Hands That Bleed
Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
At our Lord’s trial, the mob cried out about Jesus, “His blood be on us and on our children!” Most accomplices to murder have no desire to have the victim’s blood on the hands or their consciences, so this cry is particularly stunning. Who actually wants to be covered with blood? But when someone is filled with so much hate—a hatred multiplied by the mentality of the mob—sometimes it’s worth it to be covered in blood. The crowd, fueled with the hatred of the religious leaders of the Jews, certainly thought they could handle the consequences of killing their King.
But blood is a powerful thing. Moses tells us that the blood of Abel cried out from the ground to the Lord. God told the Israelites not to consume the blood of any creature they killed, for “the life of all flesh is its blood.” And the mob, the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob who were gathered to celebrate the Feast of the Passover, knew the power of blood. The very Passover they were in Jerusalem to celebrate was a celebration of the blood of the Passover lamb. The lamb’s blood marked their homes as the homes of the children of Israel; seeing that blood, the angel of death would spare the firstborn sons of Israel. They knew the power of blood; their ancestors had slain “prophets, wise men, and scribes.” And now they wanted to see blood spill from their King of Kings.
Blood is, indeed, a powerful thing. The blood of the Son of God is exceptionally powerful. If Abel’s sinful blood was able to cry out to the Lord, how much louder would be the cry of Christ’s innocent blood to His Father? The farmer Cain was cursed from the earth, and his toil would no longer bring forth fruit; how much more dreadful would be the punishment of those with the blood of Christ on their hands? And we are not innocent of the blood of Christ, either, for our every sin gives out a cry for the blood of Christ to rest upon us and our children as well, as surely as if we ourselves had pierced our Lord’s hands, feet, head, and side.
The Lord allowed His blood to spill from His innocent hands. But the blood of Christ is not merely powerful to condemn the unfaithful. For the repentant, for those who realize by faith the power of the blood of Jesus upon their hands, that blood is a cleansing flood. When the Apostle John was given a vision of heaven, he was blessed to see the true power of that blood. The elder stood before the throne of heaven, pointing John’s attention to the white-robed worshipers, the saints singing praises to the Lamb of God. He told John, “These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” They have been clothed in the spotless baptismal robe of the righteousness of Christ. They stand before the throne and sing praises to the Lamb eternally.
The old adage says, “Be careful what you wish for; you just might get it.” The crowd screamed for blood. Only by the gracious and merciful power of God could such a dreadful prayer be heard and answered as a mighty blessing to His children. The children of Israel wanted the blood of Jesus to spill? The Father allowed that blood to be spilled. The thorn-encircled brow of Jesus spilled blood. The hands and feet of Jesus spilled blood. Blood and water flowed forth from the pierced side of Jesus. And just as the Father promised it would be, “the life of all flesh is blood,” for the blood of Jesus is the life of the Church. The blood and water flowing forth from the side of Jesus are the sign of the Sacraments: water with the Word of God washing us clean in Holy Baptism, and blood with the body of Christ feeding us in the Holy Supper. His blood is, indeed, upon us and upon our children. And His righteous blood, flowing from His piercéd side, His thorn-encircled brow, His feet, and His hands, is our life. In the name of the Father and of the Son (+) and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
The peace of God which passes all understanding will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus always. Amen.