There’s Power In The Blood

Dr. Kevin DeYoung, Senior Pastor

Leviticus 17 | April 16 - Sunday Morning,

Sunday Morning,
April 16
There’s Power In The Blood | Leviticus 17
Dr. Kevin DeYoung, Senior Pastor

Father in heaven, give us grace now that we may hear Your Word, receive it with gladness, that some may be saved, that all would be built up in our most holy faith, and that Jesus would be glorified. In His name we pray. Amen.

Have you ever stopped to think, and perhaps you’ve even thought it this morning, through all of these songs and readings, how strange it is that we as Christians talk so much about blood. If you’ve been in a church for a long time, you’re just used to it, but outside of the context of church, when you talk about blood, it’s usually not a good thing. If someone talks about blood and guts, that’s a bad movie or something traumatic in the hospital or something to make people faint or squeamish. If somebody cries, “I’m bleeding!” that’s a bad thing.

I’ve maybe told you the story, years ago when I babysat when I was in seminary, before I was married, for this couple that lived in the apartments on campus and they had a couple of young boys and how much could go wrong with me baby-sitting them just over the course of a dinner for two or three hours? Sure enough, one of those little tykes crawled up on the countertop in the bathroom and fell and somehow hit his head. I didn’t know that. What I just knew is he came screaming out of the bathroom, looking sort of like Mel Gibson in Braveheart with just, minus the blue war paint, just blood. And I thought, “What have I done?” This is not what you want to happen when you’re baby-sitting someone else’s children. I did what any good baby-sitter would do and that was I went to find a real parent, and there happened to be on the apartment some, a dad who was home and he came in and calmly. It turns out that, you know, you get a cut somewhere on the back of your head and it does look a lot worse than it is. It was just a mere flesh wound, but it bled a lot, and the sight of blood was terrifying. Especially since it was not my own.

When we talk about blood, it stains, it smells, it has a pungent aroma, it tastes bad. Well, you don’t want to taste it. I remember, again this was several years ago, I can’t even remember which of my children said this, but we were in Colorado one summer and Trisha’s dad was preaching at a church way up into the mountains a ways, a couple hour drive from Colorado Springs. It was a small, rural, mountain sort of church and so I gather they didn’t have nice city water but it was on a well or something. We got there and rushed in and one of my children went right to the drinking fountain, was thirsty, took a big slurping gulp of it and just announced loud enough for everyone in the church to hear, “This water tastes like blood.”

We had not actually given the child much blood previously to know what it tasted like, but there was some connection of something, maybe having gotten a bloody finger at some, the iron richness of this well water tastes like blood.

Blood is bad. If someone says blood is everywhere, covered in blood, it’s terrible. And yet life in the church, we’re constantly singing about blood.

It would be strange if you did this in some other context. [singing] “Daddy cut his finger, he’s bleeding, he’s bleeding, precious, precious blood on the floor. Daddy’s bleeding, he’s bleeding, let him bleed out some more.” You would say, “Eww. What are you doing? No. Get a Band-Aid. Wrap it up.”

But we come Sunday after Sunday, we sing of the precious blood, “Come thou fount, the blood that cleanse each spot, just as I am, gaining an interest in the Savior’s blood, and can it be?” We sing about the blood that gives strength from day to day. We sang this morning “The wonder working power of the blood, O for a thousand tongues, the blood that makes the foulest clean.”

Perhaps you’re new to this Christianity thing, or are just visiting church this morning, and you may have already thought these songs are strange.

Why are Christians so passionate about blood when in the rest of life we want nothing to do with it?

This chapter, Leviticus 17, explains why blood is precious, why the Jews couldn’t eat it, and why the stain of blood paradoxically is the only thing that can make us clean.

Follow along, if you’re not there already, Leviticus 17. The third book in the Bible, Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus 17.

We read in verse 1, “The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to Aaron and his sons and to all the people of Israel and say to them, This is the thing that the Lord has commanded.”

Now what follows seems very haphazard, but as we found throughout Leviticus, there’s actually a rather simple structure to it. What you’re going to find are five times you have the language of “if anyone” or “anyone who” or something like that. So there are five laws related to blood and eating and animals and sacrifice.

So here’s the first law. It begins at verse 3.

“If any one of the house of Israel kills an ox or a lamb or a goat in the camp, or kills it outside the camp, and does not bring it to the entrance of the tent of meeting to offer it as a gift to the Lord in front of the tabernacle of the Lord, bloodguilt shall be imputed to that man. He has shed blood, and that man shall be cut off from among his people. This is to the end that the people of Israel may bring their sacrifices that they sacrifice in the open field, that they may bring them to the Lord, to the priest at the entrance of the tent of meeting, and sacrifice them as sacrifices of peace offerings to the Lord. And the priest shall throw the blood on the altar of the Lord at the entrance of the tent of meeting and burn the fat for a pleasing aroma to the Lord. So they shall no more sacrifice their sacrifices to goat demons, after whom they whore. This shall be a statute forever for them throughout their generations.”

This is the first law. It’s the longest. It seems complicated, but it’s really simple. The law states “bring your sacrifice to the tent of meeting.” You are not to commit your sacrifices in any old place if you kill a common domesticated animal that might be used for a sacrifice. Then you want to make sure that you are not doing this sacrifice somewhere out in the open, whether in the camp or outside the camp.

Commentators differ on whether the rules here have to do with every time you kill an animal, whether you’re eating it or sacrificing it, or whether it has to do just ritually when you slaughter an animal for sacrifice. I think that it has to do, the prohibition, with those killed explicitly for sacrifices because of the explanation that follows. It would be perhaps impractical every time you killed an animal to eat it, though meat was rare, that you have to go and bring it to the tabernacle.

But I think this has to do with sacrifices, because you see the reference there. Verse 7 – “You shall no more sacrifice to goat demons.” We have to sort of imagine what might have been going on, that perhaps you have some people who are very drawn as it was common. These seem strange to us. Well, that’s about the last thing you’re going to be tempted to do, goat demons. But it’s what everyone else was doing, and you need to sacrifice to get these evil spirits sort of off of your property. So you can imagine that somebody sacrifices an animal and maybe sort of on the side, just in their private area, among their family, they quick offer this as a sacrifice to some sort of other god or demon.

In order to remove this potential temptation, God says, “No, you can’t hide that.” You know, somebody comes over, says, “What are you doing there, slitting the throat of your heifer there?” “Oh, just sacrificing to Yahweh.” Well, if you’re sacrificing to Yahweh, you need to come bring this to the tent of meeting. God wanted certain animals sacrificed only by certain people in a certain way in a certain place. Most importantly, He was the only one to whom they were to sacrifice. So I think the gist of this commandment was to prevent them from surreptitiously sacrificing to other sorts of gods or goddesses or demons or spirits or ancestors.

To say yes to Yahweh, to the Lord, meant that they had to say no to every other god.

God in our life is not like one of our children. You can love more than one child, and you welcome more than one child, and your love multiplies and grows. No, God in our life is not like a child, but like a husband and a wife. When you come together, you pledge forsaking all others, I will now bind myself to you in this covenant of marriage.

So it is with God. He wants to ensure that they are forsaking all others and they bring the sacrifice to the tabernacle to Him. That’s the first law.

Second law. Verse 8.

“And you shall say to them, Any one of the house of Israel, or of the strangers who sojourn among them, who offers a burnt offering or sacrifice and does not bring it to the entrance of the tent of meeting to offer it to the Lord, that man shall be cut off.”

So this is the same law, but now it’s just making clear this applies not only to the native Israelite but to any strangers and sojourners among you. They live by the same rules, and so if they’re going to have a sacrifice, they need to bring it to the tabernacle. They need to bring it to the tent of meeting.

Verse 10. Here’s the third of these five laws. You can see again the language of “if any.”

“If any one of the house of Israel or of the strangers who sojourn among them eats any blood, I will set my face against that person who eats blood and will cut him off from among his people. For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it for you on the altar to make atonement for your souls, for it is the blood that makes atonement by the life. Therefore I have said to the people of Israel, No person among you shall eat blood, neither shall any stranger who sojourns among you eat blood.”

This commandment is given with reference to those native-born among the Israelites, strangers and sojourners also. Very simply put – do not eat blood.

The Lord says “I will set My face against the person. I will cut him off.” As best as we can figure, the language of “cutting off” is some kind of banishment, some sort of exile beyond the camp. Presumably it’s not death because certain infractions require death and that was explained differently, but cut off, banished, set My face. You are not to eat blood.

Fourth law. Drain the blood. Verse 13.

“Any one also of the people of Israel, or of the strangers who sojourn among them, who takes in hunting any beast or bird that may be eaten shall pour out its blood and cover it with earth. For the life of every creature is its blood: its blood is its life. Therefore I have said to the people of Israel, You shall not eat the blood of any creature, for the life of every creature is its blood. Whoever eats it shall be cut off.”

So if you kill a clean animal while hunting, you don’t need to bring it to the tabernacle. It may not be a sacrificial animal anyway and you’re going to have a hard time chasing a deer into the tabernacle. It’s much easier to lead a goat or a sheep or a bull. But here the law is if you’re hunting and you have an animal, you are to drain its blood. So just a further provision to make sure you’re not ingesting any blood from an animal. You drain it.

Then here’s the fifth law, which has to do with washing your clothes when you may have been contaminated by blood. Verse 15.

“And every person who eats what dies of itself,” so this you find some animal, you didn’t kill it, it wasn’t for a sacrifice, it have been “torn by beasts, whether he is a native or a sojourner, shall wash his clothes and bathe himself in water and be unclean until the evening; then he shall be clean. But if he does not wash them or bathe his flesh, he shall bear his iniquity.”

So this envisions the scene where you find an animal already dead. So there’s a lot of things you don’t know. You don’t know how the animal died. You don’t know if it was killed by another animal, if it’s been dead for a short time or a long time. So you don’t have to drain the blood because it might be too late, it may have lost most of its blood already. But if you take this animal, you eat of this animal, you will be unclean until the evening because you never know, there may still have been blood present in the animal. This is a provision sort of halfway in the middle. You’re not cut off because you aren’t deliberately eating blood, but you aren’t free and clear because it’s possible there’s some blood left in this dead animal. So kind of a middle ground, you’re unclean until the evening and you must wash yourself. As long as you do that, you’re good to be back in society. If you don’t, then it’s a sin.

So every sin renders you unclean, but not every act of uncleanness is a sin. So understand those categories. You’re ritually unclean, but that’s not a sin unless you don’t obey what the Lord says to be unclean until the evening and to wash your clothes.

So these five laws. Bring the sacrifice to the tent of meeting, same law for strangers and sojourners, don’t eat the blood, drain the blood, and if it’s a dead animal already, wash your clothes and be unclean until the evening just to be safe.

This chapter, very obviously, is about one thing. It’s about blood.

We are in the second half, a different half of this same book. Chapters 1 through 16 you can think about, God’s instructions, what is necessary to come in to God’s presence. All of the food laws, all of the sacrifices, the day of atonement. What is necessary to get you to the place where you can be in God’s presence.

Now chapters 17 through 27 are about what is necessary, you might say, to remain in His presence.

One commentator makes the point, though we don’t to overstate it, there’s something, however, to these two terms, that Leviticus at one level is about how the mishkan can become the Ohel Moed. Now what’s that? Mishkan is the word for tabernacle. Some of you maybe heard Shekinah, the tabernacle glory of the Lord. Comes over in Greek as xekina, that the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, tabernacled among us. Mishkan is the tabernacle. This other phrase, Ohel Moed, is the tent of meeting.

Now sometimes they’re used interchangeably so we don’t want to make too much of this distinction, and yet there probably is some distinction to be made. The tabernacle is God’s house, dwells in His house. Leviticus is in part how can the tabernacle, where God lives, become the tent of meeting, where we can meet with God.

It’s one thing to say there’s a house in the middle of neighborhood where the King lives, and it’s a special house, and we see it there up on a hill. We don’t just barge our way into that house. That’s the most precious house in the whole neighborhood, right in the middle of it. The King lives there. It’s His dwelling place.

Well, that’s amazing. But even more amazing, if there’s a way for you to approach the King’s house and His house then becomes a meeting house. That’s what Leviticus is about. Or as we’ve said from the beginning, how can an unholy people dwell with a holy God, or how can a holy God dwell in the midst of an unholy people? How does the tabernacle become the tent of meeting?

These requirements are for maintaining that holy space that God’s people can at least approach. Only the high priest could go all the way in, but at least approach this tent of meeting.

We’ve seen throughout Leviticus a number of times prohibitions related to blood. There’s been laws about menstruation, laws about childbirth, laws about hemorrhages, also lots of things about blood coming out of you.

Why blood?

Well, we don’t get the answer to this riddle until chapter 17. Look again at verse 11. Here’s the answer, in the Old Testament mindset, why all of these rules about blood?

Verse 11: “For the life of the flesh is in the blood.” That’s the answer.

In fact, between verses 11 and 14, the connection between life and blood is made five times.

Look at verse 14: “For the life of every creature is its blood: its blood is its life… You shall not eat the blood of any creature for the life of every creature is its blood.”

Leviticus could not be any clearer. This connection. Why is blood set apart? Why are these holy rituals related to blood? Because blood is life. Blood was thought to carry the essence of life, and it’s not that far removed from, though in a primitive scientific way, how we understand that you do need blood to live and course through your veins. If you bleed too much you can bleed out your very life.

Therefore, to refrain from eating blood was to honor life. To eat the blood in an animal was to despise life.

So the point with all of these laws that have to do with blood was to inculcate in God’s people the utmost respect for life.

This thought can be traced all the way back to Genesis chapter 9. Perhaps put a finger in Leviticus and turn back to Genesis 9, the very first book, the ninth chapter. Genesis 9, verse 4, Genesis 9, verse 4: “But you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is its blood.”

Same equation in Leviticus 17 all the way back in Genesis – ” And for your lifeblood I will require a reckoning: from every beast I will require it and from man. From his fellow man I will require a reckoning for the life of man. “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in His own image.””

There in verse 6 is at least __ the biblical rationale for capital punishment. It’s not because we don’t believe that all people have the image of God but because all people do have the image of God, that whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed.

It is such a serious and severe thing to take life. There we see again the simple equation, to shed blood is to shed life. All of life is sacred.

For animals, well, you can eat animals, they’re of a different class, of course, than human beings, but you don’t eat the blood. You don’t shed blood of people. All human life is precious.

So except on those occasions where taking a human life is the execution of God’s judicial sentence upon an individual or a nation, then life is to be protected at all costs.

We do read in Romans 13 that the sword, that the magistrate, bears the sword, that he is the avenger of wrath so that God does execute His justice through the governing authority, so there is a place. But when we have innocent life, God alone is the One who has the right to take it, by disease, by tragedy, by old age. Only God has the right to end life. The life of every human being by virtue of being made in the image of God is sacred and deserves to be protected. The Christian view of life, in other words, is not utilitarian. The sacredness of life is not based on one’s function or ability, but on the inherent worth of the human person.

Which is why abortion is wrong, why euthanasia is wrong. No one except God has the right to end innocent life, and that includes the person who may want to end his or her own life.

We are not talking about extraordinary measures to keep someone alive. Those are hard decisions that families have to face sometimes in the hospital, or you write these things down ahead of time. Those are extraordinary measures to keep someone alive.

We’re talking about active measures to put someone to death. The Bible says all of life is precious. The one symbol, metaphor, artifact that the Bible uses to describe the preciousness of life is blood. Because life is blood, the shedding of blood is necessary for atonement.

Look again at verse 11 – “For the life of the flesh is in the blood and I have given it for you on the altar to make atonement for your souls, for it is the blood that makes atonement by the life.” That is, by a life laid down for another.

Why have we seen so often in Leviticus, and even in this chapter, the sprinkling of blood? Why do we do sprinkling with baptism?

Well, there are many different ways and different churches apply the water in different ways, but there is good biblical warrant for sprinkling. All throughout the Old Testament, it was the sprinkling that symbolized the active of cleansing. They would sprinkle on the altar, or around the holy place. To sprinkle with blood was to create an environment where God could now accept and the worshiper could now move freely.

You can’t make sense of all of this, or the laying on of hands on the animal, except to understand that God saves us by substitution. He substitutes one life for another. Life belongs to God, which is why the Israelites could not eat blood. God’s way of saving sinners has always been by this bloody atonement, this sacrifice, this substitution.

You find this, it happens every generation. In fact, you can just about count on it about every 5 or 10 years it seems like somebody else will come out with a book and they’ll be arguing against all of you Christians who are conservative, Bible Christians, all of you people with your bloody atonement, your violent atonement, this picture of God’s wrath as if He’s bloodthirsty and capricious up in heaven, and they paint a picture to say, “No, no, no. God’s atonement is something different.” Maybe it’s just an expression of God’s love, or maybe the atonement is just God’s way of saying, “Here’s what is right in the universe.” Or maybe God’s atonement is just the vanquishing of evil powers.

Well, all of those things have some truth to them, but none of them hold together unless we have atonement by a bloody substitutionary sacrifice. That’s the way the entire system in Leviticus held together.

Here’s how John Stott puts it in one sentence so well: The biblical gospel of atonement is of God satisfying Himself by substituting Himself for us.

The biblical gospel of atonement, atonement, at one ment. How do estranged parties become reconciled? The biblical gospel of atonement is of God satisfying Himself.

You think of Leviticus 1, the pleasing aroma, just like you would smell chocolate chip cookies wafting in, or the barbecue somewhere, oh, that’s good.

Satisfying, pleasing aroma. God satisfies Himself, His justice, His perfection. How? By substitution. Namely, on the cross by substituting Himself in the person of His Son.

Notice also, verse 11: “I have given it for you on the altar.”

So this act of substitution was God’s gift to us. This is important. The sacrificial system was not some crass human attempt to placate an angry God. That’s the caricature, either of the Old Testament or the New Testament. Just some vengeful God up there and He’s just ready, Zeus-like, to throw down lightning bolts and He’s peevish all the time and He’s mad at everyone and all of these cowering human beings have to just throw another shrimp on the barbie and hope that maybe now God will like them. Please, please.

That’s not at all the picture. Leviticus tells us it was God’s gift to us. This whole system. So don’t ever think that the God of the Old Testament somehow is different than the God of the New Testament, or that grace was not operative in the Old Testament and you just worked really hard and obeyed the 10 commandments. No, the whole Mosaic system was shot through with God’s idea of grace by substitution. Even in the Old Testament God’s mercy made a way for the creatures and the Creator to live together.

We must never forget that God’s love is not the consequence of the atonement, but the source of the atonement.

What do I mean by that? Yes, it’s true, in atonement estranged parties are reconciled. We who were at enmity to God are able to be friends. So there is a sense, you could say, in which that atonement accomplishes that reconciliation.

But don’t misunderstand that, to think that God only loved us on the other side of atonement. No. Scripture tells us, Old Testament and New Testament, that the reason He even made this atonement possible is because He loved us. For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son.

Not He gave His Son and therefore it enabled God, who was so ticked off, to then like us. He did have to have His justice assuaged, but it was in love.

Romans 5:8 – God shows His love for us in while we were still sinners Christ died for us.

1 John 4:10 – And this is love, not that we loved God but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

Propitiation. If you don’t know that word, that’s an important biblical and theological term. To be propitious. The easiest way to remember what “propitiation” is is to take the very first part of it, “pro.” Propitiation is how God is “pro” us. How His wrath is assuaged so that He is “pro” us, for us. Propitiation.

So the mystery of the atonement is that God, who has just wrath against sinners, motivated by love, sent His Son to satisfy that very wrath.

The cross is the means by which we are God’s friends instead of His enemies.

But do not think, “Jesus died for me, therefore God loves me.” Think, “God loved me, therefore He sent Jesus to die in my place.”

Why am I belaboring this point? It’s so that you fully grasp the good news of God’s love for you as His people. God does not love you by some divine act of arm twisting. God is not favorable because He just woke up one morning and He felt generous, He had a really good night of God-sleep, and said, “Today’s going to be a good day” and He liked you. God’s not on your side by some fluke or because He’s been busy with a lot of other trouble in the world and He hasn’t really gotten around to seeing what you’re like.

You know that’s wrong, but you feel that sometimes – “Well, if I really come to God and confess my sins, ooohhhh, maybe He doesn’t know what they are. Maybe if I can just kind of keep them.” Or, “If I thank God too much for my blessings, He might realize that I have a few too many of them and send me some Job-like problems.”

No, God knows it all. Saving sinners is God’s idea. That’s why I often belabor the point in 1 John 1 – “If we say are without sin we deceive ourselves, but if we confesses our sins, God is” what? He’s “faithful and just.”

Just. Why just? Shouldn’t it say “He’s faithful and loving, He’s faithful and merciful to forgive us our sins.” No. Why just? God forgives your sins as an act of justice. Not an act whereby God just got up and said “forget about it, I really like you today.” Justice accomplished through a bloody atonement so that all who belong to Jesus know the favor of God. Not just on some divine whim, but according to divine justice. If you belong to Christ, God would be unjust not to love you, forgive you, and shower mercy upon you.

Leviticus 17 is such an amazing chapter because of how it makes so much sense out of the New Testament. We can see that. All of this atonement theology.

But Leviticus 17 is also amazing because of how the New Testament turns some parts of this chapter completely on its head.

Verse 10 – “If any one of the house of Israel or of the strangers who sojourn among them eats any blood, I will set My face against that person who eats blood and will cut him off from among his people.”

Imagine that hammered into your thick skull, year after year, millennia after millennia, all the time. Drain the blood, don’t eat the blood, bring the blood, okay. I’m going to be cut off. No eating blood.

Then you imagine what it must have been like for Peter, James, John, the rest of the disciples with Jesus in the upper room when He took the cup and He said, “Drink, all of you, for this is the blood of the covenant. Drink you all of it for the remission of sins.”

Wait a second, Jesus. Our whole history as a people, drain the blood, stay away from the blood, don’t eat the blood, bring the blood. No blood.

Then Jesus says, “If you want to be clean, here’s what it looks like from here on out. You need to take this cup, pour it out with My blood.” Now not literally, we’re not literally cannibals, we don’t believe in transubstantiation, but as a symbol, as a picture of God’s presence with us, He says, “You must drink this blood.”

Imagine their shock when He told them, and the crowds in John 6, “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you.”

Some of you have had in your head one thought throughout this sermon – “I wanted to have my burgers rare this afternoon. Is that possible?” Yes, it’s possible, because the New Testament Jesus fulfills and transposes and turns on its head all that the Old Testament had taught us about blood.

Now it’s not completely out the window. Think about this. We still must handle the blood of the covenant with reverence. What is happening with Paul’s warning in 1 Corinthians 11? When he says there about the Lord’s Supper, “Some of you are not discerning the body and you’re rushing up and you’re eating and drinking the Lord’s Supper in an unworthy manner. That’s why some of you are sick and some of you have died.” That’s in essence Leviticus 17 transposed to a New Testament key. You are not handling the blood with reverence, therefore some of you have been cut off. Some of you have been killed.

Hebrews 10:29 warns against those who have somehow been enlightened, or have some external connection to the things of Christ, and yet is says they trample upon the blood of the covenant. That is, they consider the Lord Jesus to be common, to be ordinary, to be something profane, and therefore they are cut off.

So the New Testament still warns us, but the blood that we must handle with reverence and awe is not the blood sprinkled of bulls and goats and sheep and heifers, but the blood of the Son of God.

Think about this as we close. The scandal of Christianity, at least one of them, the scandal has always been that we are a people who drink blood. That does sound strange. You can understand why some in the early Roman Empire misunderstood and they charged the Christians with cannibalism. What do they do? They get together, these Christians, and they eat and drink the body and blood of their God? Then there was some story that it was a baby, because this God came as a baby and that maybe they sacrificed a baby and they chopped up a baby and baked into the bread. All sorts of rumors were started because these Christians came together to drink blood.

The scandal of Christianity has always been this cup of blood. Because in this symbolism of this cup of blood is divine justice. It means someone had to die for sinners. There is no way around it. There’s no way to make sense of the Old Testament, no way to make sense of Leviticus, no way to make sense of Jesus or the cross, except this scandal, that someone has to die for sinners.

So it’s the scandal of divine justice. It’s the scandal of our own sinfulness.

Unless you eat this bread, unless you drink this cup, Jesus says. Now there’s He’s not talking literally that you must have communion, but He’s talking about the spiritual reality of it. You do not have eternal life.

Well, that means that this necessary atonement is not just generally that someone must die for sinners, but that someone must die for us. Jesus says, “You, yes, you Jews, also the Gentiles, you church people, you people in your nice Sunday clothes. You, you need a substitute, a sacrifice. You will not live unless you drink of the blood.”

And it is the scandal of God’s mercy, because it means against all human nature, fallen human nature, every part of you that wants to contribute to it, that wants to earn it, that wants to prove yourself, you can’t. You only can receive it, and drink it, as God’s blessing. As Jesus drank the cup of God’s wrath for your sakes, Christians, therefore He gives to us the cup of blessing that we may know in His blood, not to be cut off, not to be banished, not to be exiled, but to made clean and to live forever.

Let’s pray. Father in heaven, we give thanks for the blood that can make the foulest clean, for this fountain filled with blood, drawn from Emmanuel’s veins, for sinners like us, plunged beneath the flood, that we might lose all our guilty stains, for this good news we thank You and we rejoice and we sing. In Jesus’ name. Amen.