Thursday, September 29, 2011
"But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God,
the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels,
to the general assembly
and church of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven,
and to God, the Judge of all,
and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect,
and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant,
and to the sprinkled blood,
which speaks better than the blood of Abel."
These verses come at the end of a discourse about Mount Sinai and Mount Zion. The author of Hebrews loves to compare law and grace, and in this chapter he contrasts approaching Sinai with fear and trembling and approaching God through the blood of Christ. The reason I want to write about this verse is because of the comparison between the blood of Abel and the blood of Christ.
The last phrase says, "which speaks better than the blood of Abel", inferring that the message of Jesus' blood is better than the message of Abel's blood. So, let's start with asking what Abel's blood is saying.
After He murdered his brother Abel, Cain was approached by God:
"Then the LORD said to Cain,
“Where is Abel your brother?”
And he said, “I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?”
He said, “What have you done?
The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to Me from the ground."
What was Abel's brother's blood saying? What exactly was the message that the blood of this slain shepherd was shouting? He was crying for justice. His life had been taken unexpectedly and without cause, and Abel's blood was crying out to Almighty God for justice.
Now, Abel was a sinner, just like Cain. But in this story, Cain was the one who was reprimanded by the Lord and told to change his ways. Abel was the obedient one. And in this story, Abel's life was taken from him because of his brother's sinful selfishness and rebellion.
So what does Jesus' blood say? Hebrews 12 says that it has a better message, but let's look at the circumstance first. Jesus wasn't a sinner. He lived a perfect life, was persecuted by the ones who should have recognized Him as God but instead competed for popularity with him, was falsely accused, was illegally tried and hung on a cross.
Then on the cross our sins, our guilt, our shame - our pride, selfishness, anxieties, phobias, ugliness, hatred, rebellion and lust - all of it was placed on Him so that He was no longer perfect, but He became full of sin - He became sin who knew no sin...(2 Cor. 5:21) His blood was shed and had a message as well.
So what did Jesus' blood cry out?
Not justice. Not retaliation or revenge.
A much better message than justice, don't you think?
As recipients of His mercy, may we walk today with gratitude for such a wonderful Savior.