[Rector]

The blood

 

There is a long-held myth concerning the Aborigines of the Kendall River, Cape York Peninsula. The natives claim to create crocodiles when a youth is initiated as a warrior. During the initiation one of the elders draws blood from the boy's arm and coats a lizard with it. The lizard is then thrown into the river to become a "blood brother" crocodile of the boy. The locals claim that although the Kendall River is full of crocodiles, the children of the tribe seem to be able to swim in the river without being attacked. Although there are monster crocks in the river, none of the members of this tribe ever get taken, or so the story goes.

I have to say I'm not convinced, but then, who knows? Strange things happen in this world. If we accept the teaching of the Christian faith, we end up believing in strange things ourselves. We believe that "Christ's blood saves us." When you think about it, the idea that Christ's blood shed on the cross somehow serves to wash us of our sins, is surely a very strange notion. For many the idea is quite crude. To imagine that God needs some blood sacrifice to get us into his "good-books" does take us to the limits. I have often had to explain the meaning of Christ's death to someone who has never really considered it before, and scepticism is the usual response. What I have come to accept as reasonable is anything but reasonable to those who hear the story for the first time.

There is little doubt that the Bible has much to say on blood sacrifice and how Jesus' death was a sacrifice for sin. Many Christians believe that the good news about Jesus must always mention "the blood." The Australian evangelist, John Chapman, always tried to keep church people away from his home meetings. The last thing he needed was someone challenging him with the question, "What about the blood?" He had no difficulty explaining the good news about eternal life in Jesus without mentioning "the blood." His answer to the question was usually, "What blood, where?"

The Old Testament sacrificial laws, and the language of blood sacrifice that was carried over into the New Testament, simply serves to remind us of our state of loss when it comes to our standing with God. The restoration of that standing is no simple matter. It involves a great cost; a cost powerfully imaged in the cross of Christ. The wonder is that God, in Jesus, pays the cost, and so offers us a restoration of his eternal friendship free of charge. All is ours for the asking.

The shedding of blood illustrates the cost of our eternal friendship with God. The actual cost is beyond our understanding.