Before moving on to the next verse in our study (2:10), I wanted to address a question from a reader. Back in our study of redemption in 1:7 (August 12, 2011 post), we noted: “Why emphasize the blood of Christ so often? Why not speak more of His life than His graphic death? Because, as Hebrews 9:22 declares: ‘Almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.’ . . . Because of sin and guilt, blood must be shed for forgiveness.”
Question: “Why must there be blood shed? I don’t doubt it. I believe that because the Bible says so. But why? Is there an answer for this?” (LT)
Answer: I would first commend you on your comment, “I don’t doubt it. I believe that because the bible says so.” That attitude demonstrates a life of faith and humility, one untainted by skepticism and unbelief.
As noted above, Hebrews 9:22 declares: “without shedding of blood is no remission.” Now, the reason for that is rooted in Leviticus 17:11, one of the key verses of the book, “For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul.” The principle behind atonement is life for life, and it is blood that is the critical symbol of life.
There is some fascinating history here that illustrates all this. In his 1628 book, On the Motion of the Heart and Blood, English physician Dr. William Harvey (1578–1657) was the first person to describe in detail the systemic circulation and properties of blood being pumped to the body by the heart (although others had similar ideas before him). “It is the fountain of life,” he wrote, “the first to live, and the last to die, and the primary seat of the animal soul; it lives and is nourished of itself, and by no other part of the human body.” He did, in fact, fully revive the Mosaic principle of the vitality of the blood. This principle was later adopted by the celebrated Dr. John Hunter (1728-93), professor of anatomy in London, who fully establish the reality of this through experimentation. Later, the eminent French zoologist Milne Edwards (1800-85) made this amazing statement:
If an animal be bled until it falls into a state of syncope, and the further loss of blood is not prevented, all muscular motion quickly ceases, respiration is suspended, the heart pauses from its action, life is no longer manifested by any outward sign, and death soon becomes inevitable; but if, in this state, the blood of another animal of the same species be injected into the veins of the one to all appearance dead, we see with amazement this inanimate body return to life, gaining accessions of vitality with each new quantity of blood that is introduced, eventual beginning to breathe freely, moving with ease, and finally walking as it was wont to do, and recovering completely.
So, as the ancient rabbis expressed it, the sacrifice offered life for life, soul for soul, an innocent victim atoning for the guilty party. That is what Christ did for us. He was the ultimate blood sacrifice. As we were dead in sin (Eph. 2:1-3), it was His blood that gave us life. It was that “blood transfusion” that saved all those who would believe.
Soli deo Gloria!