Monday, March 21, 2011

A Splash of Blood

I was walking to work one day, and I noticed something on the sidewalk. I had actually seen it before, but never attached any significance to identifying it.
It was a stain left by some dark liquid that had splashed and dried. There was a trail of drops leading away from it back up the sidewalk for a few feet where it ended. It was interrupted by a footprint that cut across the trail. I had seen it for a few days prior to this, but in my hurry to get to my desk each morning I had given it almost no thought. Why today it caught my eye I have no idea, but as I passed it again this day I noticed the color of the substance. It was a deep, reddish brown.
I stopped in shocked realization that I was looking at blood!
How many people had walked past or over it every day and given it no notice? How and why had this that had passed through someone’s veins been so haphazardly spilled? It was no small amount. If I had a wound that allowed that great a loss I would surely seek help with it. There was no way to tell how this occurred, and yet my mind called up violent images that seemed unavoidable. How could blood be spilled after all without violence in such a public place without edge or forceful impact? And then I had to ask how having spilled could it be so easily ignored, as I had in fact done? How could I not have seen it for what it was?
It had to follow, of course, that my thoughts would lead me to Someone else’s blood, also shed with violence, but violence that ended in glorious purpose. And just as so many of us had walked over this splash on the sidewalk, how many have waded through rivers of the stuff that rage across our lives grasping for our attention only to be studiously ignored in an effort to maintain our self determined path at cross purposes to the Truth? What does it take for God to get my attention?
Just who am I living for anyway?
In the process of the Hebrew sacrificial rites that ended when the temple in Jerusalem was destroyed, one of the final acts was the pouring of the “drink offering”. Thus Paul, when he felt his death was near, wrote that he was being “poured out as a drink offering” (2Tim. 4:6). But just as Christ was the final sacrifice, so His blood is the final blood shed for our redemption, as He said at the last supper , “Drink from it all of you; for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” (Matt. 26:27b-28) And yet as final as that act is the flow continues at whatever rate is necessary to cover the sins of this world, for where sin is grace abounds.
What all this means is that we must let go, dive in, “go with the flow”, drowning and dying to live again.
And it all started one night long ago in Jerusalem.
Satan called upon Death, his most powerful weapon, to finally put a stop to the machinations of grace which Christ had begun. Death was a warrior at whose feet everyone had ultimately fallen. Death took Christ up in his giant fist and began to squeeze the life out of Him.
This Blood, this stuff of eternal life began to flow one drop at a time.
The whip scourges the smooth skin of Christ’s back.
Death is confused by this sudden pain he has never felt before, caused by the touch of the blood of this Lamb.
The crown of thorns is beaten down upon His brow.
Death begins to squeeze harder and harder trying to stanch the flow.
The nails are driven through Christ’s wide open hands.
Drip. Drip.
His body is taken down from the cross.
Death has used up all his strength to vanquish the enemy of Hell.
Drip. Drip. Drip.
The stone is rolled away.
Death collapses, defeated, destroyed, a useless and empty husk.
Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip.
Death has himself died, and from his lifeless grasp Christ has risen!
“O death, where is your victory?”(1Cor. 15:55)
Thomas places his doubting fingers in Christ’s open wounds.
The apostles live and die for the life He gave them.
And as every river starts with just a trickle so this trickle becomes a torrent raging across time that no force of darkness can ever hope to stop, divert or slow.
“…this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many…”
He left a trail of blood that you can miss only after you have seen it first, and actively choose to turn away, but the Word was made flesh and He refuses to be ignored!
God could never again be relegated to the back of our minds as a mere “concept” anymore. He created a hallowed ground in every human heart; a holy of holies where only He can tread. His presence there suddenly made one thing obvious:
A choice must be made.
Always a choice.
Live or die.
You have a 50/50 chance of survival if you’re merely looking at the odds, but if you choose life it’s a 100% guarantee.
It seems a simple choice, but we make it difficult when we think we have a lot to lose. We try to hang on to what we have by shedding our own blood to pay the price for our freedom, but all I have is as nothing against the payment of this debt. And the only thing I have to show for my efforts are the scars left from where I’ve ironically slashed my own wrists trying to save myself.
Every year we celebrate Easter. Like many other things the true purpose of this occasion has been overshadowed by meaningless customs involving eggs, chocolate bunnies and new hats.
But some of us will remember.
I tend to look at it as two distinct events; His Passion and His resurrection. In reality I should see them as one. His death and resurrection were a single process that qualified Him as the complete sacrifice once and for all. Both events had to occur in order for His life to be enough to tip the scales in my favor.
Some only see the inside of a church at Christmas and Easter, and I suppose if you are only going to come twice a year those are the times for it. But I have to wonder if you aren’t hearing the same message both times.
At Christmas you hear the announcement of the angelic host:
He Lives!
Throughout Christ’s entire life on earth He prepares us for the show of strength that only He could perform. The one thing we take most for granted in Christ’s existence. For the Point of Easter, the Bottom Line, the Final Act is really the same that we hear at Christmas.
The inevitable conclusion of Christ is this same angelic message at Easter:
He Lives!

And as we come and sit on the banks of this never ending river of cleansing, bloody Grace, as we begin to comprehend that the supply never runs out we realize:
He Lives!
©Dan Bode 2005

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Ash Wednesday

The ashes of Your entry
Lie cold upon my brow.
The Sacrifice once made,
Is so quickly forgotten
Even as your glory burns before me.
Smoke by day and fire by night
I swear I will not forget and yet,
And yet as I walk the path
And see the charred remains of past ambitions
And tyrannical needs
I find myself walking on my own power,
And not on Yours.
My memory fails, and so
The sacrifice must be made once again.
My horror at the pain You feel as the consequence
Of my sin is suffered once again.
I stand in awe at Your resurrection, once again –
And I am reborn.
©Dan Bode 1999