Lent Devotion for March 11
"Blood, the Life of the Flesh"
Reader: “The life of the body is in the blood.”
Response: “The blood of Christ is poured out to forgive the sins of many. It brings life.”
SCRIPTURE: Leviticus 17:10-14
10 “And if any native Israelite or foreigner living among you eats or drinks blood in any form, I will turn against that person and cut him off from the community of your people, 11 for the life of the body is in its blood. I have given you the blood on the altar to purify you, making you right with the Lord. It is the blood, given in exchange for a life, that makes purification possible. 12 That is why I have said to the people of Israel, ‘You must never eat or drink blood—neither you nor the foreigners living among you.’13 “And if any native Israelite or foreigner living among you goes hunting and kills an animal or bird that is approved for eating, he must drain its blood and cover it with earth. 14 The life of every creature is in its blood. That is why I have said to the people of Israel, ‘You must never eat or drink blood, for the life of any creature is in its blood.’ So whoever consumes blood will be cut off from the community.
SCRIPTURE: Matthew 26:28
26 As they were eating, Jesus took some bread and blessed it. Then he broke it in pieces and gave it to the disciples, saying, “Take this and eat it, for this is my body.”27 And he took a cup of wine and gave thanks to God for it. He gave it to them and said, “Each of you drink from it, 28 for this is my blood, which confirms the covenant between God and his people. It is poured out as a sacrifice to forgive the sins of many. 29 Mark my words—I will not drink wine again until the day I drink it new with you in my Father’s Kingdom.”
Reader: “The word of the Lord.”
Response: “Thanks be to God.”
Several years ago, the seven-year-old daughter of the pastor I was serving developed leukemia and passed away the following year. As part of the process of finding a bone marrow donor, many of us in the congregation had our blood tested and entered the national bone marrow registry. To my joyful surprise some five years later I got a call that I might be a match for a young man in Minnesota. After nineteen vials of blood, it was determined that I was a perfect match with his blood. I went to the City of Hope and gave a liter of bone marrow. They flew the marrow to Minnesota and put it into his body. It took. Put very simply, it produced my healthy blood in his body. He was alive because my blood was giving him life. Sadly, he developed some other complications and lost his life.
You can see from the Leviticus passage how sacred blood is in God’s view. Life literally is in the blood. It carries nutrients throughout the body. It removes waste. It brings healing. It is treated with utmost respect in Scripture. Treating the blood of a living animal with respect is the same as treating the creature with respect. The blood on the altar represents the life of the one whose blood it is. It represents the total commitment of the sacrificial creature. The devotion was so complete, that the giving of one’s self left nothing for the self. That is why, in the Old Testament, the worshiper would always place his/her hands on the head of the sacrificial lamb, thereby identifying themselves vicariously and totally with the animal, which acted as a substitute for their own life. The shed blood of the animal was symbolically the worshiper’s own blood…his/her life is given in full. Jesus tells us in Matthew’s gospel that his blood was poured out as a sacrifice for the sins of many (yours and mine). If you will symbolically, Jesus’ put His blood in our bodies with the result of our receiving life because of his shedding His own blood and His life. His life in exchange for our life. He took our sin and death and gave us life. It is almost like he put His blood in us giving us a transfusion of his own perfect, holy blood, which resulted in our receiving the forgiveness of sin and His life eternal. The blood sacrifice was a real outward expression of the spiritual and material truth of redemption of God’s children. You have been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!
MUSIC: “Wondrous Love” by Robert Scholz and St. Olaf Choir, Anton Armstrong
Unto Him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and His Father; to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.