July 8

Ephesians 1:3-8a

“In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace that he lavished on us.” vss. 7-8a

When soldiers die in battle we commonly say that they have shed their blood for the sake of their country, and that they died to maintain our freedom. And of course we set aside days to remember their great sacrifice. Early Christians had a similar regard for the death of Jesus on a cross. They had almost all been reared in a religion that required the shedding of blood for the forgiveness of sins. So when Jesus was crucified, almost at once they began to understand his death in sacrificial terms. In fact, they believed that his death marked the end of that whole era of blood atonement. No longer would people need to offer sacrifices to atone for their sins, from now on, by the lavish riches of God’s grace, redemption had been taken care of. Jesus had died so that all might be set free! And it was all a gift! Now there are some who don’t like this kind of language–the notion of a blood atonement is repellant to them. We can understand the objection. And certainly it’s barbaric to think of God requiring such a thing of Jesus. But we can understand the power of the imagery–the shedding of blood for the sake of another is the ultimate statement of love. And because it is, the cross of Christ will always be the center of our faith!

Thought for the Day: Which is the more powerful symbol in your life? $ or T

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