The Jewish Torah says that 'life is in the blood' (Lev. 17:11). We, of course, know this now -- and that's why we give blood rather than practice blood-letting. God knew that our blood is life long before we did! Blood within us is life. Blood spilled is brutal and gruesome. From the earliest age, we know that blood is supposed to stay in us (no doubt the reason my children freak out when they see red).
God created life-giving blood to flow through our veins, but we have chosen violence. Adam and Eve's own son was the first to draw another's blood, and the history of the world ever since has been violent. God himself met the violence of the world with violence when his Son Jesus bled out on the cross. Yes, spilled blood is gruesome, but in this case it is profoundly life-giving.
Exodus 12 tells the story of the Passover. Below are a few things that stand out to me as I read it:
Cleansing: The people were told to use Hyssop to spread the blood on the doorposts for a reason. Hyssop was used for cleansing and purification purposes throughout history, and it is commonly referenced in the Old Testament in cleansing rituals. It even made an appearance -- not a coincidence -- at the crucifixion of Jesus when the Roman soldier offered Jesus a drink from a sponge attached to a branch of -- you guessed it -- hyssop. Their homes were their temples, and God wanted them cleansed.
Covering: The home is a sacred place. Life and faith is nurtured there, and the blood on the doorposts marked each home for God's protection and covering. The LORD told Moses, "When I see the blood, I will pass over you." We are safe 'under the blood'. He is our covering. In the same way he provided skins of animals to cover Adam and Eve, the blood of Jesus covers our shame.
Commemoration: Before the miracle of the Passover happened, God told his people to forever commemorate (remember) what he was going to do. The Passover has become an annual observance of God's provision. Jesus told us to do the same thing when he held the Passover meal with his disciples, breaking the matzah saying, "Take and eat; this is my body." We have to remember what God has done for us! Write those things down when you experience the presence of God in your life. We must remember who we are! We must remember Whose we are! We must remember what the LORD has done!
Cruelty: The first-born were struck dead that night in all the households where there was no covering. Some say this paints a cruel picture of God (we love to judge God). We get it backwards, though. It paints a cruel picture of humanity that has rebelled against God. We enslave. We kill. We destroy. We rebel. We refuse God. The Passover isn't about God's cruelty toward Egypt; it is about God's protection and provision for those who love and fear him.
Yes, blood spilled is brutal and gruesome. That became all the more clear to us this week as a 40-year old man was accidentally shot just behind our home. But when we look at the blood of Jesus, all we see is love, love, love! Under the blood, we are cleansed and covered. This week has reminded me that we are continually confronted with the brutality of life lived outside of the will of God.
Wouldn't it be good to embrace God's offer of saving grace through Jesus?