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Bible Commentaries

Expositor's Dictionary of Texts

Leviticus 17

Verses 1-16

The Blood of Christ (for Good Friday and Easter)

Leviticus 17:11

The thoughts of Easter and of Good Friday must keep close together. They are, of course, at first sight, poles apart. And yet they are two sides of one great event. Consider this by help which God Himself has given us in the Old Testament.

The precious Blood of Christ, that certainly is a Good Friday thought, but yet that Blood is at the centre of our Easter feast. It is the power of eternal lite. In it are washed the robes of the redeemed. The text from the old law gives us the clue to understanding this.

I. In the sacrifices of the Jewish Temple, meant to prepare for and point to Christ, the Blood was the most important thing. It was offered to God; with it the holy place and the altar were sprinkled. With it the leper was touched. The high priest once a year carried it into the holiest before the mercy seat. It was the symbol of God's own presence. And the reason of this was in the belief that the Blood is the life: 'For the life of the flesh is in the blood'. To us carnage and blood-shedding mean the same, and speak only of the ghastly incidents of death. To the Jew blood-shedding meant release of life. The innocent animal gave its life for a high and Divinely ordered purpose. A wonderful mystery indeed. It declared the power of life that had passed through death. The ox or the goat could only die in its own time, but there was one way in which it could, as we see, give its life before its time by its owner's free will and at his cost. The animal stood, and was at least partly understood by the Jew to stand, for the man that offered it, and then the meaning begins to come clear. The life in man must die with the death of the body, and see corruption, and be no more, unless some stainless life for the Temple victims had to be without spot or blemish could be freely given up to pass out through death as an offering to God, and then it would bless and reconcile and purify. This it is which we, in its wonderful fulfilment, have been allowed to see.

Good Friday shows the slaughter, the inhuman and cruel murder of the Holy One and the Just. It is a day of tragedy and gloom. All the same, there was done there the noblest thing ever done on earth, and it shines with glory amidst the darkness. For the life slaughtered was also a life laid down. The death which darkens the earth is also the coming out of the life, free, powerful, new, and quickening, as the glory of the Resurrection follows to prove. The death had to be, but it is the life that remains, and it sprinkles, and cleanses, and quickens. Unlike the coarse natural blood of the old sacrifices, this life can still, in rite and symbol, give itself as blood to be drunk and to be consumed. 'The Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, which was shed for thee, preserve thy body and soul unto everlasting life.' It enters into us, and we live with a double life, our own, and His, and in the power of that life we can approach to God, having boldness to enter into the holiest by the Blood of Jesus.

II. We have here the truth, at once severe and splendid, which Good Friday and Easter should leave with us. We have, like the animals slain of old in the Temple, our natural life in us which must die. If we live by the flesh, we must die; but the Cross shows us a way of using death which makes it to be a power of life. We can make a sacrifice of life. It has its opportunities and chances, its dangers and risks, its sorrows and joys, its temptations, and through all we can carry the spirit of sacrifice. So we can do in small ways that which Jesus did through life, and completed on Calvary. We can mortify our members which are on the earth, we can die unto sin, we can be united with Jesus by His death. But such dying is really life. Like the slaughter of the victim, it sets free the blood which is the true life; like the sacrifice of the Cross, it opens into the glory of the Resurrection. We are to reckon ourselves alive, not with the old life that must die, but alive unto God in Christ Jesus with the new life that cannot die. That is the mystery of Easter, gathering up all the sorrow and severity of Good Friday into its joy, and it sheds a glory over all life. This present life is not a thing merely to be despised and cast away. The body of the victim slain, slain to yield the blood, was not treated as a worthless carcass to be cast aside, but as holy food upon which the offerer might feed. The Body of the Redeemer, from which the Blood was shed upon the Cross, was a holy thing, and when He makes His Sacrament, it is not of the Blood only that He takes, but also: 'The Body of our Lord Jesus Christ, which was given for thee, preserve thy body and soul unto everlasting life'. The earthly life which has in it the spirit of sacrifice, gains already on earth a fuller strength and truer beauty. Thus it is, too, that even the bodies of Christians partake of the glory. The spirituality which despises them is not the spirituality of Scripture or of Christ. Our bodily natures may be sanctified by the sacrifice of disciplined, sober, and thankful use as well as by the sacrifice of surrender. It must be for each as God appoints, and He calls.

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Bibliographical Information
Nicoll, William Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Leviticus 17". Expositor's Dictionary of Text. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/edt/leviticus-17.html. 1910.