We sing this wonderful old hymn, but have we ever really thought about its meaning? Have we ever really thought about the power of blood? Our blood? Human blood?
It is said in the Bible that the blood is the life of every creature.
“For the life of every creature is its blood: its blood is its life. Therefore I have said to the people of Israel, You shall not eat the blood of any creature, for the life of every creature is its blood. Whoever eats it shall be cut off. (Leviticus 17:14).
We understand that whenever the blood is drained from our bodies we die. We understand that giving a transfusion of blood can save the life of an individual – give them life, so to speak. People are urged to “Give the gift of life – give blood.”
Look a little deeper into the marvel of blood and you find many other wonders in this powerful fluid. Blood gives life by supplying all parts of the body with oxygen, picking it up in the lungs and circulating it through every system, every organ to every cell of the body. Before it returns to the lungs for another load of oxygen it picks up wastes, toxins and carbon dioxide, a product of the metabolic process, carries them to the liver and kidneys and finally to the lungs to be cleansed of these impurities. Blood carries nourishment to every cell in our bodies.
Blood also carries white cells which act as soldiers in the fight against infection, antibodies to immunize the body against disease, platelets to prevent bleeding through the clotting mechanism. The clotting mechanism is a biochemical wonder in itself – one that cannot be explained by the evolutionary model. There is a lengthy, precise sequence of reactions that occur when we get a cut and then reverses to stop the clotting. How does the body know when to turn the clotting process on and off? If it turned on without having been injured, or if the clotting process continued beyond the performance of its function we would die from the clotting. Indeed, blood is a wonderful, powerful thing – a marvel of the Creator’s genius.
But, as wonderful and powerful as blood is, it is only the “blood of the Lamb” that can take away sin. It is only by the power of his blood that we can be made what we ought to be.
“… knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.” (1 Peter 1:18-19).
Remember the chorus of the hymn?
“There is pow’r, pow’r,
In the blood of the Lamb;
There is pow’r, pow’r,
In the precious blood of the Lamb.”
His blood is powerful because of his sinlessness. No animal’s blood could take away sin. No other man’s blood could. Only the blood of the perfectly sinless Son of God could do that. His blood was shed in his death – a death that was necessitated by the sinfulness and imperfection of man. He was the sinless dying for the sinful. He gave his life that we might have life. He died that we might not die.
Like our blood cleanses our bodies from impurities, the blood of Jesus cleanses us from sin …
“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.” (1 John 1:7).
The blood of Jesus with his body are said to give us life.
“So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.” (John 6:53).
How can that be? How can we eat the flesh and drink the blood of the Son of Man? Obviously this is a figure of speech Jesus used here, but what does it mean? Jesus was going to die that awful, bloody death on the cross as a sacrifice for the sins of mankind. We partake of the benefit of his sacrifice through faith. Through faith the benefit of his sacrifice, forgiveness through grace, is obtained. Through humble, obedient faith in him we receive the gift of spiritual life.
But we must continue to partake of him – to continue to live our lives fully trusting in his power to save us. We do not save ourselves. Indeed, the blood of Jesus denies us any right of boasting of what we have done. As the second verse of the hymn says …
“Would you be free from your passion and pride?
There’s pow’r in the blood, pow’r in the blood;
Come for a cleansing to Calvary’s tide;
There’s wonderful pow’r in the blood.”
I can only stand in awe “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross.”
“When I survey the wondrous cross
on which the Prince of Glory died;
my richest gain I count but loss,
and pour contempt on all my pride.”
Indeed! The blood of Jesus is a humbling thing. It denies us the right to boast of our salvation except that that boasting be in him.
“Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
save in the death of Christ, my God;”
“But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” (Galatians 6:14).
He paid the ransom. He bought us with a price of inestimable value. That tells us something of the value he places on our souls. It also eliminates our right to boast that we save ourselves.
But there is more to it than that. That was God who came as man, who hung upon that cross, beaten, bloodied and dying. He was, as our representative, you and me receiving the punishment for our sins. His incarnation is what our life is all about. In the shedding of his blood he identified with man most completely. No wonder Paul could say …
“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me” (Galatians 2:20).