Meet Your Blood Donor
Meet Your Blood Donor
Our god-daughter’s second child, Hazy, was diagnosed with leukaemia in 2015. Medically, her only hope was a matching donor. A young German man, who has to remain anonymous, sacrificially gave his bone marrow. Wonderfully, his donation saved Hazy’s life. Can you imagine what it would be like for Hazy to meet her donor? (http://www.hertfordshiremercury.co.uk/incredibly-strong-and-brave-albury-girl-3-recovering-after-stem-cell-transplant-to-cure-cancer/story-30338431-detail/story.html#om81tx0v86jOeGjV.99)
In an even more remarkable way, you can meet your blood donor. Jesus came ‘to give his life as a ransom for many’ (Mark 10:45). At the last supper, when Jesus took the cup, he said: ‘This is my blood of the covenant’ (Matthew 26:28; Mark 14:24). The ‘precious blood of Christ’ (1 Peter 1:19) is stressed throughout the whole New Testament:
- It makes forgiveness possible (Colossians 1:14)
- It purifies you from every sin (1 John 1:7)
- Through it, you draw near to God (Ephesians 2:13)
- It brings peace and reconciliation (Colossians 1:20)
- It gives life (John 6:53)
- It enables you overcome Satan (Revelation 12:11).
In today’s passages, we see different aspects of what all of this means.
The ultimate act of friendshipProverbs 27:5-14
It is such a privilege to have good friends. The greatest privilege of all is the friendship of Jesus. He calls you his friend and shed his blood as the ultimate act of friendship. Jesus said, ‘Greater love has no one than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends’ (John 15:13).
This section of Proverbs is all about the importance of friendship: ‘Better a nearby friend than a distant relative’ (Proverbs 27:10, MSG). The advice of a friend is a great blessing: ‘Just as lotions and fragrance give sensual delight, a sweet friendship refreshes the soul’ (v.9, MSG). Loyalty to your friends is very important: ‘Do not forsake your friend and the friend of your parent’ (v.10).
A good friend will not only say nice things: ‘Better is open rebuke than hidden love’ (v.5). The writer of Proverbs goes on to say, ‘Wounds from a friend can be trusted’ (v.6). True friendship involves more than unquestioning approval. I am so grateful to my good friends who have confronted me with painful truth from time to time – always out of love and with great sensitivity and grace.
‘Wounds’ is used here figuratively, in the sense of causing emotional pain or grief to a friend for their good, out of love. However, I cannot help thinking, in the light of today’s theme, of the fact that ‘wounding’, in the literal understanding of the word, means ‘shedding blood’. In the case of Jesus, he did not shed our blood, but his own. ‘He was wounded for our transgressions’ (Isaiah 53:5). His blood was shed for you in the ultimate act of friendship.
Lord, thank you so much for friends and, most of all, for your great friendship. Thank you that you were willing to lay down your life and shed your blood for me.
A clear conscienceHebrews 9:1-15
‘Most people, most of the time, have something which hangs heavy on their hearts, something they have done or said which they wish they hadn’t, something which haunts them and makes them afraid of being found out,’ writes Bishop Tom Wright. ‘How wonderful to know that the sacrifice of Jesus and the sprinkled blood which results from it has the power as we accept it in faith and trust, to wash every stain from the conscience so that we can come to God without any shadow falling across our relationship.’
The book of Hebrews explains how under the old covenant, only the high priest could enter the Most Holy Place ‘only once a year [on the day of atonement], and never without blood’ (v.7). The blood of a sacrifice represented the life of the animal that had been killed (‘the life is in the blood’, Leviticus 17:11). Their life was given in exchange for that of the person making the sacrifice.
The priests were not allowed to enter the Most Holy Place. Their work was done in the outer tent. Except on the annual occasion, the way into the throne room of God was barred to all, even to the high priest himself.
When the high priest did receive permission to enter, his entry was safeguarded by sacrificial blood. However, this sacrificial blood was not totally effective. Fresh blood had to be shed and fresh entry made into the Holy of Holies each year. Further, although they might have brought about outward cleansing (Hebrews 9:13), they were not able to cleanse ‘the conscience of the worshipper’ (v.9).
In reality, it was only an ‘illustration’ (v.9), ‘a visible parable... a temporary arrangement until the complete overhaul could be made’ (vv.8–10, MSG). It pointed beyond itself. It was fulfilled through the blood of Christ.
When Jesus came, he ‘bypassed the sacrifices consisting of goat and calf blood, instead using his own blood as the price to set us free once and for all’ (vv.11–12, MSG). By doing this ‘he brought together God and his people in this new way’ (v.17, MSG).
What does this mean?
- You are clean inside and out
Jesus makes it possible for your conscience to be cleansed: ‘The blood of Christ cleans up our whole lives, inside and out... through the Spirit’ (v.14, MSG).
- You have been set free
‘Christ offered himself as an unblemished sacrifice, freeing us from all those dead-end efforts to make ourselves respectable, so that we can live all out for God’ (v.15, MSG).
The Holy Spirit and the blood of Christ go together. Joyce Meyer writes, ‘The Spirit could not be poured out on the Day of Pentecost until the blood was poured out on the cross of Calvary.’
Lord Jesus, thank you that you make it possible for me to have a clear conscience and to live all-out for God. Thank you that you paid the ransom price, setting me free by shedding your blood for me.
Restored fortunesEzekiel 16:1-63
God loves you. Everything God does stems from his love for you. In this prophetic allegory, God’s love for his people is described as being like a husband’s for his wife: ‘I took care of you, dressed you and protected you. I promised you my love and entered the covenant of marriage with you’ (v.8, MSG).
The Lord’s blessing involves cleansing (v.9), clothing with fine linen (v.10), giving of beauty (vv.11–13), food to satisfy (v.13), fame (v.14) and splendour (v.14).
The tragic words that follow can apply to us as individuals or as a nation: ‘But you’ (v.15). In spite of all that God had done, they turned around and rejected him. Instead they trusted in their beauty and used their fame in an unfaithful way (v.15).
Sin often starts with unbelief, trusting in something other than the Lord. It leads to idolatry – worshipping something other than the Lord, and then to increasing sin (v.26), often from our weak wills (v.30).
The results of sin are dissatisfaction (vv.28–29) and God’s judgment (vv.30–34). Jerusalem has been like an unfaithful wife, serving idols and giving them, ‘[their] children’s blood’ (v.36). Because she has shed blood, her own blood will be shed (v.38). The word ‘blood’ occurs seven times in this passage (vv.6,9,22,36,38).
He compares their sin to the sin of Sodom. What he speaks about are not the sexual sins normally associated with Sodom; rather, he writes, ‘She lived with her daughters in the lap of luxury – proud, gluttonous, and lazy. They ignored the oppressed and the poor. They put on airs and lived obscene lives’ (vv.49–50, MSG).
They are the common sins of any prosperous society – arrogance, overeating and a lack of concern for the poor and needy. When people do not have any needs they frequently turn away from God. Their worst sin was not to help the poor and needy.
Yet in spite of all of this, God promises to restore the fortunes of Sodom and the fortunes of his people (v.53). He promises an everlasting covenant (v.60) and that he will make atonement (v.63).
This word ‘atonement’ is also found in today’s passage from Hebrews – the ‘atonement cover’ on the Ark of the Covenant, a symbol of the mercy of God (Hebrews 9:5). Atonement points to the need for something to be done to wash away your sins. It speaks of two great realities.
First, the reality and seriousness of God’s reaction against sin. Second, the reality and greatness of his love, which provided the sacrifice through the blood of Jesus. St Paul wrote, ‘The Son of God… loved me and gave himself for me’ (Galatians 2:20). It is as personal as that. His blood was given for you. He bore your sins. He died your death. His blood atoned for your sin. He is your blood donor.
Thank you, Lord, that in your great love, you shed your blood. Thank you that today I can know that I am loved, forgiven and live with a clear conscience.
‘... the sins the people have committed in ignorance.’
I’m sure I have plenty of those, as well as the ones I know about!
Verse of the Day
‘… the blood of Christ cleans up our whole lives, inside and out… through the Spirit’ (Hebrews 9:14, MSG).
Roy Clements, Introducing Jesus, (Kingsway Publications, 1992).
Joyce Meyer, The Everyday Life Bible, (Faithwords, 2006) p. 2045
Tom Wright, Hebrews for Everyone, (SPCK Publishing, 2003) p.116.
Unless otherwise stated, Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version Anglicised, Copyright © 1979, 1984, 2011 Biblica, formerly International Bible Society. Used by permission of Hodder & Stoughton Publishers, an Hachette UK company. All rights reserved. ‘NIV’ is a registered trademark of Biblica. UK trademark number 1448790.
Scripture marked (MSG) taken from The Message. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.