If you grew up Christian like me you’ve probably heard a fair few sermons on the importance of the blood of Jesus.
You probably know all too well that God needs blood to forgive.
But praise God that God Himself in the person of Jesus came to shed that blood. To pay the price!
We have been coated in the blood of Jesus!
Amen! Hallelujah! Praise the Lord!
Or so I used to think.
(I feel sick at the thought today looking back. But I don’t know if I could be who I am today without taking that path and God is OK with us not having all our beliefs about Him perfect so I’ll put that to the side and move on.)
You see, I’ve come to see a different perspective on the cross in recent years. Not a new one. No this view has been around long before there was a cross.
A view that doesn’t relish in blood and sacrifice. A view that believes God might possibly be big enough to forgive without killing or covering things in blood.
My prayer is that you might also in time come to see this view as well…
Jesus is not a blood sacrifice
In Jesus we see the end of the concept of blood sacrifices that please God. We find out that God has NEVER been pleased with blood sacrifices.
God desires not death but life.
The sacrifice God desires from us is that we die to self, let go of our ego, and instead submit ourselves to God’s desires.
As Paul said – “It’s no longer I who live but Christ in me”
Or Jesus modelled – “Not My will but yours Father”
Look at the context of Romans 12:
“…offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship…Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
We must let go of the idea of shedding blood to earn forgiveness.
We might quote Hebrews 9:22 but the truth is we only quote part of it.
It doesn’t say “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.”
It says, “In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed by blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.”
This isn’t just in the New Testament
What’s amazing about this is it’s not just a New Testament idea. It’s finalised and forged in the NT through the work of the cross and the teaching of the apostles. But it’s also all throughout the OT!
(take time to read these – I know we all like to skim the Bible bits in blogs but trust me – this stuff will shock you)
Psalm 51:16-17 says, “For You do not delight in sacrifice, otherwise I would give it; you are not pleased with burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.”
Jeremiah 7:21-23 says, “Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, “…For I did not speak to your fathers, or command them in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt offerings and sacrifices. But this is what I commanded them, saying, ‘Obey My voice, and I will be your God, and you will be My people; and you will walk in all the way which I command you, that it may be well with you.’”
(Jeremiah 7 is the passage that Jesus quotes as He is clearing out the temple. This is a very important point that we often miss in our sacrificial loving system. So much so we twist His prophetic act to be the ultimate proof that even Jesus is violent!)
Amos 5:21-24 “I hate, I reject your festivals, nor do I delight in your solemn assemblies. Even though you offer up to Me burnt offerings and your grain offerings, I will not accept them; And I will not even look at the peace offerings of your fatlings… But let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.”
Micah 6:6-8 says, “With what shall I come to the Lord and bow myself before the God on high? Shall I come to Him with burnt offerings, with yearling calves? Does the Lord take delight in thousands of rams, in ten thousand rivers of oil? Shall I present my firstborn for my rebellious acts, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”
How did we miss it?
I don’t know. Israel (aside from the odd prophet it would seem) missed it for centuries as well. Jesus’s disciples missed it too until He came back from the dead and explained it to them. And much of the Church has missed it too!
We still today twist the Bible to promote sacrifice as God’s only way of forgiveness. Jesus is not seen as He ought to be, as the ultimate statement that God is against sacrifice. Instead, we teach Jesus as though He is the ultimate sacrifice!
Christians are supposed to be condemning the notion that God can’t forgive freely. We are supposed to be the voice that condemns false gods who need blood to forgive.
Instead however we have become one of the strongest voices of a god obsessed with blood. Whose hands are tied and who must see blood shed for Him to possibly consider forgiving a trespass.
I raise my hands to say I have been just as guilty of promoting this false gospel myself. Of telling the world about this false god. Of telling the world that their way is correct and that our God simply has the best method of fixing things with bloodshed.
This god is an idol.
An idol built on our own desire for punishment, violence, power, control, and a warped sense of justice that is punitive not restorative.
I refuse to embrace the notion that God needs bloodshed and violence to forgive. If we are called by God to forgive those who wrong us without bloodshed and violence how on Earth do we think that God can’t!
Is God subject to some higher god who makes the rules?
Is there someone dictating how God gets to forgive and just how much mercy He has?
Of course not!
So lets stop boxing God in with such anti-Christ notions!
Let’s let God be a God who looks like Jesus.
Because let’s face it, whether we do or not…
God looks like Jesus, because Jesus is God.