A teenager sat with me in a tiny room of the residential treatment center. She was admitted to the program a few days before, and like the other adolescents there, if her parents had good insurance, she might stay there for up to three years. She showed me the scars that ran up the length of her left arm and lifted her pants leg to show me more tracks from her history of self-mutilation. This fifteen-year-old said she cut herself to see her own blood.
“I feel so dead inside. I do it to remind myself that I’m alive. It doesn’t hurt when I do it, but when I cut myself and I see my blood oozing up, I know that I still have life in there somewhere. It’s a spiritual thing for me.”
A college freshman met me at my office in the Student Union Center. He wanted to talk about faith and tell me his story. “I don’t worship Satan,” he said. “But I do go into the woods and make a circle on the ground. Then I stand in the center and cut myself so that I can offer my blood to the spirits to give me power.”
Were they confused? Yes. They also had some deep-set psychiatric issues going on and were under good mental health professionals’ care. But they also needed the good news that Jesus bled for them, so they didn’t have to.
There’s something primal and instinctive that tells us blood is significant. Ancient and primative cultures often had systems of animal and even human sacrifice. Blood was required.
For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul.‘ (NKJV) –Leviticus 17:11
Those two young people expressed feelings of lifelessness and powerlessness. They knew something was wrong with them. There’s really something wrong with all of us too.
Sin rules over us until we believe that we are forgiven because of Yeshua’s self-sacrifice as the perfect Lamb of God. It was intentional. Out of His selfless love for us, He shed his blood on that cross, died, and overcame death through His resurrection power.
God offered him, so that by his blood he should become the means by which people’s sins are forgiven through their faith in him. God did this in order to demonstrate that he is righteous. In the past he was patient and overlooked people’s sins; but in the present time he deals with their sins, in order to demonstrate his righteousness. In this way God shows that he himself is righteous and that he puts right everyone who believes in Jesus. (GNB) -Rom 3:25-26
Human blood is an amazing substance. It is essential that people donate to blood banks to save lives, when nothing else will suffice. Their gift may make the difference between life and death to someone. But it is no comparison to the the blood of Yeshua of Nazareth, who was fully human, but fully God at the same time.
Spiritual death reigns over us, too, until we accept the blood-bought gift of eternal life in Yeshua/Jesus, the Messiah.
Our violent, bloody society has cheapened life, but we seem squeamish about talking about the salvific effects of the atoning blood of Jesus. We prefer a sanitized cross.
A few movies, like Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ showed it vividly. I remember another one of the mid-twentieth century Biblical epics showing Him bleeding on the cross during the storm. The rain washed his blood down to Jerusalem’s rocky ground. The torrent took the red mixture of water and blood into Israel’s streams, and it flowed into the water systems that cover the earth. That’s a powerful image and powerful theology.
From Palm Sunday to Easter, we remember the events of that last week in Yeshua’s life on earth. Those events secured our freedom, deliverance, and redemption. His very name in Hebrew means salvation. That’s why I prefer to call Him by the name His Mama gave Him when He was born.
Thinking back on those two young people I mentioned, I know one of them professed Jesus as Savior. The other, I have no idea. What I do know is there is no real power or life available to us by any other means than His blood.
Here’s a little clip of Andre Crouch doing his song, “The Blood Will Never Lose Its Power.”
During this holy season, I pray that the meaning and message of these events of Yeshua’s life, observed each year, would be unmistakable to all who still need to hear this Good News. He was the spotless Lamb sacrificed at Passover, so that His blood would cover the sins of the world. Love put Him there, but love brought Him back. He rose again on Firstfruits to secure a place for you and me in the resurrection of the dead. Hallelujah!
Happy Resurrection Day to you all!