Recently, in a discussion with a non-Christian, I had the crusades thrown in my face. He could have been a lot meaner about it, too, but the only comment was, "Christianity's a bloody thing." My smart-aleck response was, "Yes it is; it was founded on the blood of one man." I suppose that's true and all, but I got to thinking about this whole blood thing. Blood is a pretty important thing to humanity. Our life is in our blood. Blood is thicker than water. Yet, we have become a little more divorced from the realities of blood in these comfortable days. Not so in the rest of the world. I have often wondered why ancient man felt compelled to make sacrifices of blood. Blood was used as a source of appeasement and atonement, for Jew and Gentile alike.
Imagine the power sacrifice held in those dark days. As we led the snorting beast up to the altar, quaking for fear of the divine presence, the pungent smells of incense and burning flesh overwhelming our senses accustomed to the drab stink of our filthy living, draped in fear, terror, death, surrounded by a world we could hardly fathom or control, at the mercy of weather, diseases, harvests, wild beasts, and most of all the strength of men, our hopes were placed in the release of power. The powerful heart of the ox or goat pumped its life out forcefully, washing the unhewn stones before us. This blood binds us and the deity it speaks of the reality of mystery. Something unseen was here in this beast, and now it is not. All the visible parts are accounted for, but what has gone that took the life with it?
Even now in these days all things come at the cost of blood. Our nice clothes made in China are earned in blood. The fuel for our vehicles comes at what cost? Our food is soaked in the stuff. Something must die for something else to live. We extract what we need from the blood of the other. It is not only Christianity that is a bloody thing, but all of human life. Nothing has been earned, built, formed by human hands and minds without the shedding of blood, with out the sacrifice of something else. It is an inescapable fact of life. Even the way we are given to experience time; one moment dies and gives way to the next. Jesus', our God's, answer to this cycle of blood and death is unique int he history of humanity.
He saw something that needed to be done. To do it he did not take the blood of those unwilling, building yet another scaffolding of death. Instead, he erected the cross of life. When the world cried out for blood, Jesus did not take it, He offered it. Can we fathom the truth in the statement that His ways are not our ways? How much has this been proven? In everything He did, one can see an answer to our dysfunction, a completely different way of going about things. When we come to Him our hands dyed in crimson, every ounce of our flesh crying bloody murder at the crimes of which we are guilty, He takes all of us, deserving of death, Him the only one who is not, and He dies for us. I once read a note someone had jotted on a scrap of paper that said, "Grace is not fair." How beautifully true. It is unfair that we be forgiven, but we are. Thank God with all thankfulness.
Gordon Fee's story ... and others, too
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