, but that power is not ours to command, and I’m not really sure what ‘pleading the blood’ is meant to accomplish. We don’t have magic phrases or incantations in the Bible or in the church. There aren’t hidden or secret phrases known only to a few of the really inner circle and elite Christians that, when used, can invoke the power of God in an extra sort of way. Think about it this way: If you are praying for somebody, and you use the phrase, “I plead the blood of Jesus.” Do you expect that your use of such a phrase gives your prayer extra power, or oomph? Does it make your prayer more effective? Do demons flee when we ‘plead the blood of Jesus,’ but hang around and laugh at us if we don’t use that phrase? I don’t think so. I don’t think ‘pleading the blood of Jesus’ gives extra power and effect to our prayers, and when we think such things do, then it is almost like we are being a bit superstitious. Our faith can rest in the power of our word phrases rather than God or Jesus Himself. It reminds me of the phrase, “the blood of Christ compels you,” or “the power of Christ compels you,” that one sometimes hears exorcist-type priests use in horror movies. In most of those movies, it is clear that they expect that their accouterments of exorcism, like holy water, specific phrases, and signs of the cross and such, will have power to send the demons away. God has power over demons. Water blessed by mortal humans does not. Jesus rules over demons and commands them to depart, but phrases and signs and even cross-shaped items do not have power. Put your faith in Christ and God, and not in ceremonies, phrases, or objects. What has the power to drive demons away? Well, here is what the Bible says (and note that there are no magical phrases or prayers offered here):
7 Therefore, submit to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.
I am not really saying that it is a sin to ‘plead the blood of Jesus,’ but I am suggesting that we should probably distance ourselves from practices that we see no saint doing in Scripture and that we find no basis whatsoever for in Scripture.