“Not Without Blood” – “His Own Blood”
As soon as our first parents had sinned in the Garden of Eden, at its very gates, the LORD God showed the way of reconciliation was not to be in the fig leaves of men’s sin-stained efforts, but in the shedding of blood. This was set forth when a beast, almost certainly a lamb, was taken and slain before the guilty eyes of Adam and Eve, that they might be properly clothed to hide their shame. So, we read of “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (not from before the foundation as is often misquoted) (Revelation 13: 8). He was “foreordained before the foundation of the world” (1st Peter 1:20)
The mercy of God is seen, in that as soon as sin showed its ugly face on the earth, the remedy was set forth, eloquently pointing to “the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” (John 1:29); “The wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23)
The lamb taken and slain belonged to our Creator and was a free gift from Him who was offended, to the offenders, foreshadowing the giving of the dear Son of God as a ransom for many. It is instructive to notice that it would appear from the language, “from the foundation of the world,” that sin entered this earth very soon after our first parents had been created.
From that solemn moment it was revealed that:
“Sin to pardon without blood
Never in God’s nature stood.”
This was soon solemnly verified when Cain rebelliously sought to bring a bloodless offering as a sacrifice and was rejected, whereas Abel was received, coming in the God-appointed way to His holy Majesty, “not without blood.” (Hebrews 9:7)
This principle was emphasised again and again in the Old Testament. Isaac was well taught, we trust of God, when he asked where the lamb was for the burnt offering. The worship in the tabernacle and later in the temple all gave the same message.
On the annual Day of Atonement, Aaron was permitted to enter the holiest of all, but had he dared to do so without blood, he would have been smitten down.
Why was it that God made this oft-repeated command?
When Aaron or the succession of high priests took blood of a blemish-free beast into the holiest of all, it signified that a life had been lived, and then taken. So ceremonially the virtue of the life lived and the blood shed (i.e. the death endured), was taken into God’s glorious presence, in the Shekinah glory, overshadowing the mercy-seat.
But each succeeding high priest had first to make an offering for his own sins, before confessing the sins of the people on whose behalf he was entering the holiest of all. Our Lord Jesus Christ, that great High Priest, had no need to offer for Himself when He entered the holiest of all in glory above as He is “holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners” (Hebrews 7:26). The offering He made was for that innumerable company of sinners, for whom He came to live, to suffer, and to die, rising again and ascending on high, taking His own blood into the holiest of all. Thus, before His heavenly Father is presented a pure, holy life lived, and a complete atonement made.
“There shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth” (Revelation 21:27) is said of heaven itself, God’s immediate dwelling place where God dwells in infinite majesty. So, when Christ was made sin for His people, and bore the curse due to their multiplied sins, He could not enter that sacred place as their Mediator until all their imputed guilt was completely and everlastingly removed. But when He cried, “It is finished” (John 19:30), the last spot and blemish on His bride was removed, and the way into the holiest was made manifest. He entered “not without blood” (Hebrews 9:7), and “by His own blood” (Hebrews 9:12), which neither Aaron nor any of his successors could possibly do. This is the “blood of the covenant,” (Hebrews 10:29), or “the blood of the new testament” (Mark 14:24).
How great was and is the love of Christ for His people! The holy and mysterious agony in the Garden of Gethsemane gives us just a glimpse of what it cost Him to make the full atonement for His people’s sins.
“Deep in His breast engraved He bore;
Our names, with every penal score,
When pressed to earth He prostrate lay;
Shocked at the sum, yet prompt to pay.” (Joseph Hart)
It was impossible for Christ and His bride to be together in glory unless their sins had been utterly and forever put away. This was the measure of His love, that He, “Rather than lose us would shed His heart’s blood.”
The great point to us each should be, have we an interest in this shed blood of Christ? In Psalm 130:3 the godly psalmist asks a question: “If Thou, LORD, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand?” He then answers the question himself in verse 4: “But there is forgiveness with Thee, that Thou mayest be feared.” How is this forgiveness obtained? It is through the Lord Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, being marked for the sins of His people. He has taken those marks, in hands, and feet, and side into the holiest of all, and as He spreads His once-wounded hands before His heavenly Father, so those precious marks answer for the crimes of coming sinners who plead the “blood that did once for sin atone.” A sacred and precious proof of interest in those sacred marks, is to know by sacred experience that the Lord Jesus intercedes for us in heaven above. He intercedes for those for whom He died. “I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which Thou hast given Me.” (John 17:9)
It is all summed up most preciously in Hebrews 7:24-27: “But this Man, because He continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood. Wherefore He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them. For such an High Priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens; who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people’s: for this He did once, when He offered up Himself.”
Thus, He entered “not without blood” (Hebrews 9:7), but unlike the high priests of Old Testament days, He entered into heaven itself with “His own blood.” (Hebrews 9:12)
Gerald D. Buss