Life in the Blood
I gave blood for the first time on Monday. it’s a simple and painless process for the donor, yet a matter of life and death for the recipient. A passenger in a road traffic collision, a victim of knife crime or a woman undergoing major surgery may all rely on me and my fellow donors for survival.
The recognition of “life in the blood” goes back to ancient times. This is the reason God gave to the Jews for making sure the blood was drained out of an animal before it was cooked (Lev 17:11-12).
But the concept goes further than this. Charles Price tells how on a visit to a Hindu Temple in India he witnessed a strange ritual. A man brought a goat to the priest, who placed the animal’s neck in a U-shaped wooden block. Taking an axe, the priest chopped off the animal’s head. Then the worshipper placed his own neck on the block, and rose covered in blood. Price’ guide explained that by this action the man confessed his sins which were taken away by the goat.
The writer to the Hebrews explains that God requires a sacrifice because “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins” (Hebrews 9:22). Starting with the Passover in Egypt, the Children of Israel offered daily sacrifices in repentance for their sins. And each year the High Priest laid his hands on the head of the a goat, transferring the people’s sins to the animal, which was then sent into the wilderness to die (Leviticus 16:21). this is the origin of the term Scapegoat.
But Christians have no need of animal sacrifices, for Jesus became both our High Priest (Hebrews 4-8) and our Passover lamb (1 Corinthians 5:7). His blood shed on the cross paid the penalty for our sin once and for all. And his resurrection and ascension demonstrated his power over death and Hell. So whilst some religions still seek salvation through “the blood of bulls and goats,” those who seek forgiveness from sin, new life on earth and a home in Heaven need only turn to Jesus. Because there’s still Life in the Blood.