What Blood Teaches

I never thought of blood as a teacher, as having a voice. Blood is just stuff, isn’t it? It’s sacred stuff—I know. “The life is in the blood” (Lev. 17), and blood has the mysterious power to redeem, to atone, to cleanse. The blood of Jesus Christ secured for us “an eternal redemption” (Heb. 9:12). Red blood can make a heart turn white. You can’t explain it; you can only put it to poetry.

               Blood beckons to us in the dark,
               And carries movement through our veins.
               The red turns white the hearts God marks,
               Sends souls to heaven dropping chains.

But does blood teach? Does it have a voice? “Only in a metaphorical sense, in a poetic sense.” Well, then God is a poet.

For you have not come to what may be touched, a blazing fire and darkness and gloom and a tempest and the sound of a trumpet and a voice whose words made the hearers beg that no further messages be spoken to them. For they could not endure the order that was given, “If even a beast touches the mountain, it shall be stoned.” Indeed, so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, “I tremble with fear.” But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel. See that you do not refuse him who is speaking. (Heb. 12:18-25)

       Blood speaks. Thank the Maker, our Poet. What does it speak? A better word. But a better word than what? Than the blood of Abel. What did Able’s blood say, exactly?

Then the LORD said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” He said, “I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper?” And the LORD said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to me from the ground. (Gen. 4:9-10)

Abel’s blood cried out from the ground, from the soil. It cried out for justice, for wrong to be righted. That’s why God enters and pronounces judgment. He rights the wrong. He curses Cain.

       But Jesus’s blood speaks a better word than this. As “the mediator of a new covenant,” Jesus’s blood pleads not for justice but for mercy and grace. Justice says, “Level the scales!” Mercy says, “Don’t give me what I deserve.” And grace says, “You’re giving me all of this?” Jesus’s blood says what Abel’s couldn’t. It doesn’t speak retribution; it speaks redemption.

       This, in the end, is what blood teaches—either a grief for hard loss or a promise of new life. Only Jesus’s blood can do the latter.

       But the passage in Hebrews ends with a warning: “See that you do not refuse him who is speaking.” That ancient blood that coursed through the veins of the Son of God—that blood still speaks, through the one who owned it. Jesus was still speaking at the time when the book of Hebrews was written. And he was still speaking in the early church, and in the medieval era, and during the Reformation, and during the Great Awakenings, and during the Civil Rights movement, and during the Cuban Missile Crisis, and during Isis terror, and during our lost and fragmented generation. He is still speaking.

“The blood of Christ still speaks. It asks us to draw nearer, to the owner of the blood.”

       His message is simple and direct. “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matt. 11:28–30). Come to me. That’s it. Isn’t it wonderfully simple?

       The blood of Christ still speaks. It asks us to draw nearer, to the owner of the blood. It asks us, in C. S. Lewis’s words, to come “further up and further in.” That’s what the blood of God’s Son has to teach us. That’s God’s burning white message in crimson red. And it has the power to raise the dead.

Other Resources from the Author

Pierce Taylor Hibbs (MAR, ThM Westminster Theological Seminary) is Senior Writer & Communication Specialist for Westminster Theological Seminary. He is the author of many books and articles. You can learn more about his work at piercetaylorhibbs.com

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