"And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me. Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you (Luke 22.19,20)."
Jesus spoke in most emphatic terms. "This is my body!" This is the new testament!" "Which is shed for you!" Had He already been crucified, His body torn, and His blood shed, it could not have been more real than at that moment. He was, in fact, as well as in the eternal purpose, "...the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world (Revelation 13.8)." Great mystery that this is, it is no less great truth. The reader might look at Psalm 139.16 for a faint glimpse into this wondrous theme. What is most important in this text, however, for the purpose of this article, is that the blood of Jesus was shed for His people.
We shall, the Lord enabling, attempt to set before our readers a portion of what is written in the New Testament pertaining to the shedding and application of the blood of Jesus. To examine all the texts would prove to be more than the limits of our little paper could contain, but ample shall be examined that we may have at least a foundational perspective of the subject.
THE BLOOD OF AGONY
Later in the evening, after the Lord spoke to His disciples concerning His body and blood, He retreated to a garden on the mount of Olives, (Luke 22.39). There the severest of His sufferings began. "And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground (Luke 22.44)." Some considerable speculation, even doubt, has arisen regarding the blood-sweat of the Lord that evening, but that His agony was extreme, and did indeed produce the sweat of blood, is accepted by even those in the medical field, as may be seen in the following:
"Although this is a very rare phenomenon, bloody sweat (hematidrosis or hemohidrosis) may occur in highly emotional states or in persons with bleeding disorders. As a result of hemorrhage into the sweat glands, the skin becomes fragile and tender. Luke's description supports the diagnosis of hematidrosis rather than eccrine chromidrosis (brown or yellow-green sweat) or stigmatization (blood oozing from the palms or elsewhere). Although some authors have suggested that hematidrosis produced hypovolemia, we agree with Bucklin that Jesus' actual blood loss probably was minimal. However, in the cold night air, it may have produced chills." Death of Christ - William D. Edwards et al, Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA), March 21, 1986 - Vol. 255, No. 11.
The blood our Lord shed in this dark garden scene was as surely the beginnings of the sacrifice of Himself as any other aspect of His sufferings. May it be our sweet portion to visit this sacred moment m our thoughts with the same amazement felt in the remainder of His sufferings.
THE BLOOD OF SCOURGING
Following soon after the terrible agonies in the garden, Jesus was betrayed by Judas and delivered to the Sanhedrin for trial and interrogation. Thereafter He was led to Pilate, (Luke 23.1). He was then sent by Pilate to Herod, who, along with his men, mocked Him and arrayed Him in a gorgeous robe (Luke 23.11), finally returning Him again to Pilate. The continuing horrors of Christ's shedding His blood took place then as Pilate had Him scourged. Unless they have examined secular sources, probably few Bible readers are aware of the extreme physical reactions produced from the severity of Roman scourgings, so we offer a detailed view.
"Flogging was a legal preliminary to every Roman execution, and only women and Roman senators or soldiers (except in cases of desertion) were exempt. The usual instrument was a short whip (flagrum or flagellum) with several single or braided leather thongs of variable lengths, in which small iron balls or sharp pieces of sheep bones were tied at intervals. Occasionally, staves also were used. For scourging, the man was stripped of his clothing, and his hands were tied to an upright post. The back, buttocks, and legs were flogged either by two soldiers (lictors) or by one who alternated positions. The severity of the scourging depended on the disposition of the lictors and was intended to weaken the victim to a state just short of collapse or death. After the scourging, the soldiers often taunted their victim.
"As the Roman soldiers repeatedly struck the victim's back with full force, the balls would cause deep contusions, and the leather thongs and sheep bones would cut into the skin and subcutaneous tissues. Then, as the flogging continued, the lacerations would tear into the underlying skeletal muscles and produce quivering ribbons of bleeding flesh. Pain and blood loss generally set the stage for circulatory shock. The extent of blood loss may well have determined how long the victim would survive on the cross." (W. D.Edwards, et al, bc. cit.)
We offer one other comment from Edwards concerning the scourging.
"Moreover, when the soldiers tore the robe from Jesus' back, they probably reopened the scourging wounds.
"The sever scourging, with its intense pain and appreciable blood loss, most probably left Jesus in a preshock state."
THE PROPHESIES OF THE BLOOD
This second stage of the Lord's bleeding was brutal beyond imagination. There can be no doubt, however, that His brutal scourging, with its attending agonies, was eternally decreed of God the Father. The prophet Isaiah had written of this horrible episode over 700 years earlier. "But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed (Isaiah 53.5)." Isaiah was not the only prophet to write of sufferings and death of Christ. There are countless scriptures pointing to that event. "And Moses took the blood, and sprinkled it on the people, and said, Behold the blood of the covenant, which the Lord hath made with you concerning all these words (Exodus 24:8)." This reference does not address the new covenant, but it was quoted by Paul in Hebrews 10.19, 20 as a contrast to the superior (better) blood offering of Christ (Hebrews 10.11-14, 23,24), for the new covenant, (Hebrews 10.15). There can be no doubt that Christ came to accomplish the will of the Father by shedding His blood. "Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God. Above when he said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein; which are offered by the law; Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, 0 God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second. By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all (Hebrews 10.7-10)." For sinners to be absolved of their guilt, accrued under the law, Jesus took away the old covenant, (the law) with the shedding of His blood and introduced for His people a new covenant which would be of force after He was dead (Hebrews 9.17).
THE CRUCIFIXION BLOOD
"Then delivered he him therefore unto them to be crucified. And they took Jesus, and led him away. And he bearing his cross went forth into a place called the place of a skull, which is called in the Hebrew Golgotha: Where they crucified him, and two other with him, on either side one, and Jesus in the midst (John 19.16-18)." It was here the Lord was actually nailed to His cross, being lifted up above the crowd for His horrid final sufferings. Observe how each step of this ordeal dissipated the holy blood of Jesus.
"The scourging prior to crucifixion served to weaken the condemned man and, if blood loss was considerable, to produce orthostatic hypotension and even hypovolemic shock. When the victim was thrown to the ground on his back, in preparation for transfixion of the hands, his scourging wounds most likely would become torn open again and contaminated with dirt. Furthermore, with each respiration, the painful scourging wounds would be scraped against the rough wood of the stipes. As a result, blood loss from the back probably would continue throughout the crucifixion ordeal." (W. D. Edwards, et al, bc. cit.)
It should be clear that by the time Jesus was lifted up He had suffered considerable blood loss. In fact, according to Edwards and other scholars that have studied the Roman crucifixions, there was a minimal loss of blood caused from the actual driving of the nails into the hands and feet.
"Although scourging may have resulted in considerable blood loss, crucifixion per se was a relatively bloodless procedure, since no major arteries, other than perhaps the deep plantar arch, pass through the favored anatomic sites of transfixion." (W.D. Edwards, et al, bc. cit)
Thus far it has been shown that Jesus suffered loss of blood in the garden, at His scourging, when being nailed to the cross, and during the time He hung suspended. The final wound that produced a loss of blood actually came after the Lord was dead. It should not be assumed that since He was dead this shedding of blood was not a part of His blood sacrifice. The Scriptures amply prove otherwise. "For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have enclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet. I may tell all my bones: they look and stare upon me. They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture. But be not thou far from me, 0 Lord: 0 my strength, haste thee to help me. Deliver my soul from the sword; my darling from the power of the dog (Psalm 22. 16-20)." This prophesy of David vividly describes the abuses of the crucifixion, including the sword that pierced the side of the Lord. When compared with the account in John, it becomes certain that the piercing of His side was necessary to the fulfillment of the Scriptures. "But when they came to Jesus, and saw that he was dead already, they brake not his legs: But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water. And he that saw it bare record, and his record is true: and he knoweth that he saith true, that ye might believe. For these things were done, that the scripture should be fulfilled, A bone of him shall not be broken. And again another scripture saith, They shall look on him whom they pierced (John 19.33-37)." John referred to both Psalm 34.20, and Zechariah 12.10 to establish that all this was done to fulfill the Scriptures, thus showing the necessity of the blood flowing from the Lord's side to fully accomplish the sacrifice of Jesus' blood.
When Thomas was informed by the other disciples of Jesus appearing to them on the evening of the first day, he was unmoved. "Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe (John 20.25)." Eight days later the Lord came again, and after bidding them peace, turned to Thomas. "Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing. And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God (John 20.27,28)." Jesus thus forever removed any serious questions concerning the spear wound as a part of His passion. He placed it on an equal value with the nail wounds. Surely all the blood Jesus shed was of equal worth, whether in the garden, during the scourging, when He was nailed to the cross, as He hung between earth and heaven, or in the final attack against His body with the spear.
THE BLOOD OF THE COVENANT
After it was concluded that Jesus was indeed dead, and the spear was thrust in His side, He was removed from the cross, prepared for burial according to Jewish custom, and placed in the tomb. Early in the morning of the first day of the week Jesus came forth from the grave, fully victorious over all foes. God the Father was satisfied! He suffered not His darling Son to see corruption. "Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant... (Hebrews 13.20)." From everlasting, before the worlds were created, the Lamb of God entered into covenant with His Father to redeem His sheep. The great Shepherd would lay down His life. His blood would be shed. "I lay down my life for my sheep." The covenant price Jesus would pay was His blood. The covenant promise His Father made was to bring Him forth from the dead as full satisfaction for His blood. Thus the wording of Paul, "Through the blood of the everlasting covenant."
THE APPLICATION OF THE BLOOD
Having seen the actual shedding of the blood of Jesus, and His Father's acceptance of it, we turn our attention to the application and benefits of so precious a sacrifice.
Remission of sin: "And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission (Hebrews 9.22)." Paul amply detailed the failure of the law to offer anything but a temporary standing before God, but proclaimed that the ordinances of the law were blotted out when Jesus nailed them to His cross (Colossians 2.14). Thus with the shedding of the Saviour's blood all the sins of His elect were at once remitted.
Redemption: The blood of Jesus also fully paid the purchase price for His church. "Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood (Acts 20.28)." This purchase by blood is elsewhere called redemption: Colossians 1.14; Ephesians 1.7; Hebrews 9.12; I Peter 1.19; Revelation 5.9.
Justification: The justification of the saints is also secured through the blood. "Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him (Romans 5.9)." While Christ was affirmed by Paul to have been raised again for our justification (Romans 4.25), it was properly the acceptance of His blood offering by which the Father was pleased to raise Him from the tomb, as we have mentioned under the heading of the covenant blood. Therefore God set Jesus forth to be a propitiation (our mercy-seat) through faith in His blood (Romans 3.25).
Purging, cleansing, washing: Another accomplishment of the blood of sacrifice was purification. The conscience is by the blood purged from dead works, (Hebrews 9.14). The blood of Jesus Christ, God's Son, cleanseth from all sin (I John 1.7). "...Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood (Revelation 1.5)." "Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you (John 15.3)." See John 5.24, 25 for reference to the word of which He spoke.
Blood of sprinkling: "But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, and to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel (Hebrews 12.22-24)." Among those numerous things to which the saints have come was Jesus, mediator of the new, or everlasting covenant, and the blood of sprinkling. The sprinkling of blood fulfills that which was typified by the old covenant mercy seat. Under the old order the Israelites met God at the ark which was covered with the mercy seat. It was to be sprinkled by the high priest with the blood of sacrifices. Now, Jesus is our great high priest, and has sprinkled Himself, our new covenant mercy seat, with His own blood. This blood of sprinkling speaks better things than Abel spoke. Abel spoke from the dead after his brother Cain slew him (Hebrews 11.4). Jesus speaks from heaven (Hebrews 12.25), for unlike Abel, death could not hold Him. Such a blessing! To hear our Saviour speak through His blood of sprinkling, to which we have come, is joyous beyond measure and draws us to welcome obedience, (I Peter 1.2).
Many other blessed and everlasting benefits of the blood might be listed. Following are but a few of them.
Sanctification: "Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate (Hebrews 13.12)."
Communion: "The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ (I Corinthians 10.16)?"
Access into the holiest: "Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus... (Hebrews 10.19)."
Made nigh: "But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ (Ephesians 2.13)."
Peace: "And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven (Colossians 1.20)."
Overcoming: "And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death (Revelation 12.11)."
A witness to us: "And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one (I John 5.8)."
Surely a more wonderful subject could not be entertained by those whose hope of eternal life must be found outside of themselves. Grace teaches us that but for the eternal will and purpose of God we might just as well have been numbered with those for whom the precious blood was not shed. Were it not for covenant love we could have joined with Pilate in washing our hands of the blood of this just person (Matthew 27.24). How rapturous the hope that we have been spared the awful consequences of those that cried, "...His blood be on us, and on our children (Matthew 27.25)."
Volume 10, No. 1 - January-February, 1996