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There Is Power in the Blood

Daily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
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[T]he life of the body is in its blood. I have given you the blood on the altar to purify you, making you right with the LORD. It is the blood, given in exchange for a life, that makes purification possible.

Leviticus 17:11

The early chapters of Leviticus focus on the various sacrifices that God established for the Israelites. Though some of these were "vegetarian" in nature, the core sacrifices required the shedding of blood. Why? Why was it necessary for an animal to be sacrificed and its blood used in purification? Why blood?

Leviticus 17:11 helps to answer this question. According to the Lord, blood is special because "the life of the body is in the blood." We can easily understand this, because we know that blood is required for an animal to remain alive. Without blood, we die. So the "life=blood" equation is intuitive to us.

The next step in the sacrificial logic of Leviticus reveals that the shedding of blood accomplishes purification (or atonement, as the Hebrew might be translated). One might say that the giving up of life (blood) leads to the giving of life (purification, atonement).

Thus, blood has power in two senses. Literally, it has the power to sustain life. Symbolically, it has the power to effect life-giving restoration of relationship with the living God.

The logic of Leviticus 17:11 helps us to understand the power in the sacrifice of Christ. Because he shed his blood, thus offering his life, he is able to give life to us by reuniting us with God. As we read in Colossians 3:20, "[Through Christ] God reconciled everything to himself. He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of Christ's blood on the cross."

When I think of what the blood of Christ accomplished for us, I can't help but hear an old hymn ringing in my ears. It's one that I associate especially with the amazing gospel music singer Ashley Cleveland. Ashley, who frequently comes to Laity Lodge, sings a moving version of "There Is Power in the Blood" by Lewis E. Jones (1899). I'll close with the first verse and chorus of this rousing hymn:

Would you be free from the burden of sin?
There’s power in the blood, power in the blood;
Would you o’er evil a victory win?
There’s wonderful power in the blood.

There is power, power, wonder working power
In the blood of the Lamb;
There is power, power, wonder working power
In the precious blood of the Lamb.

QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: When you think of the blood of Christ, what thoughts or feelings occur to you? Do you live each day as if you have been truly reconciled to God through Christ? What might help you to appropriate "the power of the blood"?

PRAYER: Gracious God, first of all, I want to thank you for the gift of life, basic life, the animation of bodies. Thank you for the amazing way blood gives life. Thank you for the way my own circulatory system works, such that I almost never even think of it.

Thank you also for the powerful symbol of shed blood in the sacrificial system. I am especially grateful for the way this helps me to understand, however imperfectly, the impact of Christ's own death.

Thank you for the fact that "there is power, power, wonder working power in the blood of the Lamb." How grateful I am that this power has touched me, giving me, not just physical life, but spiritual life, life in fellowship with you. Thank you for the atoning power of the death of Christ, which, by your grace gives me life.

All praise be to you, O God, for the life you give so freely. Amen.

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