His Blood Be On Us

All great stories have certain common components. There is a protagonist (the good guy), an antagonist (the bad guy, or that which stands against good guy), and the stakes (what the good guy aims to win or lose). The good guy wants something, the protagonist stands against him, and the audience watches as the good guy fights for what he wants.

Let’s use Jurassic Park as an example. The protagonists are the humans, whose goal is to stay alive. The antagonists are the dinosaurs, which aim to eat said humans.

In Matthew 27, we see a mockery of a trial. Jesus is accused of, well, no one is actually sure. He’s accused of everything and yet nothing. Though no one says it, Jesus is accused of upending everyone’s life. He was too dangerous. He asked too much of them—their lives. He was too powerful. He upended the status quo.

Pilate tries to punish and release Jesus (Luke 23:15-16), but the crowd will not relent. They want Jesus executed, and they are fired up. Pilate doesn’t see much fault in Jesus, but neither will he stick his neck out on his behalf.

When the mob starts to riot, Pilate figures it’s time to get on with the execution. He publicly washes his hands, saying, “I am innocent of this man’s blood; see to it yourselves” (Matt. 27:24). The mob gladly claims responsibility.

They shout:

“His blood be on us and on our children!” (Matt. 27:25)

His blood be on us and on our children. If only they understood the foolishness of these words. If only they understood the irony of them.

And here we must stop for a moment. This is the greatest story ever told, so yeah, the common elements are here. The protagonist is Jesus. The crowd are the antagonists. The stakes? They could not be higher. The stakes are the salvation of the world.

But there is a twist. The protagonist sacrifices for the benefit of the antagonists. The good guy, Jesus, lays his life down for the bad guys. To conquer their sin, he must first bear the brunt of it.

The crowd cheers and jeers as the guards brutalize Jesus. Though he endures unspeakable pain, he does not open his mouth. He takes it. He knows the stakes and he knows what must be done. The bad guys haven’t a clue this man who they mock and torture is their rescuer.

The arrogant mob meant it when they said, “His blood be on us and on our children.” What’s worse, they seem to have been earnest when they drug their children into the situation.

Jesus would turn their wicked statement upside down.

Jesus spilled his blood to atone for the sins of everyone present that day, and he offers that same blood to us. Though we deserve condemnation, Jesus’ blood purifies us. We don’t know who, if anyone, in the crowd experienced the saving love of Christ. I have great hope that some did. Maybe those who screamed for Jesus to be crucified experienced his grace. I hope.

Every night when I pray for my kids, I pray they would know how much God loves them. I don’t say it verbatim, but I pray for Jesus’ blood to be on them. I pray the same for myself, and the same for you.

Let his blood be on us and on our children.

The Remission of Sins

For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. ~Matthew 26:28 KJV

When we put our faith in Jesus, we do not merely make a choice to be better. We do not simply sober up, act right, or clean up our language. These things should happen as symptoms, but they are not the action we aim for. If we think we can save ourselves, we are delusional. And thus if we choose to go to battle with our sinfulness without Jesus we are like David vs. Goliath without God’s help. If God was not with David, he would have been stomped into the ground by Goliath. His borrowed armor would have been crushed like a soda can and Goliath would have roared in victory.

Ephesians 2:8 says our salvation is a gift. The recipient of a gift is the passive party – the party being given something. The giver is the active one. And our gift, this gift of salvation from God, is a gift of death (Romans 6:3). We were buried with Him so we might walk in the newness of life (Romans 6:4). Death to life.

 

Progressive Sanctification

While our former nature is gone and the new is here, we are not yet perfect. We have died to sin nature – that is, being ruled by sin – but sin still remains. This is a long journey. We are a work in progress and the Artist is still hard at work with His chisel, piling up shavings as we become something beautiful – like Jesus.

Here is how it works:

And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. ~2 Corinthians 3:18 ESV

We move from one degree of glory to another. It is progressive. If you think of a line graph, the line is pointing up and to the right over time. Upon salvation, our standing with the Father is perfected (Ephesians 2:16), but we remain imperfect and sin-prone people. Saved but still being sanctified.

Notice the engine of sanctification – beholding the glory of the Lord. We see Him rightly and our faces glow as we stare into His light. When we behold Christ through prayer, Scripture, song, church community, nature, and family – sanctification happens. And our sanctification, like our salvation is also a gift: “For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.”

 

Remission of Sins

The King James version of the Bible says that Jesus’ blood was shed for the “remission of sins.” The English Standard Version uses “forgiveness of sins.” Both sound pretty good to me. The Greek word used for forgiveness/remission here, aphesin, means to pardon, release, and/or send away. The idea I get here is a prisoner released and told to leave the prison. You are free to go.

Romans 6:12-14 states:

Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace. ~Romans 6:12-14 ESV

“Let not.” “Do not.” “Present yourselves.” These are active verbs. Jesus opens the door to our cell and offers His hand. Will we get up and leave our prison of sinfulness? Will we take His hand and present our bodies as instruments for righteousness?

The saving work and the sanctifying work are God’s. Let’s not get confused here. We are not the agents of change. But we do have a role. Jesus’ atoning work on the cross put our sins into remission and bought us right standing with God, and that’s finished work. Irrevocable work. And now we live not under the law but under grace.

May we take up arms and fight our sins with the armor of God. May we walk out of our prison emboldened by our pardon, ready to wage war against the sin remaining in us. Christian, you are no longer under the law. Your sins have been sent away. Walk out of that prison cell into the freedom purchased for you on calvary.

Take His hand.

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God is Good – All the Time

While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. Luke 24:15 ESV

 

Bad things happen to good people and good things happen to bad people. Our loved ones pass away and we follow them shortly after. War, abortion, sickness, murder, poverty, and other forms of brokenness invade our world. If things are smooth sailing, it is temporary. Suffering is unavoidable, like death and taxes.

Several members of our church experienced the loss of loved ones this week. It is a heavy week, with hearts grieving yet rejoicing.

In Luke 24, two of Jesus’ disciples are hurting. Jesus had just been crucified and the hope of many died with him. Others whispered about a resurrection but many were skeptical. Rumors abounded. But as we watch these two walking down the road, we see Jesus Himself draw near to them. We see Jesus enter the space of their grief and interrupt the mourning with His presence. That’s what Jesus does.

But Jesus did not only offer His presence (which is enough), He gave them an explanation of what happened. They started their walk in sadness and confusion and Jesus ended their walk with clarity and peace.

As we mourn with those who mourn, know that Jesus mourns as well. Jesus wept with those weeping about the death of Lazarus. He shed real saline tears from the bottom of His perfect heart.

And then He raised Lazarus.

Our Lord never leaves us to weep alone. He enters into the places where our hearts stick in our throats and our eyes sting from crying. With His presence, He displaces the confusion and infuses a love so deep it is hard to comprehend. Now does this make our weeping stop? Does it make it all okay that we have just lost someone very close to us? No on both fronts. We will weep and hurt and it’s never okay to lose a loved one. It hurts, badly. But if those who we lost knew Jesus we know that He too will raise them. That their death is merely a transition to a deeper communion with Jesus.

While death still stings, it won’t sting forever. Our mortal body will put on immortality.

Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:

“Death is swallowed up in victory.”

“O death, where is your victory?

O death, where is your sting?”

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Corinthians 15:51-57 ESV

So we mourn with those who mourn and rejoice with those who rejoice. We offer hope and sometimes we offer nothing more than our presence, because that’s where Jesus starts. And we know that God is good – all the time.

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