This is Memorial Day weekend. We remember all those who have died to earn, secure, keep, and maintain the liberty that you and I still possess as Americans. Think of it! Since the American Revolution began in 1775, more than 665,000 Americans soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines have lost their lives in battle. American blood has stained the ground in every corner of this world.
Originally called Decoration Day, Memorial Day is a day of remembrance for those who have died in service of the United States of America. Memorial Day was borne out of the Civil War and a desire to honor our dead. It was officially proclaimed three years after the end of the Civil War. On May 5, 1868, General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, issued this proclamation:
“The 30th of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard in the land.” (That’s why it was called “Decoration Day.”)
Incidentally, May 30 was chosen because it was not the anniversary of any particular bat-tle. On that first Decoration Day, General James Garfield made a speech at Arlington National Cemetery, and 5,000 participants decorated the graves of the 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers buried there.
It is perfectly appropriate and right for us to remember those who have shed their blood and died for our national freedom from tyranny and oppression. After all, how can we appreciate what we have if we neither know nor remember what it cost to obtain and keep it? So we remember them.
But today is more than Memorial Day Sunday. It is also Communion Sunday. And it is perfectly appropriate and right for us to remember the One who has shed His blood and died for our eternal freedom from sin and its consequences. After all, how can we appre-ciate what we have if we neither know nor remember what it cost to obtain and keep it? So we remember Jesus.
Jesus suffered, bled, and died a horrible death for us. He took our place so that we could be freed from the consequences of our sin. It is Jesus’ blood alone that has the power to save us because it is Jesus’ blood alone that was never tainted with sin.
But the question is often asked, “Why does it have to be blood? Couldn’t there have been some other way? Couldn’t God have designed it differently?” Blood! Pain! Death! It isn’t a pretty picture, is it? We are put off by it. We turn our eyes away from it. We don’t want to see it. And that’s precisely the point! God is put off by sin.
He turns His eyes away from it. He doesn’t want to see it. Why? Because God hates sin! Sin causes death. So how better for God to teach His people what He thinks about sin than to connect the results of sin directly to blood, to pain, and to death?
The Bible is not a medical textbook. But whenever the Bible speaks on any science, it is always correct. We expect Moses to be theologically correct. But in Leviticus we find that, through the power and wisdom of the Holy Spirit, he is also scientifically correct.
11 For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you on the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood by reason of the life that (that it represents) makes (effective the) atonement.
“…by reason of the life…that it represents.” So blood not only illustrates life, it provides life. And blood must be shed; life must be given for forgiveness of sins.
22 And according to the (Mosaic) Law, one may almost say, all things are cleansed with blood, and without (the) shedding of blood there is no forgive-ness.
The writer of Hebrews speaks of forgiveness. In Leviticus Moses speaks of atonement. What is atonement? Atonement is simply “the process of bringing those who are ene-mies into harmony and unity.” That leads to reconciliation. What is reconciliation? Reconciliation can be defined as “the restoration of a relationship after disagreement and hostility.”
So put it all together. Christ has made atonement for our sin, which has resulted in our reconciliation with God, and in the process we have been forgiven. How did Christ do that? He did it by shedding His own blood, thus restoring our relationship with God and providing forgiveness of sin.
Leviticus 17:11 – “The life of the flesh is in the blood…” and Hebrews 9:22 – “…without (the) shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.” These two biblical truths are at the core of what we remember and what we celebrate when we come together as a church to share in the Lord’s Supper.
Now consider this… If God says that atonement needs to be made, it should be clear to us that He has enemies with whom He wants harmony and unity, or peace. One of the great blessings of being a Christians is that you have been given the peace of God.
7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and you minds in Christ Jesus.
But that’s the peace of God…not peace with God. While the two are most certainly related, they are vastly different.
The peace of God is a gift of grace that we experience in our lives as we are sanctified and grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ.
But experiencing the peace of God is impossible unless and until we have peace with God. Peace with God comes when the war is over, when you are saved. Such peace means that the former enemies are now friends. The peace process is “making atone-ment.” As Christians, this atonement has been made for us.
1 …having been justified (made righteous) by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
We have seen that blood is required for atonement. But not just any blood. God made it clear that it had to be the blood of a young, innocent, and spotless animal. That is, one which (in appearance at least) was perfect. This is pictured in Exodus 12 where God prepares the Israelites for their first Passover.
*Exodus 12:3-13 (excerpts)
3 “Speak to all the congregation of Israel, saying, ‘On the tenth of this (the first) month they are each one to take a lamb for themselves, according to their fathers’ households, a lamb for each household.
5 ‘Your lamb shall be an unblemished male a year old; you may take it from the sheep or from the goats.
6 ‘And you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month, then the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel is to kill it at twilight.
7 ‘Moreover, they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two door-posts and on the lintel of the houses in which they eat it.
12 ‘For I will go through the land of Egypt on that night, and will strike down all the first-born in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment – I am the LORD.
13 ‘And the blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you live; and when I see the blood I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.’”
In this passage God establishes the blood atonement. The people were to put themselves “under the blood.” This blood of the spotless lamb was innocent blood. Symbolically, by being under it, they were covered by it. But this is the best that could be hoped for in the OT. Hundreds of years later King David acknowledges this when he says…
1 How blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered!
David knew the sacrificial system provided innocent blood for this picture of covered sin. But he also knew that no matter how many times he did it, it wasn’t enough.
It had to be done again and again ad infinitum. It never stopped. Israel would be required to spill such innocent blood until it was done once for all.
God was teaching them something. And it went all the way back to Mt. Moriah and to Abraham and to Isaac.
7 And Isaac spoke to Abraham his father and said, “My father!” And (Abraham) said, “Here I am, my son.” And (Isaac) said, “Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?”
8 And Abraham said, “God will provide for Himself the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.”
So the Lamb must be provided by God, the Lamb must be perfect, and the Lamb must be in human flesh. Otherwise the lamb’s blood simply continues to cover our sin, to hide it from view. But simply covering or hiding our sin is no longer sufficient. Our sin must be removed. It must be taken away. Why? Because…
4 For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.
All the OT prophets pointed ahead in time to the Lamb who would finally take away sins.
In the fullness of time, the last of them, John the Baptist, pointed directly at Jesus and identified Him for us all.
29 …(John) saw Jesus coming to him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”
“…without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness (Hebrews 9:22b).” We need to be washed in the shed blood of the innocent and spotless Lamb of God applied. Someone has said, “It’s the only detergent that gets sin out.”
I want us to take some time to consider what Jesus’ blood is actually like. What are its characteristics? How is it the same as yours and mine, and how is it different than yours and mine? Here are some ways in which Jesus’ blood and ours are virtually the same.
• First, the average human body has about five quarts of blood and you can only lose so much before life is no longer sustainable.
• Second, our blood is composed of four essential ingredients. They are plasma (90%), red cells, white cells, and platelets.
But here is where the similarities end. There is something else running in your veins and in my veins that the most powerful electron microscope will never see. It’s a disease called sin. It’s is the disease that ages us and eventually kills us. It was transmitted to us by our parents, Adam and Eve. All of their sons and daughters inherited it. All of us, that is, except God’s Son.
The blood that ran through Jesus’ veins was physiologically just like ours – 90% plasma, red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. But the sin carried in your blood was not there. He did not inherit sin because it was NOT transmitted to Him by His Father.
That’s why we need to have His blood applied to our lives. That’s why we need to know about His blood. Our blood is contaminated and it’s going to kill us! Spiritually, it already has. We need a transfusion – we need to get good blood working for us.
Christ’s blood flows through the Bible like our blood flows through our veins – it’s everywhere. Blood is mentioned over 420 times in the Bible. It has been said, “Cut the Bible anywhere and it will bleed.” It’s really quite simple.
No blood → no gospel → no redemption → no forgiveness → no salvation → no eternal life → no hope!
28 “…for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins.”
7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace.
How is Jesus blood different than ours? Christ’s blood is unique in at least seven differ-ent ways. It is perfect, it’s pure, it’s perpetual, it’s powerful, it’s permanent, it’s pre-cious, and it’s protective. I’m going to let God’s Word define these for us.
1. Jesus’ blood is unique because it is Perfect.
There is no sin in it. Jesus testified to that Himself when He questioned the Pharisees.
46 “Which one of you convicts Me of sin? If I speak truth, why do you not believe Me?”
You would expect such claims from His followers, wouldn’t you?
2 Corinthians 5:21 (Paul speaking)
21 He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
1 Peter 2:22 (Peter speaking)
22 (He) committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth.
1 John 3:5 (John speaking)
5 He appeared in order to take away sins; in Him there is no sin.
26 For it was fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners and exalted above the heavens…
Again, you would expect such claims from Jesus’ friends. But what about His enemies?
What did Jesus’ enemies say?
Luke 22:4 (Pontius Pilate)
4 “I find no guilt in this man.”
Matthew 27:4 (Judas speaking)
4 “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.”
So Jesus’ blood is perfect.
2. Jesus’ blood is unique because it is Pure.
That is to say it is uncontaminated. We don’t use alcoholic wine in our Communion ser-vice. We use grape juice. The reason for this is not necessarily what you might think. Wine is fermented grape juice. Fermentation is a bacterial process activated by yeast. Yeast (leaven) is used throughout Scripture as a symbol of sin.
Therefore, alcoholic wine could never rightly portray the blood of Christ. Unfermented grape juice presents an accurate symbol of Christ’s blood just as unleavened bread pre-sents an accurate symbol of Christ’s body. (no leaven – no sin)
13 For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been defiled, sanctify for the cleansing of the flesh, 14 how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God…?
1 Peter 1:18-19
18 …you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver and gold…
19 but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.
1 John 1:7
7 …the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.
On other Communion Sundays we’ve sung “Nothing but the Blood of Jesus.” As is the case with all the great hymns of the faith, it conveys doctrine truthfully and accurately.
“What can wash away my sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
What can make me whole again? Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
Oh, precious is the flow That makes me white as snow.
No other fount I know. Nothing but the blood of Jesus.”
Jesus’ blood is pure.
3. Jesus’ blood is unique because it is Perpetual.
There is no need for continual sacrifices. In this we see one of the central themes of the Book of Hebrews. Unlike the animal sacrifices of the OT, Jesus’ sacrifice was once for all time. This is one of the major distinctions between Catholic and Protestant teachings.
Roman Catholic doctrine spills Jesus’ blood anew at every Mass. Catholicism teaches that His literal blood is present in the Holy Eucharist. This is known as the “Doctrine of Transubstantiation.” The Catholic Information Service has published a “Catholic Word Book.” Here is the Roman Catholic definition…
“The way Christ is made present in this sacrament (Holy Eucharist) is none other than by the change of the whole substance of the bread into His body, and the whole substance of the wine into His blood… this unique and wonderful change the Catholic Church rightly calls transubstantiation.”
This doctrinal position was reiterated in the encyclical “Mysterium Fidei” affirmed by Pope Paul VI, September 3, 1965.
At LBC, our doctrinal position is based on Scripture, not the traditions of men. Scripture clearly teaches that…
*Hebrews 7:27; 10:10-14
27 (Jesus) does not need daily, like those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins, and then for the sins of the people, because this He did once for all when He offered up Himself.
10:10 By this will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
11 And every priest stands daily ministering and offering time after time the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins;
12 but He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, sat down at the right hand of God,
13 waiting from that time onward until His enemies be made a footstool for His feet.
14 For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.
As you prepare your hearts to receive these symbolic elements remember to thank God that He has washed us in the blood of the everlasting covenant. Jesus obediently shed His blood for you and me. And He only had to do it once!
Jesus’ blood is perpetual.
4. Jesus’ blood is unique because it is Powerful.
It has enough power to defeat Satan and to save our souls.
11 (the brethren) overcame him (Satan) because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony…
False religion always denies the power of the blood. But of course false religion has no power. In a few minutes we’ll sing “There Is Power in the Blood.” Once again, the hymn writer gets it right.
“Would you be free from your burden of sin?
There’s power in the blood, power in the blood.
Would you o’er evil a victory win?
There’s wonderful power in the blood.
There is power, power, wonder working power
In the blood of the Lamb.
There is power, power, wonder working power
In the precious blood of the Lamb.”
So Jesus’ blood is powerful.
5. Jesus’ blood is unique because it is Permanent.
Think of permanent as eternal. If you have been washed in the blood of the Lamb then you are eternal as well. Remember that all of your sins – past, present, and future – have been washed away in the flow. (That includes sins of omission as well as sins of commission.)
Have you done some things you should not have done? Of course! And so have I. Have you failed to do some things you should have done? Of course! And so have I. Listen, Christian! God has removed your sin. Period!
12 As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgres- sions from us.
22 “I have wiped out your transgressions like a thick cloud, and your sins like a heavy mist. Return to Me, for I have redeemed you.”
23a Shout for joy, O heavens, for the LORD has done it!
25 “I, even I, am the One who wipes out your transgressions for My own sake; and I will not remember your sins.”
This is amazing to me. Not only has God removed our sin but He promised to forget it.
He will not recall them or bring them to mind. I don’t know how God can forget some-thing, but He says He will.
That means Jesus’ blood is permanent.
6. Jesus’ blood is unique because it is Precious (priceless).
19 (We have been redeemed) with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.
The word “precious” is translated from the Greek word “timiŏs.” It can be translated “superior, valuable, costly, honored, esteemed, and beloved.”
Later, Peter uses the same word when he describes God’s promises to His children.
2 Peter 1:4
4 …He has granted to us His precious (timiŏs) and magnificent promises, in order that by them you might become partakers of the divine nature…
Quite simply, Jesus’ blood is the best. His blood is priceless.
7. Jesus’ blood is unique because it is Protective.
Nothing can penetrate it.
• Are you “under the blood?” (example of Passover)
• Has God spoken to you with the Gospel of Jesus Christ?
• Have you heeded the warning?
Many would ask, “What warning? God is love, isn’t He?” God promised salvation to the Israelites when they were in captivity in Egypt. All they had to do was obey Him. He commanded them to “get under the blood and they would be saved.” Those who obeyed lived. Those who did not obey died. The angel of death came for them.
13 “And the blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you live; and when I see the blood I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.”
Jesus’ blood is protective.
Today we remember the hundreds of thousands of Americans soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines who have shed their blood and died in battle for the cause of freedom. Their memory is to be honored. But none of the blood they shed could save a single human soul – not even their own. The problem is that their blood was infected with sin.
We need Jesus’ blood applied to our account. His blood – perfect, pure, perpetual, powerful, permanent, precious, and protective – is the only thing that can help us. If you change your mind about Jesus (repent), confess your sin and be willing to turn from it, put your faith and trust in Him and in Him alone, Jesus’ blood will be applied to your account.
Why do you need to be “under the blood?” Because if you are not, when God looks at you, all He sees is your sin. But if you are, if you have been washed in the blood of the perfect Lamb, He sees one of His own whom He now invites to this table.
~ Pray ~