The blood that speaks better things
But you have come to… … the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel. – Hebrews 12:22-24.
Last week, we learnt why the blood of Jesus is called the blood of sprinkling and the important place that the blood occupies in Heaven. Let’s now look at what is it that the blood of Jesus speaks and how it is better than was the blood of Abel speaks.
The blood of Abel vs the blood of Jesus
First, let’s look at the difference between the blood of Jesus and the blood of Abel. The blood of Abel cried out for vengeance on the murderer. It invoked punishment on Cain’s sin as a result of which Cain becomes a restless wanderer on hardened earth from which he could not reap the fruits of his labour. The punishment was a lifelong sentence of a non-achieving life. (Learn more the consequences of sin here.) The blood of Jesus, on the other hand, cries out for mercy on sinners. While this is true, it is an oversimplification. There is more to what the blood of Jesus speaks.
The blood of Jesus doesn’t merely intercede; it also instructs.
The blood of Jesus does not only intercede for mercy on our behalf, it also instructs us. Let’s look at parts of verse 24 and 25 to understand this great truth. “… the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel. See that you do not refuse Him who speaks”. The phrase ‘do not refuse Him who speaks’ becomes meaningless, if the blood merely intercedes to God the Father. It makes sense only when we understand that it is speaking to us and that we should not refuse the instruction that it gives. (Learn more about how Jesus and His blood are one here.)
Many Christians recognise the fact that the blood of Jesus doesn’t merely intercede, but also instructs. They believe that the blood of Jesus and the blood of Abel speaks similar things.
Obedience to God: Cain was rebellious; he didn’t want follow the path that God showed, he wanted to do it his way. Instead of going to God on God’s terms, his rebellious attitude made him go on his own terms. (Watch a video about going one’s own way here.) Abel, however, lived in obedience to God. His parents, Adam and Eve, would have taught both Cain and Abel about God, about sin, and about the shedding of blood as atonement for sin. (Learn more about atonement here.) Abel faithfully obeyed by bringing an animal sacrifice as offering to God. People believe that just like Abel, Jesus too lived in obedience to God’s will; in fact, Jesus was better in His obedience that He was willing to obey even to the point of death. They believe that Jesus’ obedience was perfect, and therefore better than Abel’s.
Unashamed faith: Abel was living with his brother Cain whose rebellious attitude led him to a lifestyle of disobedience. We can imagine, that being the elder brother with his own way of thinking, Cain would have teased and taunted Abel about his faith. And in the midst of such an attitude and lifestyle, Abel unashamedly followed and professed his faith. The Bible says that Abel’s blood, though he died, speaks about his faith. People believe that Jesus’ blood does the same in a louder and clearer manner.
Self-sacrifice: Abel was a shepherd. Shepherds have the nature of self-sacrifice; they would protect their sheep at any cost. Abel was a good shepherd. Jesus is also called the ‘good shepherd’. He was willing to sacrifice His own life for us, His sheep. What Abel did, Jesus did better; He is the ultimate self-sacrifice.
While all the above are true, and Jesus’ blood surely speaks to us about obedience, faith and self-sacrifice, it speaks much more. Some people believe that Jesus’ blood spoke what Abel’s blood spoke in a better, more perfect way. But the Bible says that the blood of Jesus speaks better things than the blood of Abel, not the same things in a better way.
What does the blood of Jesus say?
THE BLOOD OF JESUS SAYS THAT YOU ARE RIGHTEOUS
Paul says – But you have come to Mount Zion. – Hebrews 12:22. In the previous verses, he talks about the Old Testament believers going to Mount Sinai, where they were terrified by the presence of God. That was where they received the Ten Commandments. The Ten Commandments were designed such that no one could fulfil them, the purpose being that man should understand that he is a sinner and that he needs a saviour. But the Old Testament people understood it in a legalistic manner and focussed on the actions of sin that the commandments warns against; they did not consider sin in the heart and thought level. If we go by Jesus’ sermon on the Mount, we will realise that by a look you can commit adultery, by a thought, murder and by a desire, theft. The Ten Commandment were given so that man could understand that ‘all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God’. Any thought that is contrary to God’s perfect righteousness is sin. (Learn more about sin here.) The purpose of the Ten Commandments was to condemn constantly. They were to deal with the condemnation by offering sacrifices for atonement, in the process of which they were supposed to realise that they were sinners and they needed God.
But under the new covenant, Paul says that they were no longer going to Mount Sinai where they received condemnation, but they had come to Mount Zion where they received righteousness. Today we receive a message, not of condemnation, but of justification. The blood of Jesus says that we are righteousness, washed by the blood of the Lamb, that our sins are remembered no more and that we are accepted of God. The blood of Abel could not say any of this; only the blood of Jesus could. The blood of Jesus says that there is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus. The blood of Jesus says that we have received the ‘gift of righteousness’.
THE BLOOD OF JESUS SPEAKS A JOYFUL MESSAGE
The blood of Jesus speaks a joyful message that tells the guilty that they are now the beloved of God. What is Christian preaching? – Listening to the voice of the blood of Jesus that speaks from God’s presence and speaking it forth to the world. Christian message should align with the message of the blood of Jesus that speaks better things than the blood of Abel. But sometimes, preachers just condemn and criticise the congregation. Nobody is perfect; we all, preacher and listener alike, have imperfections and we live only by the grace of God. The Holy Spirit through the Word, is changing us and working in us. So no one is in a position to condemn another. Our preaching should be that no matter how unworthy, no matter how great a sinner a person may be, that God is good and faithful, gracious and forgiving and He gave His own son for our sins.
Jesus’ sermons were not religious and legalistic, they were compassionate. The Sermon on the Mount is a loving and caring message that tells us not to worry about their food, drink and clothing; instead to seek the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things would be given to them, for the Heavenly Father know our needs. We see another example of His grace and mercy when the Pharisees condemned the woman caught in adultery. They legally and legalistically quoted Moses and expected Jesus to accuse her as well. If there was anyone in the gathering that could have cast stones on her, it was Jesus; he was the most righteous, sinless son of God. Yet He graciously forgives her saying, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.” Instead of a message of condemnation, it was a message of joy. In another instance, after Jesus preached, a woman in the crowd says, “Blessed is the womb that bore you and the breasts that gave you suck”. Good Christian peaching that speaks the same message as spoken by the blood of Jesus will receive a similar response of blessing and joy. People will say “God bless you. I’m thankful that you are a preacher. Thanks for sharing the truth of the gospel.” But when preachers speak contrary to the what the blood of Jesus speaks, they will elicit an opposite kind of response, “Woe to you”.
THE BLOOD OF JESUS GIVES YOU VICTORY OVER SATAN
… the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony…
The job of the devil is to accuse and condemn the believer day and night. Jesus has put and end to that condemnation. The believer can overcome satan by understanding the work of the shed blood of Jesus on the Cross. You can have absolute victory over satan by claiming the blood of Jesus, believing and speaking what the blood of Jesus has done, and standing on what the blood of Jesus has done. (Learn more about this here.)
THE BLOOD OF JESUS SPEAKS PRESERVATION, CONFIRMATION, PURIFICATION, SANCTIFICATION, AND ACCEPTANCE AND ACCESS
We already learnt what the blood of sprinkling typified in the Old Testament. The blood sprinkled on their doorways on the Passover gave them preservation from death. The blood of Jesus offers us the same preservation. The blood covenant gives us confirmation of God’s promises. The blood of Jesus not only forgives past sins, but also purifies us from sin every day of our life and gives us power to live victoriously over sin. By the blood of Jesus, we are sanctified and set apart for His purposes. The blood of Jesus makes us acceptable by our Holy God and gives us bold access into His presence. (Learn more about these five attributes here.)
THE BLOOD OF JESUS SPEAKS HOLINESS AND LOVE, JUSTICE AND GRACE, TRUTH AND MERCY
The blood of Jesus combines holiness and love, justice and grace, truth and mercy. If we look at only the holiness of God, we as sinful humans, can never approach Him. But because He’s also love, He makes a provision for us to approach Him. He does not waiver off His principles; instead He send His own son to fulfill His law of atonement for our sins. That shows us His love for us. Similarly, God’s justice implies that we should bear the full consequence of sin – death. Instead, because He is gracious to us, He made Jesus bear the consequence. Similarly, we need not choose between truth and mercy; it is both truth and mercy that have caused Jesus to shed His blood on the cross for us to give us eternal life.
Do not refuse Him who speaks. – Hebrews 12:25
Don’t neglect to listen to what the blood of Jesus says. Listen to it because it strengthens and emboldens you. It empowers your faith and makes you lift up your head. Guilt and condemnation take away your peace of mind and prevent you from having a close relationship with God. Are you enjoying yourself? Are you at peace? Are you able to rejoice in God for what He has done? Do you believe that God has forgiven your sins? If you really believe in the power of the blood of Jesus, you will have peace, joy and victory. That is why this truth is important. The more you go into this truth about the blood of Jesus, the more your head will lift up. There is nothing to hang your head in shame about. You have every reason to lift up your head, because Jesus is your saviour.