"And they went to a place which was called Gethsemane; and He said to His disciples, "Sit here, while I pray." And He took with him Peter and James and John [see The Inner Circle], and began to be greatly distressed and troubled. And He said to them, "My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch." And going a little farther, He fell on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from Him. And He said, "Abba, Father, all things are possible to Thee; remove this cup from Me; yet not what I will, but what Thou wilt." (Mark 14:32-36 RSV)
Jesus Christ knew that He was the Messiah, the "Lamb of God" (John 1:29, see also John The Baptist). And yet, knowing what awaited Him in a few hours, since He was as human as anyone else, before or since (Hebrews 2:17, 4:15), He asked The Father to relieve Him of the need to actually go through with it. Ironically, He prayed so hard that "His sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground" (Luke 22:44 KJV). He asked three times, in deep and sorrowful prayer, but God's answer was that it must be carried through. Why? Why did Jesus have to actually shed His blood as a sacrifice for humanity?
Life, Blood and Justice
Right from the earliest times, as God decreed (God doesn't care what any differing human definition may be), blood was equated with life:
"For the life of every creature is the blood of it" (Leviticus 17:14 RSV)
"Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for God made man in His own image." (Genesis 9:6 RSV)
The Penalty of Sin Is Death
When humans became sinners, they became subject to the penalty of sin, which is death:
"Behold, the man has become like one of Us, knowing good and evil; and now, lest he put forth his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever, therefore The Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden" (Genesis 3:22-23 RSV)
"you are dust, and to dust you shall return" (Genesis 3:19 RSV)
"For the wages of sin is death" (Romans 6:23 RSV)
Jesus Christ Paid The Death Penalty For Us, By His Shed Blood
"with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. He was destined before the foundation of the world but was made manifest at the end of the times for your sake" (1 Peter 1:19-20 RSV)
"for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins" (Matthew 26:28 RSV)
"But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water" (John 19:34 RSV) (see How Did Jesus Christ Die?)
Old Testament Sacrifices Were Symbolic Of The Messiah
"But when Christ appeared as a High Priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent, not made with hands, that is, not of this creation, He entered once for all into the Holy Place, taking not the blood of goats and calves but His own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. For if the sprinkling of defiled persons with the blood of goats and bulls and with the ashes of a heifer sanctifies for the purification of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, Who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, purify your conscience from dead works to serve the living God."
"Therefore He is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred which redeems them from the transgressions under the first covenant."
"For where a will is involved, the death of the one who made it must be established. For a will takes effect only at death, since it is not in force as long as the one who made it is alive. Hence even the first covenant was not ratified without blood. For when every commandment of the law had been declared by Moses to all the people, he took the blood of calves and goats, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, saying, "This is the blood of the covenant which God commanded you." And in the same way he sprinkled with the blood both the tent and all the vessels used in worship. Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins."
"Thus it was necessary for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these rites, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. For Christ has entered, not into a sanctuary made with hands, a copy of the true one, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the Presence of God on our behalf. Nor was it to offer Himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the Holy Place yearly with blood not his own [see The Day Of Atonement]; for then He would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, He has appeared once for all at the end of the age to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. And just as it is appointed for men to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time [see The Return Of Jesus Christ], not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for Him." (Hebrews 9:11-28 RSV)
Fact Finder: At Christ's Return, will He be wearing a "robe dipped in blood"?
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This Week's Bible Quiz
Which Book of the Bible follows:
8. 2 John?
For the answers to this September 11 2001 quiz, see the Bible Quiz Answers Page