Lord's Day Liturgy

Bloody Serious

Anemia is a deficiency in the oxygen-carrying component of the blood, or even more simply, a deficiency of blood in a living body (The Century Dictionary). The word anemia comes from the compound of two Greek words, an- meaning “without” and haima which means “blood.” Anemia results in loss of color, loss of energy, loss of strength, lightheadedness, shortness of breath, irregular heartbeats. Anemia is on a spectrum; you may be slightly or extremely anemic. It might be that your body is having a hard time producing red blood cells or it might happen that you have a serious incident of loss. Many moms are anemic for a while after the birthing process.

Seven years ago on February 4th I came home from teaching my classes feeling sluggish, but ran six miles on my treadmill anyway and then went to our elders lunch. I wasn’t feeling well—pale and sweaty and drained—and had to bail out to the car to lay down before the guys were finished meeting. Jonathan told Mo that afternoon that he thought something was really wrong because I had ordered the “girl-size” at MOD Pizza. I really thought I had a bad cold. Mo made an appointment for me with my family doctor that evening, and he called an aid car for me to ride to the hospital where I spent the next four days.

It turns out I had an internal bleed and had lost half of my blood.

There was no conclusion on the cause after a variety of tests and -oscopies. I was on the edge of getting a transfusion, but they decided to let me build back red blood cells on my own with iron supplements and such. At first I was so worn out that watching TV took too much energy. That was also the start of problems with my internal temperature system, and one of the reasons there’s a fan built into the pulpit; I’m often hot/cold when I should be the opposite.

How true when the Lord said, “the life of every creature is its blood: its blood is its life” (Leviticus 17:14). I had used anemia as an analogy for spiritual life before, little did I know how bloody serious it is. If you’re sinning, stop the bleed. It will drain the life right out of you.

Lord's Day Liturgy

The Blood of a New Humanity

I grew up in a Baptist church where we didn’t potluck without casseroles or sing without hymnals. As a kid I remember thinking that we sang a lot of hymns about blood, and I was especially confused about the song “Nothing but the blood of Jesus.”

What can wash away my sin?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
What can make me whole again?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

O precious is the flow
that makes me white as snow;
no other fount I know;
nothing but the blood of Jesus.

Red is a primary color, but I had never seen it turn anything white. You have to work to get red wine and red blood out, not on.

Not only is Jesus’ blood precious “like that of a lamb without blemish or spot” (1 Peter 1:19), His blood purifies sinners. It “will purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God” (Hebrews 9:14). “The blood of Jesus…cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7). His blood also purchases salvation; “he entered once for all into the holy places…by means of his own blood, thus securing eternal redemption” (Hebrews 9:12). And His blood whitens stains, as when “a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages…have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb” (Revelation 7:9, 14).

In Adam humanity got started. In Noah humanity got restarted. In Christ, the true second Adam, humanity got remade. His blood is regenerating a new humanity, a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation (1 Peter 2:9). Precious is the flow, the fount of the sin-bleaching, new civilization-building blood of Jesus.

Lord's Day Liturgy

Blood That Speaks

On the night He was betrayed Jesus told His disciples that they were drinking the cup of the covenant. “Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins” (Matthew 26:28). The author of Hebrews described Jesus as “the mediator of a new covenant” with “sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel” (Hebrews 12:24). We still drink and His blood still speaks.

Jesus’ blood speaks the cost of sin. Those who sin deserve death (Romans 6:23). Only a blood sacrifice will suffice to satisfy the just requirements of God. “Not even the first covenant was inaugurated without blood” (Hebrews 9:18) because blood is the price for our rebellion.

His blood speak’s God’s promise and God’s faithfulness. The law could not forgive anyone. God gave the law to show disobedience and He also gave His word to deal with men’s sin. So by “the blood of the eternal covenant” (Hebrews 13:20), a covenant intended to cleanse from uncleanness (Ezekiel 36:25-27), God fulfills His Word.

His blood speaks forgiveness and sanctification. God’s promise was to pay the cost of sin Himself so that we would not have to die. “Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins” (Hebrews 9:22). So “Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood” (Hebrews 13:12). Jesus’ death purchased our justification and purification.

So His blood speaks heavenly life. The Son enables us to come into His Father’s presence, to enjoy heavenly fellowship with the festive angels, heaven’s members, the spirits of the righteous made perfect (Hebrews 12:22-24). That is our hope as well, and it is due to the power in Jesus’ blood.