Today: Monday, December 09, 2019

Deep Clean    (6/3/2018 1)

It is not so long since we went through the agonising experience of one of our family, much loved, dying from leukaemia.  He was young and fit, but something went wrong with his blood.

One of the side effects of living through that devastating time, was to be deeply struck by the amazing qualities of blood without which life would not be possible, but which we take so much for granted.  It is absolutely astounding stuff.

Losing blood, and blood invaded by cancer, is life-threatening.  Healthy blood is life-giving.  Ancient people saw it as the essence of life itself - “the life is in the blood”.  They weren’t far wrong.

It’s not surprising therefore that blood features a great deal in the Bible.  It is especially linked with the sacrifices of the Old Testament, and the sacrifice of Jesus himself in the New Testament.

Ancient people struggling to find some way fo find forgiveness and mercy from God, turned to animal sacrifice, and especially the offering of blood, to represent the greatest sacrifice they could make in place of their own lives.

The New Testament story is that Jesus, as God’s own Son, offered himself, to the point of sacrifice and the offering of his own blood - to do more than any animal sacrifice ever could.  The good news is that Jesus gave his life for us, the holy for the unholy.  St John, in one of his letters (1 John 1, verse 7) puts it quite starkly - the blood of Jesus, God’s Son, purifies us from all sin.

What was clear, even in Bible times, was that dealing with sin was a costly exercise, and that washing with water could be no more than a symbol of washing away of wrong.  Blood, on the other hand, involved a sacrifice and touched deeper places than water alone.  Blood was the very stuff of life.

So Jesus’ shed blood became an image of cleansing at the deepest level of the soul.  An old hymn asks - “What can wash away my sin?  and answers, Nothing but the blood of Jesus”.  Jesus’ death was the ultimate offering of God himself to cleanse and forgive.

Strange though it may sound, the message is that blood cleanses more deeply than water can. 

But it goes further.  One of the treatments for leukaemia which we saw happening in our own family’s experience, was regular blood transfusions, but ultimately also a total stem-cell transplant.  Life-blood was given by others to bring life to the sufferer.

Christians very regularly share in the renewal of Jesus’ Last Supper, repeating the actions of the last meal Jesus had with his disciples.  They eat bread and share wine, remembering that he said that the broken bread represented his broken body, and the wine represented his shed blood.  It is like a transfusing moment, when they receive his new life, receive his cleansing and forgiveness, and receive new hope. 

Receiving all that the blood of Jesus represents is life changing.


Lord Jesus, by your blood shed for all, I pray, grant me forgiveness, deep cleansing and new life.

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