fruitage of the spirit's journal

Expressions from the Heart

The Resurrection of Jesus Christ

The Resurrection of Jesus Christ by Julie McAllen

It’s Easter, a time of year when Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Traditional Christianity teaches that Jesus’ original body was resurrected; however, some have argued that Christ’s body evaporated and he was given a different body. Others say he was raised as Spirit. Have you ever wondered what the Bible says?

This article endeavors to address some of those questions raised concerning the nature of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Some point to 1 Peter 3:18-19 as proof that Jesus was raised as a Spirit and not flesh, but this is easily disputed by noting that these verses refer to his visitation to the spirits in prison during the 3 days BEFORE his resurrection. Speculating that angels who once forsook their place in heaven also inhabited bodies on earth, some promote that Jesus could have done the same in his appearance (Jude 6; 2 Pe 2:4). Can the Spirit of Jesus inhabit a different body? Why, yes, we are bodies of flesh inhabited by Christ’s Spirit so in that sense I believe he does. The body of Christ on earth today is comprised of many different members, however, upon his appearance to 500 disciples 3 days after his death, it was Jesus Christ himself and not the church. Concerning that resurrection, it was not prophesied that Christ would be given another body and the historical fact that no one ever found the original body of Christ laying somewhere gives me reason to stand on the belief that Christ’s actual body was raised. We also have the example of Lazarus’ body being raised with no indication that there were two separate bodies.

The Greek word for resurrection is “anastasis” and it means a “standing up again,” or “revival of the dead.” Thus, to qualify as a “resurrection,” there must be a real connection between the body that died and the body that was raised. Jesus did not die as a spirit-creature, so logic follows that he could not have been raised as a spirit-creature. “Reincarnation” is the belief that one is “reborn in another body.” To assert that Jesus “took on different bodies” when he appeared to his followers makes it sound more like a reincarnation than a resurrection.

It is evident within scripture that the people of the time were influenced in a belief of some form of continuation after death.

Now Herod the tetrarch heard of all that was happening; and he was greatly perplexed, because it was said by some that John had risen from the dead, 8 and by some that Elijah had appeared, and by others that one of the prophets of old had risen again. 9 Herod said, “I myself had John beheaded; but who is this man about whom I hear such things?” And he kept trying to see Him. (Luke 9:7-9)

Herod believed it was possible for John the Baptist to come back in the body of Jesus Christ. Others believed that the dead prophet Elijah was inhabiting the body of Jesus. And Jesus was well aware of this because he questioned his disciples on it a few verses later in Luke 9:18-20

And it happened that while He was praying alone, the disciples were with Him, and He questioned them, saying, “Who do the people say that I am?” 19 They answered and said, “John the Baptist, and others say Elijah; but others, that one of the prophets of old has risen again.” 20 And He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” And Peter answered and said, “The Christ of God.”

So Jesus establishes the common belief, but teaches them it is HE who will suffer and HE that will rise.

“The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed and be raised up on the third day.” (Luke 9:22)

Jesus is trying to lay it into their minds that HE will die and HE will rise–meaning in the same body.  When he walked on water in his flesh, the disciples THOUGHT he was a spirit. I wonder, if my husband died and I suddenly saw him, what would my reaction be? Perhaps I’d think I was seeing a spirit and I’d be frightened just like the disciples were. The other reaction would be of disbelief thinking it was not him at all, but someone who looked like him. So Jesus knew they would be too shocked and kept reminding them ahead of time it would be HIM, HIS BODY, HIS FLESH they would see.

 
At John 2:18-22, Jesus answered the Jews who challenged him to show them the sign of his authority. At verse 19, He said, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews misunderstood what he was referring to and thought he spoke of the temple in Jerusalem. Then, at verse 21, John explained that Jesus “was speaking of the temple of his body.”

One might make the argument that Jesus could not even walk in his beaten and torn flesh after 3 days in the tomb and in order to appear to the disciples, God gave him a new body. But why would God evaporate the old body, give to Jesus a new body, but then puncture it with holes in the hands? Why not resurrect the original, nail-scarred body and use that? We have the example of Lazarus as a stinking, rotting corpse after four days in the tomb. Was it a different body he came back in? I believe Jesus resurrected the original Lazarus and somehow took care of the stench. I have no doubt God did the same with the body of Jesus.

See My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself; touch Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” 40 And when He had said this, He showed them His hands and His feet. 41 While they still could not believe it because of their joy and amazement, He said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” 42 They gave Him a piece of a broiled fish; 43 and He took it and ate it before them.

44 Now He said to them, “These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” 45 Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, 46 and He said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day, (Luke 24:39-46)

Now, granted, you could argue that the hands and feet and fish-hungry tummy of the Lord was a new substitute flesh, but number one that would indicate reincarnation and number two where is it written in the law of Moses, the Prophets and Psalms that the Christ would die and rise up in someone else’s body?

I had someone pose this question about it. “If Jesus paid with his perfect human life, why would he take it back?” He was implying that Jesus offered up his flesh and and was accusing him of “Indian giving.” The answer is that the Bible doesn’t teach that a sacrifice of FLESH is the atonement for sin. It is the blood (Heb 9:22) His sacrifice was made, yes, his flesh was given, but it was the pouring out of his blood that sealed the covenant and atoned for our sins. He didn’t take that back.

My previous religion had taught me that Jesus’ body evaporated. But which one of those leaders were witnesses to the fact? Which testimony do I accept? Those of men 2,000 years after it happened or those who were there?

Jesus said, My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, (John 17:20)

Seems the message of the disciples for whom Jesus prayed differs from the message of my former religion concerning the bodily resurrection. I choose to believe the message of the first century eye witnesses rather than some latter day speculations.

When I read the New Testament, it’s the resurrection of Jesus the first century disciples proclaimed and were consequently persecuted for believing in. They actually believed the man Jesus had died, was buried and on the third day was raised in the same body because it did not see decay. This is the testimony of those closest to the event.

So, regarding the issue of whether the body of Jesus evaporated and thereby was given a different body to present himself to the disciples, I have to ask why? If the original body would NEVER decay….where is it? The testimony of Peter and Paul is that the body of Jesus never disappeared; it was raised to life and shown to many eye witnesses.

Paul was speaking to the “men of Israel” and some Gentiles gathered in Acts 13. He reminds them all of the history of God’s people. He uses this to establish that Jesus whom they crucified is the promised Messiah written about in their scrolls. Notice what he brings up …

As for the fact that He raised Him up from the dead, no longer to return to decay, He has spoken in this way: ‘I WILL GIVE YOU THE HOLY and SURE blessings OF DAVID.’ 35 Therefore He also says in another Psalm, ‘YOU WILL NOT ALLOW YOUR HOLY ONE TO UNDERGO DECAY.’ (Acts 13:34-35)

Paul is clearly saying Jesus was raised from the dead and he adds “no longer to return to decay.” What else could this mean but his body? And what could “never decay” mean but that his body would never rot? If there is any doubt we’re talking about his flesh, Paul goes on to compare it with the man David….

For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, fell asleep, and was laid among his fathers and underwent decay; 37 but He whom God raised did not undergo decay. (Acts 13:36-37)

It’s easy for us to accept that David died, was buried, and his body rotted away. It’s not easy to accept that Jesus died, was buried, raised from the dead and his body did not rot. But that is what is being proclaimed by Paul and others closest to the event.

In fact, Peter said the same thing and I trust his words over any religious leader today who was not there. Peter was there!

“Brethren, I may confidently say to you regarding the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. 30 And so, because he was a prophet and knew that GOD HAD SWORN TO HIM WITH AN OATH TO SEAT one OF HIS DESCENDANTS ON HIS THRONE, 31 he looked ahead and spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that HE WAS NEITHER ABANDONED TO HADES, NOR DID His flesh SUFFER DECAY. 32 This Jesus God raised up again, to which we are all witnesses. (Acts 2:29-32)

Both Peter and Paul validate the physical resurrection of Jesus’ body. His body did not decay or evaporate. It was raised to life and as Peter put it among his generation, “we are all witnesses” to the fact.

Adding to that, when John was given a vision of the risen Lord in heaven, he saw Jesus’ body still scarred. Yes, his body still had the wounds.

6 And I saw between the throne (with the four living creatures) and the elders a Lamb standing, as if slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God, sent out into all the earth. (Rev. 5:6)

What does this mean for us?

But someone will say, “How are the dead raised? And with what kind of body do they come?” 36 You fool! That which you sow does not come to life unless it dies; 37 and that which you sow, you do not sow the body which is to be, but a bare grain, perhaps of wheat or of something else. 38 But God gives it a body just as He wished, and to each of the seeds a body of its own. 39 All flesh is not the same flesh, but there is one flesh of men, and another flesh of beasts, and another flesh of birds, and another of fish. 40 There are also heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is one, and the glory of the earthly is another. 41 There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory.

42 So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown a perishable body, it is raised an imperishable body; 43 it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; 44 it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. (1 Cor 15:35-44)

No doubt there are heavenly bodies and earthly bodies having different splendor. I believe I have strictly an earthly body at present. This body is perishable. It is a seed that will be planted and grow a new body from its original material. Notice that Paul says when IT is raised” imperishable (v.42). It sounds to me like “same body raised, made different.” The new body that comes forth from the same body is now “heavenly.” I believe Jesus was clothed with his heavenly body, one which could walk through locked doors and eat fish. His same (perishable) body was raised imperishable. “it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.”

Remember what the disciples said upon seeing the empty tomb. One account says,
He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said. Come, see the place where He was lying. (Matt 28:6)

He has risen, just as he said. What did Jesus say? Did Jesus say “I will evaporate but the Father will produce a different body?”

What did Jesus SAY???
“Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.” (John 2:19)

It sounds like he’s talking about the SAME body being raised. He is risen, just as he said.

So what’s interesting about that is what it also says of the resurrection of people.

No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day. (John 6:44)

Do we have any reason to assert that our resurrection would be like that of Jesus?

By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also. 15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? (1 Cor 6:14-15)

because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you in his presence. (2 Cor 4:14)

Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. (1 John 3:2)

Christ was raised a perfect spiritual body, and the hope of every follower of Christ is the same. We currently dwell in our perishable bodies, but will be clothed with our perfect spirit bodies.

Jesus Christ entered heaven in his resurrected spirit body as the perfect man in heaven.

For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus (1 Tim 2:5)

John understood the spiritual dimension of his being a new creation by saying “We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love abides in death.” (1 John 3:14) However, he also understood there was more to it which is why he began with “Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is.” (1 John 3:2)

John wrote his letters to correct a falsehood that had crept into the congregation. Among other things, I believe the notion of a strictly “spiritual resurrection” had crept in causing some to think there was no further physical resurrection. So John agrees that yes, they had crossed over from death to life meaning their HOPE was secure, but this was not to be confused with the promises backed by Paul’s address to the Corinthians.

Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. 2 By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.

3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. 6 After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, 8 and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born. (1 Cor 15:1-8)

Paul first sums up the gospel (which concerns the PHYSICAL resurrection of Jesus) before he goes on to correct their thinking also. Notice how he establishes the resurrection of Christ in 1 Cor 15:1-8 saying it was by this witness they were already saved. This church had received his witness of the resurrected Christ. This laid the groundwork for Paul’s correction toward them beginning with these words, “Now if Christ is preached, that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?” (1 Cor 15:12)

Caution should be taken when anyone denies the resurrection of Jesus Christ in the flesh. Though the New Testament is filled with spiritual language, attributing spiritual fulfillments to prophesy is in no way discrediting the physical resurrection of Jesus Christ or the hope of our own new bodies given upon our individual deaths. Both Paul and John knew they had crossed over from death to life but they also addressed the future hope of their own resurrections.

And the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. 12 He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life. 13 These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life. (1 John 5:11-13)

Beloved, we have crossed over from death to life, but like John at the time of his writing this, we await more. As Paul put it, “Just as we have borne the image of the earthy, we will also bear the image of the heavenly.” (1 Cor 15:49) I personally believe these men have been given what they awaited–their spiritual bodies and now live among the angels as “the spirits of the righteous made perfect” (Heb 12:23). Likewise, we can only expect to be made perfect upon the shedding of our perishable, imperfect flesh. However, we are made righteous right here and now by the blood of Christ. His spirit-born church upon earth is righteous, which is why they are mentioned separately in Hebrews 12 as part of the spiritual Mt. Zion. There is “the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven” (made righteous by the blood of Christ) and then there is “the spirits of the righteous made perfect” (perfected upon earthly death). –Hebrews 12:23

But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you. (Ro 8:11)

By the indwelling Spirit of God, we have the witness that we already have eternal life and we have the future hope that our mortal bodies will also be raised from the dead. We have this assurance because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Happy Easter.

Keep yourself in God’s love, Julie

If you are interested in more articles relating to the Easter season, in 2009 I wrote a two part series showing how the lamb of the Jewish Passover became the Christ of our Easter celebration. Those articles can be read here.

https://fruitageofthespirit.wordpress.com/2009/04/05/christ-our-passover-part-one/

https://fruitageofthespirit.wordpress.com/2009/04/09/christ-our-passover-part-two/

In 2010, I exposed how one religious sect interprets the sacrifice Jesus made as only having significance for a limited number of people in another article titled In Remembrance https://fruitageofthespirit.wordpress.com/2010/03/30/in-remembrance/.

 

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March 26, 2012 Posted by | According to Scripture, Expressions | , , , , , , , | Comments Off on The Resurrection of Jesus Christ

Christ, our passover–part two

Christ, our passover–part two by Julie McAllen

For Christ, our passover lamb, has been sacrificed. (1 Cor 5:7)

Picture that night in Egypt as the Israelites huddled inside their houses hearing the wails outside of those witnessing the death of each firstborn in the land. They were saved by the blood of the passover lamb painted on their door frames earlier that evening. When they left Egypt, liberated from bondage and on the frontier of new life, they owed it to that blood. Saved by the blood of the lamb!

As Christians, we too claim to be saved by the blood of the lamb. Jesus Christ, our Passover Lamb. I am deeply moved by that title given to Jesus. A constant prayer of mine is to understand more fully the meaning of his blood shed for me. I’ve learned that just as those redeemed Israelites leaving Egypt were later given instructions on the meaning of blood in Leviticus, I also was delivered by the blood while waiting for further understanding. What do I know about the blood of this passover lamb?

To begin, I would like to say I can sympathize with the doubting Jews of Jesus’ day. In John 6, Jesus loses a large amount of followers due to his proclamation that they should drink his blood. If I had been a Jew at the time, this would have confused me as well. Jehovah God had laws against eating blood. It was understood by this time that blood was sacred to God, so what was this Jesus talking about? Was he asking them to break God’s law and eat blood?

 53Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. 55For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. 56Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. 57Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. 58This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your forefathers ate manna and died, but he who feeds on this bread will live forever.” 59He said this while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum. (John  6:53-59)

Those who continued to follow Christ after this hard-to-understand teaching were blessed to be part of the first communion meal, the passover, which we have come to call the last supper. But unlike their forefathers saved by the passover blood, the disciples were given instruction that very night as to the meaning of this new tradition involving blood. The gospels tell us those gathered at the table were told Jesus’ blood would be poured out for forgiveness of sins, to confer upon them a kingdom, to give them thrones on which to judge, and to mediate a new covenant (Matt 26:28; Luke 22:20, 29-30). But like most of what Jesus taught them, it was not fully understood until later when Holy Spirit led them into His truth.

The writer of the book of Hebrews understood. By God’s Spirit, he connected the Old Testament with the New covenant.

Poured out for forgiveness of sins and fellowship with God

 16In the case of a will, it is necessary to prove the death of the one who made it, 17because a will is in force only when somebody has died; it never takes effect while the one who made it is living. 18This is why even the first covenant was not put into effect without blood. 19When 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. 20He said, “This is the blood of the covenant, which God has commanded you to keep.” 21In the same way, he sprinkled with the blood both the tabernacle and everything used in its ceremonies. 22In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. (Hebrews 9:16-22)

Most of us are quite familiar with the understanding that without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. We readily claim the blood of Jesus upon us!  This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins (Matt 26:28)

19Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, 21and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. 23Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. (Hebrews 10:19-23)

Have you ever considered that? As you claim the forgiving blood of Christ, you enter the Most Holy Place, a place once reserved only for Levitical priests. Forgiven through this blood, we can have confidence to draw near to God, in fact to sit right next to Him! This without the intercession of anyone else in religious duty. The blood of Jesus alone qualifies us for this audience with God.

A Holy Priesthood

 23Now there have been many of those priests, since death prevented them from continuing in office; 24but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. 25Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them. 26Such a high priest meets our need—one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens. 27Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself. (Heb 7:23-27)

Do you recall all that blood being sprinkled by the Levitical priests for purification? God saw to it that we would have a priest forever interceding for us. A High Priest whose blood is able to purify us from all sin (1 John 1:7), because as a holy and blameless one, he could offer himself.

18For 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, 19but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.(1 Pe 1:18, 19)

Each and every member of the church was bought with this precious blood of Jesus, the slain lamb, who is pictured standing in the center of the throne where he is worshiped. Yes, the very blood of God purchased us (Acts 20:28).

 6Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing in the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. He had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. 7He came and took the scroll from the right hand of him who sat on the throne. 8And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. 9And 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.
10You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God,
and they will reign on the earth.”
(Rev 5:6-10)

If you have claimed the blood for your salvation, have you claimed it also as your vocation to be a king and priest to serve God?

 9But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. (1 Pe 2:9, 10)

We have been bought with the blood and our cry is “you are worthy!” But did you notice that is also his cry back to us? He calls us royal, holy, and a people belonging to God. He considers us worthy now. Do you claim the blood when under attack and feeling less than worthy? We belong to God! Who can possibly condemn us? We have entrance to the Most Holy Place because we are washed in the blood of the lamb. Forgiven and purified, we have been given the honor of standing as priests before His Throne of Grace on behalf of those who have not yet claimed the blood of Christ for themselves. Do you bring them before Him in prayer honoring that priesthood given by the lifeblood of God? And I confer on you a kingdom, just as my Father conferred one on me (Luke 22:29)

As the disciples ate their last Passover meal with Jesus before he was betrayed into the hands of sinners, they drank from the cup representing his blood and were told they would receive forgiveness of sins and a kingdom.  When Jesus was taken from them that night to be crucified, they did not understand the wisdom of God told through the old covenant. Holy Spirit would take care of that later. For in God’s wisdom, those who shed the blood of Jesus thought they could silence his message, but it was His plan all along to speak even louder through the redeeming blood of Christ!  As the enemies of Christ nailed him to the cross, forgiveness and a kingdom were poured out on us through his blood. The blood of Christ is a profound message of wisdom that was cleverly kept hidden until the Spirit revealed the Divine Mystery of which we now partake. Praise God for Good Friday!

 7No, we speak of God’s secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. 8None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 9However, as it is written:
“No eye has seen,
no ear has heard,
no mind has conceived
what God has prepared for those who love him”— 10but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit.

(1 Cor 2:7-10)

As you celebrate this Easter season, claim the blood of Christ, our passover lamb!

Keep yourself in God’s love, Julie

April 9, 2009 Posted by | According to Scripture, Expressions | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Christ, our passover–part one

Christ, our passover–part one by Julie McAllen

For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed (1 Cor 5:7)

It is Holy Week. Christians world wide are preparing their hearts to reflect on the last week of the life of a man whose story has caused more discussion, debate, discord, division, delight and desire than any other in history. Though the events happened 2000 years ago, we each fall into the same categories of response as the people of his day. Some thought he was a blasphemer to the Holy God of Israel, others thought he was the fulfillment of what the Jewish nation had been seeking, and some thought he was just plain nuts. Who is this man Jesus Christ? Was he just flesh and blood or was he something more?

Jesus Christ was fully man. Christians and non-Christians alike believe this. The difference is that one group claims their sins were forgiven through the shed blood of Jesus. We claim there is power in the blood and commemorate this with communion wine poured out for forgiveness of sins and the mediation of a new covenant.

When I had my first communion as a believing Christian, it was out of obedience to something I prayed often about for further understanding. I found help in going back to the Old Testament to see how the Jews were taught to view blood. By studying this, I have a greater appreciation for the blood shed for me.

I’d like to break this up into two parts beginning with the Old Testament laws on blood and finishing with the fulfillment in Christ our passover in part two.

Earliest recorded sacrifice of blood

After the sin of Adam and Eve: In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the LORD. But Abel brought fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The LORD looked with favor on Abel and his offering, (Gen 4:3, 4)

It’s been debated as to what God was pleased with, the physical sacrifice presented by Abel or his attitude at the altar, but I believe it was both. Abel, by his pure faith presented to God a physical sacrifice worthy of God’s approval. That sacrifice was one of blood, the firstborn of his flock.

By faith Abel offered God a better sacrifice than Cain did. By faith he was commended as a righteous man, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith he still speaks, even though he is dead. (Hebrews 11:4)

How might Abel have known this before the laws on blood were given?

Blood is Sacred, it represents God’s justice

By Noah’s day, God spoke His laws concerning blood.

“But you must not eat meat that has its lifeblood still in it. And for your lifeblood I will surely demand an accounting. I will demand an accounting from every animal. And from each man, too, I will demand an accounting for the life of his fellow man. “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made man. (Gen 9:4-6)

In a culture where hunting is life to it’s people, they become keenly aware of the connection between their own survival through the death of a slain animal. Yet, here God allows the eating of meat but not the blood itself. How sacred life and blood are to God! It represents the very life of a person and if blood is shed, the perfect price to be made is equal blood. God is holy and in his perfect equality and justice, He set forth His ideal payment as eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot (Exodus 21:24)

Blood saves

By Moses day, God was revealing a deeper connection through blood using Moses as a mediator.

Remember, God had promised a seed to bless all nations through Abraham. The promise continued through Isaac and Jacob. Jacob’s son Joseph was sold into Egypt where later the Israelites became many and were enslaved. Moses was called to liberate the people and proclaimed the 10 plagues against the hard-hearted Pharaoh to let the people go. The last of the 10 plagues was death to the firstborn of Egypt. Moses instructed the Israelites to put the blood of a lamb on their door frames so that the angel of death would pass over their houses (Please read Exodus 11-12).

Take a bunch of hyssop, dip it into the blood in the basin and put some of the blood on the top and on both sides of the doorframe. Not one of you shall go out the door of his house until morning. (Exodus 12:22)

What would you think if a terrible plague were running rapant in your neighborhood with death all around and someone said, “here, paint some blood on the door of your house.” I wonder what they were thinking as they obeyed? Why blood? Why did God ask for blood as their protection from death? How does the God of Israel view blood?

Blood seals a covenant

Moses then wrote down everything the LORD had said. He got up early the next morning and built an altar at the foot of the mountain and set up twelve stone pillars representing the twelve tribes of Israel. Then he sent young Israelite men, and they offered burnt offerings and sacrificed young bulls as fellowship offerings to the LORD. Moses took half of the blood and put it in bowls, and the other half he sprinkled on the altar. Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read it to the people. They responded, “We will do everything the LORD has said; we will obey.” Moses then took the blood, sprinkled it on the people and said, “This is the blood of the covenant that the LORD has made with you in accordance with all these words.” (Exodus 24:4-8)

As the priesthood formed, Jehovah revealed more qualities of the blood sacrifices.The book of Leviticus contains instruction on how the priests conducted worship at the tabernacle on behalf of the people. Leviticus chapters 1-7 even gives instructions on selecting the most perfect of animals for these offerings. The emphasis throughout is on God’s holiness.

I am the LORD your God; consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am holy. Do not make yourselves unclean by any creature that moves about on the ground. (Lev 11:44)

Why is God concerned with the Israelites holiness? How does this connect to the promise given to Abraham of a seed to bless all nations?

Blood purifies

4 the priest shall order that two live clean birds and some cedar wood, scarlet yarn and hyssop be brought for the one to be cleansed.

6 He is then to take the live bird and dip it, together with the cedar wood, the scarlet yarn and the hyssop, into the blood of the bird that was killed over the fresh water.

51 Then he is to take the cedar wood, the hyssop, the scarlet yarn and the live bird, dip them into the blood of the dead bird and the fresh water, and sprinkle the house seven times.

52 He shall purify the house with the bird’s blood, the fresh water, the live bird, the cedar wood, the hyssop and the scarlet yarn. (Lev 14:4, 6, 51-52)

Blood atones for sin

14 He is to take some of the bull’s blood and with his finger sprinkle it on the front of the atonement cover; then he shall sprinkle some of it with his finger seven times before the atonement cover. 15 “He shall then slaughter the goat for the sin offering for the people and take its blood behind the curtain and do with it as he did with the bull’s blood: He shall sprinkle it on the atonement cover and in front of it.

21 He is to lay both hands on the head of the live goat and confess over it all the wickedness and rebellion of the Israelites—all their sins—and put them on the goat’s head. He shall send the goat away into the desert in the care of a man appointed for the task. 22 The goat will carry on itself all their sins to a solitary place; and the man shall release it in the desert. (Lev 16:14, 15, 21, 22)

Blood is life and makes atonement

11 For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonementfor one’s life. 12 Therefore I say to the Israelites, “None of you may eat blood, nor may an alien living among you eat blood.”

13 ” ‘Any Israelite or any alien living among you who hunts any animal or bird that may be eaten must drain out the blood and cover it with earth, 14 because the life of every creature is its blood. That is why I have said to the Israelites, “You must not eat the blood of any creature, because the life of every creature is its blood; anyone who eats it must be cut off.” (Lev 17:11-14)

I find it difficult to grasp that sprinkling blood throughout the house can purify it. My modern thinking does not equate messy blood with cleanliness. It’s difficult to understand how a goat could carry the Israelites sins into the desert. I wonder if they thought so too. Do you find it difficult to grasp that blood painted on the doorposts saved those inside from death? Do you find it hard to grasp that your sins are forgiven through the shed blood of Christ? I do. The Israelites obeyed and had proof that the angel of death had passed over their houses and they were saved. Even if it is hard to understand, God has given us ample proof throughout His word that blood is sacred to Him, it seals covenants, purifies, atones for sin, and is life itself. I believe in the saving power of the blood of Christ. Though it is difficult to understand, I claim it as I reflect on his words ” I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). The life is in the blood.

Though it was His divine plan all along to send his son to die, God allowed Satan to think he had defeated the Promised seed by shedding his blood and yet it is this blood of Christ that redeems us. Amazing. As I reflect on the life, death, and resurrection of my Lord and Savior this week, I am peering into the history of God’s view of blood and the lessons given to His people Israel. In part two, we shall see how Jesus himself fulfills all these qualities of sacred blood.

Keep yourself in God’s love, Julie

April 5, 2009 Posted by | According to Scripture, Expressions | , , | Comments Off on Christ, our passover–part one

   

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