In the Communion Service we focus on the blood of Christ. Our salvation was achieved through the shedding of his blood and there is an emphasis in Scripture on redemption being achieved through blood sacrifice. 203 out of 362 occurrences of the word “blood” in the Old Testament refer to violent death, as our word “bloodshed” does. We are saved through the violent death of Christ. There are various effects of Christ’s blood – violent death – which can be described as:
1. The blood of the covenant
When he instituted Communion, Jesus said: This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” (Matt 26:28).
In fact, “…. even the first covenant was not put into effect without blood. When Moses had proclaimed every commandment of the law to all the people, he took the blood of calves, together with water, scarlet wool and branches of hyssop, and sprinkled the scroll and all the people. He said, “This is the blood of the covenant, which God has commanded you to keep.”In the same way, he sprinkled with the blood both the tabernacle and everything used in its ceremonies” (Heb 9:16-21).
The writer to the Hebrews said: “You have come to God, the judge of all men, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel” (Heb 12: 23-24) …. “May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen” (Heb 13:20-21).
Then he gives a solemn warning: “Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace?” (Heb 10:28-29)
2. The blood of forgiveness
Jesus said: “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” (Matt 26:28).
The covenant is a solemn, binding divine agreement to forgive unworthy sinners because of the blood of Christ.
3. The blood of redemption
Paul refers to “…. the church of God, which he bought with his own blood” (Acts 20:28). Later he wrote: “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.” (Eph 1:7).
The writer to the Hebrews wrote: “He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption” (Heb 9:12).
Peter writes: “For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.” (1 Peter 1:18-19).
John had a vision of heaven where “they sang a new song: “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation” (Rev 5:9).
We are “purchased” for God, ransomed from spiritual slavery through the blood of Christ.
4. The blood of justification
Paul rejoices that “Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him!” (Rom 5:9).
In his vision of heaven, John “heard a loud voice in heaven say: “Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down. They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.” (Rev 12:10-11).
Satan accuses us to God (cf. Job 1:9-11) but God has regard for the blood of Christ which alone is the ground of our being accepted, justified before God despite our guilt.
5. The blood of reconciliation
Paul writes “God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished” (Rom 3:25).
He encourages the Gentiles by saying “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ.” (Eph 2:13).
He adds “For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. ….. Now I rejoice in what was suffered for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church.” (Col 1:19-20, 24).
Consequently the writer to the Hebrews says: “Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus…” (Heb 10:19).
Once alienated from God, excluded from full access to him, now, through the blood of Christ we are reconciled, we are “at one” with him by the atonement (at-one-ment) of Christ’s blood. So we can approach God confidently because of the blood of Christ.
6. The blood of cleansing
The writer to the Hebrews points out: “The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially 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!” (Heb 9:13-14) ….. “Jesus also suffered outside the city gate to make the people holy through his own blood.” (Heb 13:12).
Believers “have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling by his blood ….” (1 Peter 1:2).
“If we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.” (1 John 1:7).
John writes that Christ “has freed us from our sins by his blood.” (Rev 1:5).
There is no sin that Christ’s blood cannot cleanse or from which it cannot set us free.
7. The blood of protection
On the night of the Passover when Israel was about to leave slavery in Egypt, they were told to daub the blood of the passover lamb on their door lintels to protect themselves from divine judgement being meted out on the Egyptians. “By faith [Moses] kept the Passover and the sprinkling of blood, so that the destroyer of the firstborn would not touch the firstborn of Israel.” (Heb 11:28 cf. Ex 12:13).
We are protected from Satan’s power by the blood of Christ.
The New Testament speaks of drinking the blood of Christ. To some people this is rather repulsive and, in a way, it is intended to be. Our salvation was achieved through the crucifixion of God’s son which was not only repulsive but horrifically cruel and profoundly unjust. The metaphor of drinking his blood speaks of an intimate relationship with the sacrifice of Christ and with Jesus himself. It is this faith which is the means by which we receive the benefits of his death.
Jesus said: Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. John 6:56
To drink Christ’s blood is no mere symbolic action.* It is a high and holy privilege. So Paul warns in 1 Cor 11:27 Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord.
*Some Christians believe that the bread and wine in Communion become the actual body and blood of Christ. However many of us do not think that but rather that when we take the bread and wine in faith we spiritually, not physically, feed on Christ. Either way it is a holy privilege.
Scriptures taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version® NIV®. Copyright© 1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica, Inc.™ . Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
© Tony Higton: see conditions for reproduction