Hebrews 9: 11-15
In the celebration of the Eucharist we partake in the Blood of Christ in accordance with our Lord's command, "Drink this all of you; this is my blood of the new covenant which is shed for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins". In thinking about this, it is necessary to distinguish between the plural word 'sins', the wrong acts we have committed before god; and the singular word 'sin', as a principle working in us. Cause and effect; it is the principle at work within us that produces the wrong actions. The Apostle Paul makes this distinction in the first eight chapters of his letter to the Romans. The first section deals with our actions, 'sins', and the second section deals with the principle, 'sin'. We need forgiveness for our sins, for what we have done, and we need deliverance from the power of sin, from what we are. I will try to show that the Blood of Christ deals with what we have done, and the Cross of Christ deals with what we are; the completeness of the sacrificial death of our Lord for our redemption.
In the beginning when God created man in His own image, sin found expression in an act of disobedience to God. This is what we have all inherited like a spiritual genetic defect. As the writer of Ecclesiastes says, "There is not a righteous man on earth who does what is right and never sins". When the seed of doubt is planted in the mind and heart, the temptation is to question the Word of God - "Did God say?" If doubt takes roots and becomes established, in due time it will come to full flower, and produce the fruit of unbelief, and acts of unrighteousness - sins. What follows from this is guilt, estrangement from God. Sin provides the tempter, Satan, with his ground of accusation in our hearts. It is 'the accuser' who now says to us, "you have sinned". In God's plan of redemption through our Lord Jesus, He had to do something about these three questions, of sin, and guilt, and Satan's charges against us.
From the Books of the Law, we see that forgiveness of sins was linked with the shedding of the blood, involving the death of an innocent substitute victim. As the writer of the letter to the Hebrew says - "Without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness". Throughout the Old and New Testaments the word 'blood' is used in connection with the idea of atonement, and it is not primarily for us but for God. On the Day of Atonement it was the high priest who went into the Most Holy Place to sprinkle the blood taken from the sin offering and presented it to God as something He had accepted. A transaction between the high priest and God in the Sanctuary, away from the eyes of those who were to benefit from it. Earlier even than this a type of redemption was in the shedding of blood of the Passover lamb in Egypt. The blood was put on the lintel and the door posts, where those feasting inside would not see it. God said - "When I see the blood, I will pass over you". The Blood of Christ wholly satisfies God, and we have to accept His valuation of it as payment for our sins, and as the price for our redemption, the we can be assured that the debt has been paid. God's acceptance of the Blood is ground upon which we may enter His presence. The writer of the letter to the Hebrews puts it like this - "Having therefore...boldness to enter the holy place by the Blood of Jesus....let us draw near". A clear conscience is never based on our attainment; only on the work of the Lord Jesus in the shedding of His Blood. The reading from the letter to the Hebrews - "The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those wo were ceremoniously unclean, sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. How much more then, will the Blood of Christ, who through the eternal spirit offered Himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God". It was the high priest Caiaphas who declared sin to be on the head of the innocent victim, Jesus, and significantly at the time of the celebration of the Passover.
In the Revelation to John, Satan is described a the "accuser of our brothers who accuses them before our God day and night...but....they overcame him by the Blood of the Lamb". The Blood removes the ground for Satan's accusation because it operates by putting God on the side of man against him. It is in the light of God's perfect knowledge of us, all our thoughts and actions, that the precious Blood of Jesus comes to cleanse us from every sin. Satan may accuse us but, "if God is for us, who is against us?" The reason why we so readily accept Satan's accusations is that we are still hoping to have some righteousness of our own, and try to erect our self defense. But if we have a counsel for the prosecution to accuse us day and night, we also have far more counsel for the defense, our Advocate in heaven, Jesus Christ the Righteous, and He is the propitiation for our sins. Christ is our Advocate, but we, the accused, side with the accuser. Our salvation lies in looking away to our Lord Jesus and seeing that the Blood of the Lamb of God has met the whole situation created by our sins, and has answered it. When God comes in judgement He says - "When I see the Blood, I will pass over you". The Blood of Jesus, the Passover Lamb, cleanses us from every sin. Thanks be to God!