“…for you were slain, and purchased for God with your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. (Revelation 5:9)
I did a quick search of all the New Testament scriptures that refer specifically to Jesus’ blood, and what it’s intended purpose is. Here’s what I found:
- Overcome Satan
- Release us from our sins
- Redeem us
- Forgiveness of sins
- Purchase the church for God
- Redemption and forgiveness
- Bringing near to God
- Reconciled, at peace with God
- Cleanse the conscience of dead works
- Put away sin
- Sanctify and perfect
- Make a way to approach God
- Cleansing of an evil conscience
- Superior testimony than Abel’s blood
The theme I see is this: Jesus’ shed his blood to bring us to God. Peter sums it up well: (1 Peter 3:18) For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God…
I believe that’s the essence of it – to bring us to God. Our justification, salvation, sanctification, forgiveness, cleansing, etc. all ultimately go toward that end. The Bible most commonly calls this process “redemption.” This is one of those churchy words we often gloss over without understanding, but in reality it is a deep and amazing thing. In both the underlying Greek word and English, the word “redemption” means “to pay the price for someone’s freedom.” Jesus’ blood paid the price for our freedom. Not necessarily for us to go to heaven, but for us to be free. It was a once-for-all payment, so we’ll never be compelled back into slavery to our old master.
Reaching this point, Christianity does two things terribly wrong: it stops truly following and going deeper with God, and it twists the meaning of this freedom we have in Christ. Christianity misses that as amazing and important as salvation and redemption are, they are merely the starting point of a life of walking with God without self-focused fear hindering intimacy. Christianity has never repented of these errors. I see three main forms of this perversion in understanding the nature of our freedom : 1). Freedom is a ticket to heaven, so we can relax and live like any other moral person. 2). Jesus may have set us free, but God is still angry at sin, so we have to continue to “repent” of our bad behavior and do good things to prove we are really set free. 3). Ignorance or unbelief that we have been set free at all.
None of these is correct. Sin is a defeated foe, something that’s been paid for fully. Maybe more surprisingly, God didn’t set us free in Christ just so He can have us in heaven. I know our pride wants to think that, but it isn’t true. He primarily set us free for Himself – so that we can cooperate with Him in establishing His kingdom on earth. Yes, He is a loving Father and wants good for us. But this is His Kingdom, not ours. We’ve only been invited into it and given the opportunity to participate in building it. If we don’t, we risk being cast out of God’s presence entirely, which is a terrible fate.
We have been set free, not just from something (sin, fear, blindness, condemnation), but to something (God’s kingdom). But keep in mind, being set free doesn’t mean that the road is easy from there on. Think of the slaves after the emancipation proclamation. Some probably had it harder for a while after they learned they had been set free – navigating in a new land, without their familiar routines and supplies. But we have a faithful and loving Father. Let’s trust and pursue Him. Amen.