References: I Peter 1:18-19; Is. 53
For most of us, in normal situations, any discussion about blood or dealing with blood is not a very pleasant thought. Some people are especially squeamish about blood. We have all seen a little child be convinced that the world was coming to an end because a drop of blood appeared from a scratch. For adults, dealing with blood may involve some health issue, often fairly serious. Or think of battlefield situations which are quite bloody–again, not a pleasant thought.
Yet a fundamental statement of our faith in Christ speaks of “His precious blood.” By the time Christ was scourged and nailed to the cross, we can assume it was a very bloody ordeal. So how can we speak of blood as precious, as something pleasant?
Some people scoff at the notion that God the Judge would require sin’s payment in shed blood. They see it as an act of cruelty–to use a negative phrase which carries a sense of nastiness and revenge, they see God as simply bloodthirsty.
The catechism begins with the conception of having total comfort since we belong to Jesus Christ. Now we face the question, How is it that we can belong to Jesus? How did that happen, and how is it possible that it could happen?
Know this: having a right relationship with God by means of belonging to Jesus doesn’t occur simply because someone decided that it might be a good idea. God does not just say, “I really would like it if you would be good and listen to me–don’t you want that kind of relationship?” and then you just say, “You know what, that is a pretty good idea, so let’s just put our arms around each other and enjoy one another.” There must be a great deal more to the relationship for the comfort to be real. It is meeting those things that leads to the reality of the precious blood of Christ. There can be no relationship without the blood of Christ.
Let us examine more fully what this is really all about. Why was it necessary for Christ to shed his blood, and what did it do for you?
The very causal, just sort of feeling-good-about-each-other type of relationship with God utterly fails to understand the scope of the problem that prevents anyone from coming before God. In fact, it fails to deal with our rebellion against God, and God’s righteousness as a judge who cannot have anything or anyone who is defiled in His presence. Such an approach, a simply “feeling good” about Jesus, shows a disdain for the need for Christ to shed his blood for our sins. It belittles God.
The basic thought behind the question What is my only comfort, is that by ourselves, in our natural unaided situation, not only have we, by means of disobedience, gone away from God, but because of the insult of sin, God has gone away from us. It is quite important to understand that the problem of sin is not just mankind’s turning away from God, but that God has left. He has turned away from the relationship.
We must face this stark truth: there exists a need which must be addressed. We have violated the law of God; we have aligned ourselves with the enemy of God; God hates sin. Literally, the Scripture tells us there is a great big pile of stench between us and God, and this must be taken care of.
There can be no comfort unless the need is addressed.
Redemption from the lifestyle of slavery
Our creed’s statement explains to us that the need is addressed by the precious blood of Jesus. The context is that of a payment made. The words used with this payment are redemption and ransom. Both speak of a concept of a rescue from a difficult situation. Think of it in this manner. If someone is kidnapped, and is therefore in danger, the action taken will bring them out from that situation.
So here is the question: what situation were you and I in which required the blood of Jesus as payment? Peter refers to living a life which is aimless or futile. It is a life without purpose. Unfruitful. Useless.
In Rom. 1:21, the apostle Paul speaks of a lifestyle in which people “became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.” This literally means to live in such a way that our thoughts and actions are in opposition to the Creator and result in death.
Clearly, living apart from Christ means not just existing without something nice, it means living in a condition in which there is a real slavery to a worthless life. There exists an entire lifestyle that the unbeliever is stuck in. It is hopeless; it is without true enjoyment of life; it will lead to an eternal life of darkness. A more complete description is found in Rom. 3.
Blog post content taken from a sermon series delivered by Dr. Maynard Koerner, President and Professor of Ministerial Studies at Heidelberg Theological Seminary.