Washed in the Blood of the Lamb

When I was in England I got to…

  • Meet with a client at the Tower of London
  • See Big Ben
  • Ride in one of their funky taxis with the lead singer of the Toadies (a really nice guy)
  • Have a conversation on the Tube with a drunk Irishman (also a really nice guy, but more of a wild-card to talk to ☺)
  • And many other things…

I also learned the origin of a couple of common sayings…

One for the road came from people being given a beer before being beheaded

On the wagon came from when a prisoner had completed a pub-crawl of sorts, and now had to get on the wagon to be carted to his hanging

When meanings change

How many times have you heard those expressions? Did you ever connect them with someone being whacked?

[ These are quick sermon notes…not cleaned-up…and missing the "extras" that come out in the audio (which is available here). All quotes are from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted. ]

See how meanings change over time?

Now, in these cases there is no great loss…because as long as people understand the sayings for what they now mean, there is no confusion.

How about with Christianize though? Let's try an example…

How many here can say a hearty amen to I want to be "washed by the blood of the Lamb"?

[ Note people's reactions…especially those of the children. ]

What does that really mean? Let's look at the Scripture it probably derives from:

[ Read Revelation 7:13-17 ]

Does that help? Although I think we can all agree we would like to be in the select group who have "washed [our] robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb," this isn't the only place in Scripture where blood-talk seems like a limited metaphor—something that could easily be misunderstood…

Scripture talks of

  • Jesus being "put forward as a propitiation by his blood" (Romans 3:25)
  • Us being "justified by [Jesus'] blood" (Romans 5:9)
  • Us being "brought near by the blood of Christ" (Ephesians 2:13)
  • That when we take communion it is "participation in the blood of Christ" (1 Corinthians 1:16)
  • That we were "ransomed…with the precious blood of Christ" (1 Peter 1:18-19)
  • And so on…

So much blood…but what does it mean?

Blood is a metaphor for Christ's work on the cross

Short version is that the blood…Christ's blood…is a metaphor for what Jesus did on the cross. He shed His blood because of our sins…

He shed His blood so we could have atonement!

[ Can I get an "Amen"?! ]

Hmmm…but now that we know what "blood" signifies…do we know what "atonement" means?

[ Ask the crowd for definitions. ]

Before we answer that, let's have a quick refresh of my previous sermon…

First, what went wrong? [ Breakdown of trust. ]

Did it start here with us? [ No. ]

What is the solution? [ Restore the trust. ]

So…what is the definition of atonement?

[ Give the gigantic dictionary to a child to read the definition, noting that it must be right because the book is so large and commanding ☺. ]

Mac dictionary definition:

atonement |əˈtōnmənt|

noun

reparation for a wrong or injury : she wanted to make atonement for her husband's behavior.

• Religion reparation or expiation for sin : the High Priest offered the sacrifice as atonement for all the sins of Israel.

• ( the Atonement) Christian Theology the reconciliation of God and humankind through Jesus Christ.

ORIGIN early 16th cent. (denoting unity or reconciliation, esp. between God and man): from at one + -ment , influenced by medieval Latin adunamentum 'unity,' and earlier onement from an obsolete verb one [to unite.]

Atonement literally means "at-one-ment"…

And, unlike Larry's good way to think what "justify" means ("just as if we had never sinned"), "at-one-ment" isn't some playful definition…it literally means that.

Let's look at another Scripture, Colossians 1:19-20:

19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

What did Jesus accomplish with His blood? [ Made peace…reconciled. ]

What is the scope of that peace and reconciliation? [ Heaven and earth. ]

If that's not convincing enough, let's look at Ephesians 1:9-10:

9 making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

What did God do through Christ? [ Unite all things to Him. ]

What is the scope of that unity? [ Heaven and earth. ]

And, you may remember another Scripture I've previously mentioned, where Jesus said, "And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself" (John 12:32) — and the word "people" isn't in the Greek…just "all" (and the reason why the KJV puts "men" in that verse in italics).

If you'll bear with me, just one more reference (but a long one):

Ephesians 2:11-22

11 Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called "the uncircumcision" by what is called ​the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands— 12 remember ​that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were ​far off have been brought near ​by the blood of Christ. 14 For ​he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down t​in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility 15 by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, 16 and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. 17 And he came and ​preached peace to you who were ​far off and peace to those who were ​near. 18 For a​through him we both have access in c​one Spirit to the Father. 19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens,3 but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 ​built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, i​Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, 21 ​in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into l​a holy temple in the Lord. 22 In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by​4 the Spirit.

Notice some pretty important things in this selection?

  • We "were at one time separated from Christ"…"alienated"…"strangers"…"far off"
  • We "have been brought near by the blood of Christ" [ blood again ]
  • Jesus "has made us both one" [ at-one-ment ]
  • Jesus has "[killed] the hostility
  • Jesus "peached peace"
  • We "are no longer strangers and aliens" but are "fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God

Does that sound like "at-one-ment"?

Does that sound like "atonement"?

Of course…we all should give a hearty yes to both…but please don't forget the universal application of that Scripture…it was only the previous verse that said that Christ was "as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth."

God's plan, finished by Christ's work on the cross, wasn't just for us…there was trust to restore…to buttress…to cement…in the whole universe.

To wrap up I'd like to quote someone I have the honor of calling a friend, Graham Maxwell:

"There once was atonement throughout the universe, before the war began. Before there ever was sin in this universe there was atonement in the original, the first and ultimate meaning of that term. You see, way back in those days all of God's children trusted each other, all of them trusted their heavenly Father, and He in turn could safely trust in them. And where there is such mutual trust, and trustworthiness, there's peace, there's harmony, there's atonement, there's at-one-ment" (from "Jesus Talks About the Atonement" available at http://www.pineknoll.org/audio-resources?media_group=MMMISC&show_dropdown=0).

Do you trust God? Can He trust you? Can we trust each other? Do you want at-one-ment? Do you want atonement?

If you don't have at-one-ment, what are you waiting for?


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