The Blood of the Cross

By Lewis Willis

Much is promised because of the shedding of his blood. Peter called his blood the precious blood: “For as much as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot” (1 Pet. 1:18-19).

Because the Jews hated Jesus with such passion, they demanded that the Romans crucify him (Matt. 27:22-23). To appease the Jewish mob, Pilate delivered Jesus and two common thieves to his soldiers and they crucified them (Luke 23:32-33). Because the Jews wanted the bodies removed from the cross before the Sabbath day, they besought Pilate that their legs might be broken and their bodies removed from the crosses. The legs of the thieves were broken, but when they came to Jesus, he was dead already. Thus, one of the soldiers reached forth with his spear and pierced his side, and precious blood of the Son of God was shed (John 19:31-34).

In volume, it was not much blood. It is unlikely that even all of his blood was shed. At the most it was but the blood of a single man which John witnessed falling from the cross onto Palestinian soil (John 19:35). However, with the shedding of that blood there was wrought a change that would affect the lives and souls of people from the beginning of man’s sojourn on the earth, until the time that Jesus shall come again. The Hebrew writer tells us that his blood was shed for the transgressions of those who lived under the first testament, as well as those who live under the second (Heb. 9:15). All of humanity who desire salvation are depending upon the blood of the cross.

In this article I wish to list some of the things that are said to be accomplished by the blood of Christ, defining some of the terms that are used in the Divine narrative. We often use these words interchangeably, but they have different shades of meaning which I would like to share with you.

1. Made nigh. It is said that those who were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. “But now in Christ Je- sus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ” (Eph. 2:13). The immediate reference was to the Gentiles, but in a real sense, it refers to us all. All of us are far from God because of our sin. Sin separates us from God (Isa. 59:1-2). By the blood of the cross, we are made nigh to him again.

2. Peace is given. Paul said that Jesus, when he died, “made peace through the blood of his cross” (Col. 1:20). The peace effected is a peace with God. We became his enemy when we sinned (Jas. 4:4), but that state of enmity was corrected by the blood of the cross. Peace was the result: Peace with God, and peace within the soul.

3. Redemption obtained. The Bible says, “by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us” (Heb. 9:12). Several words are translated redeem or redemption. Exagorazo “denotes to buy out, especially of purchasing a slave with a view to his freedom.” Lutrosis means “deliverance . . . from the guilt and power of sin.” Apolutrosis means “liberation from the guilt and doom of sin and the intro- duction into a life of liberty” (Vine 263-264). All of these definitions apply in this case. Man was enslaved to sin until Christ delivered or liberated him from that sin by the blood of the cross. Through redemption the power, guilt and doom of sin was removed.

4. Purged from dead works. The Hebrew writer asked: “How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” (Heb. 9:14). Katharizo is the word translated purge. It means “to cleanse, make clean . . . purification” (Vine 232). By the blood of the cross we are cleansed from the dead works of sin (1 John 1:7).

5. Reconciled. Paul said, “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” (Col. 1:20). Katallasso is the word translated reconcile. It means “to change from enmity to friendship” (Vine 260). We have already noted that sin or friendship with the world establishes a state of enmity and alienation between man and God (Isa. 59:1- 2; Jas. 4:4). That state of enmity is changed to a state of friendship by the blood of the cross when we obey the gospel of Christ.

6. Sanctified. The word is hagiasmos which means “separation to God . . . from evil things and ways.” Hagiazo signifies “the separation of the believer from the world” (Vine 317-318). The Hebrew writer spoke of the punishment of those who have “counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing” (Heb. 10:29). By the blood of the cross, we are separated from the evil of sin and the world, and we are separated or set apart unto God. This is said to be “an individual possession.”

7. Justified. Paul said we are“now justified by his blood” (Rom. 5:9). Dikaiosis is translated justified and it means “acquittal . . . from guilt . . . pronouncing righteous” (Vine 284-285). Vine also says the idea is “no condemnation” (Rom. 8:1). The meaning of acquittal is release, or to set free. We cannot change the fact that we have sinned (Rom. 3:23). But, by the blood of the cross, we are set free from the guilt of sin and pronounced just or righteous by God.

8. Forgiven. Paul said, “In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace” (Eph. 1:7). Forgiveness or aphiemi means “to send away.” Another form of the word, aphesis, means “a dismissal” (Vine 122). Through the blood of the cross, our sins are removed from us, and we are dismissed from the doom of them through our obedience to the gospel of Christ. That obedience remits our sins (Acts 2:38).

A host of blessings are ours through the blood of the cross. It is evident that we are in serious trouble until that blood saves us from our sins. What does the blood mean to you? Does it mean enough to cause you to obey the Lord? Or, do you despise it through your refusal to obey the gospel?