Hebrews 9:16-22: The Shedding of Blood

Read: Hebrews 9:16-22

Shedding blood seems like a grotesque and gruesome act. And rightfully so, as the use of blood was used to show the weightiness of whatever it was being applied to, and in this case it was the initiation of covenants. The author of Hebrews quotes from Exodus 24:9, reminding his readers to that the Law of Moses and the Old Covenant was inaugurated by blood. He then goes to argue that the New Covenant, which he spoke if in Hebrews 8 was inaugurated by blood also, namely the blood of Jesus himself.

During Jesus’ last meal with the disciples before he went to the cross, Jesus used common elements during his day – bread and wine – to symbolize his broken body and own blood that inaugurated the New Covenant (Matthew 26:26-28). The early Christians used these symbols and partook of them often to remind themselves of this fact. Paul explains that these elements were not to be taken lightly, because these elements represent the body and blood of Christ that was poured out for the forgiveness of sin (1 Corinthians 11:23-29). Every time Christians take communion, they should examine themselves and think about the price Jesus paid to inaugurate the New Covenant. Forgiveness of sin wasn’t cheap – it wasn’t cheap under the Old Covenant, nor is it cheap in the New Covenant. As Jesus stated and the author of Hebrews stated, his blood was for the forgiveness of sin which is not a light issue.

Lord, you made my forgiveness possible by shedding your blood!

Help me to not make light of it!

John 19:31-42: Jesus: God’s Passover Lamb

Read: John 19:31-42

Crucifixion was a slow and painful death for the one being crucified. He would have to push up with his legs or pull up with his arms to breath. Breaking the legs of the prisoners on the cross would force them to use their arms to pull up while they were dying, thereby tiring the faster, and speeding up the process. The Jews wanted the prisoners to die faster so the bodies would not be left hanging outside Jerusalem while it was Passover. No Jew would defile himself by touching a dead body on the holiday or else he would not be able to celebrate the Passover. Jesus was already dead, so rather than break his legs, they stabbed him in the side. Jesus would certainly be dead as a result. John reckons this to be a fulfillment of the requirements for the Passover lamb that was slain every year for the feast and was eaten (Exodus 12:46). Jesus was elsewhere called the “Lamb of God” that takes away the sins of the world (John 1:29, John 1:36) and the “Lamb” all throughout the book of Revelation.  Peter comments on the matter, saying that Jesus was the Lamb and it was through the blood of the Jesus that men are redeemed (1 Peter 1:18-19). Up to this point, John notes the pseudo trials before Pilate and Caiaphas were Jesus’ guilt is never established. He is crucified not because he is guilty, but because Caiaphas and Pilate had ulterior motives. Jesus’ bones were not broken and he was a certainly without blemish. Through this sort of sacrifice, the law was fulfilled.

John also reckons that in the piercing of Jesus’ side, that Jesus also fulfilled Zechariah 12:10. The passage speaks of a pouring out of the Spirit of God and they will look on the one they have pierced with mourning. This outpouring came in Acts 2 when Peter preached a sermon at Pentecost. Luke records that those who heard Peter’s sermon were “pierced” in their own heart. Certainly, anyone who had just been told that they had just killed one sent from God would have been mourning such a deed because of the conviction that was laid on heavy and thick. One of the roles of the Holy Spirit is to convict people of their sins (John 16:8). The piercing of Jesus was noted here to point to when Jesus would start drawing all men unto himself, much like the fulfillment of Psalm 22 in which the world would turn and worship him.

Joseph of Arimathia asked Pilate for the body of Jesus because he was a follower of Jesus, but in secret. He was afraid of the Jews too. He, alongside Nicodemus prepared the body of Jesus for burial and put Jesus in a tomb in which no one else had laid. The tomb was apparently very close to the location of the crucifixion. This was apparently done in haste so that the body would not be left up and to fulfill the law requiring executions in Deuteronomy 21:33.

The sacrifice of Jesus is nothing to be taken lightly. Jesus gave his life so that others may live eternally. The good news about Jesus is that he did not stay dead and is able to receive worship because of this. Jesus’ resurrection is proof that resurrection is possible and that there is a real hope for those who believe. But even with this hope, one should never forget what it cost Jesus. Jesus gave Christians a vivid reminder of his sacrifice in communion. This symbol was a proclamation of the Lord’s death until he comes (1 Corinthians 11:26). His body was broken and his blood was spilled so that he would fulfill the law and make a way for mankind. Jesus was not the sacrificial lamb of a man that was required year after year, but God’s Lamb more perfect in every way than anything of this world. This one Lamb was the once and final sacrifice for all men (Hebrews 7:27). The appropriate response to this should be conviction because it was one’s own sin that put Jesus on the cross. One should mourn this and be sorrowful because of it, but at the same time, be joyful that God loves them and that in his mercy made a way. This is truly amazing love!

Lord, help me not forget what you did for me!

John 6:59-71

Read: John 6:59-71

Apparently, the statements of Jesus turned a lot of people off because they were still thinking with carnal minds. They wanted bread, so Jesus said they had to eat his flesh and drink his blood, something obviously disgusting. Even this disturbed the disciples. Given this, Jesus asks if they took offense at it and explains that he spoke the words in Spirit, such that the one’s with spiritual ears could understand. Jesus also asks them, what if they saw him ascending to where he was before – by implication, heaven. The problem apparently has to do with the fact that had they seen him in his ascended form, they would have probably have rejected him even more so. Being a man seems to make Jesus more approachable, and using human terms to communicate spiritual truth seems to make spiritual truth more understandable. In any case, there would be those who would not believe and one who would betray Jesus.

Jesus explains the matter that the ones who understand him are the ones who the Father grants. From John 6:46, this is in the context of drawing with a struggle. God is, in a manner of speaking, dragging people to himself, but only a few. At this point, Jesus was not drawing all men to himself, as this would happen after he was lifted up (John 12:32). But even as this point some of the ones be drawn were struggling against him and would not believe, so they left Jesus. When Jesus asks if the Twelve is they wanted to leave, they do not. Peter asks a rhetorical question: “To whom shall we go?” For they knew Jesus had eternal life. Jesus had even chosen the 12 and was drawing them, even though he knew that one was going to betray him.

Jesus is trying to get the attention of people then, and he is still trying to get the attention of every man. Sometimes, the tactics are loving and filled with compassion – such as feeding people. Other times, they seem disgusting or shocking. Whatever tactics God uses to get ones attention, there are going to be some who struggle to understand and some that will not believe. Christians who are delivering the message should not feel discouraged for this. It is God’s job to draw them, not the messengers. The messengers job is to simply be obedient and deliver the message. The messenger can take great joy when one does believe (Luke 15:6-7)!

Lord, many won’t believe, but help me to rejoice when one does believe!