Meditations in 1 Peter : 12 : The Blood of Christ
1 Pet 1:18,19 For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.
These verses are packed full of truths but some of the language is not that used in modern common usage. Moreover it covers a subject that receives the scorn and ire of modern atheists. We need to examine it carefully, therefore.
First it is all about redemption or about redeeming things. This is the language of the pawnbroker which only a small percentage of the population tends to know about. When you pawn something you give it to the pawnbroker for safe keeping who in return loans you money. When you pay back the money plus interest he gives you your article back and you are said to have redeemed it. Thus it is paying to get back something. In the Old Testament it was also used to refer to something being paid instead of another penalty. Coming out of Egypt Israel were told, “Redeem every firstborn among your sons.” (Ex 13:13) i.e. give a lamb to act as a sign of their lives having being spared in the Passover. Within the Law we find in respect of a careless owner of a bull known to be dangerous that has killed someone, “the owner also must be put to death. However, if payment is demanded of him, he may redeem his life by paying whatever is demanded.” (Ex 21:29,30) i.e. the family of the person killed may spare the bull owner’s life by taking money instead from him.
The picture that Peter paints for us is of them having been redeemed or purchased from “the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers.” i.e. they were slaves to the Law and to the traditions of their forefathers which did little to help them and had not resulted in a good relationship with God. No, this isn’t the traditional picture of redeeming something using silver or gold or money. No, this is something very different, because we are talking about our lives being redeemed from Sin, from Satan and from hell. We deserved to be left to our own devices in our sin, a prey to Satan and bound for hell, but God didn’t leave us in that state.
No this redemption, even if we don’t really understand our own sin and our own need to be saved, stands out as something completely different and its very difference should speak to us about our need. Peter speaks about “the precious blood of Christ” and it is this sort of language that raises the ire of the atheist who sees it as bloodthirsty and primitive! Well, Paul did say that, “the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing.” (1 Cor 1:18) and that this was “a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles.” (1 Cor 1:23). Of course it seems foolish to the natural mind yet, as a pastor, I have found nothing else that actually satisfies the person who is racked by their own guilt. Psychologists and therapists seem helpless but when they are told that Christ died for their sins, that and that alone brings gratefulness and peace!
References to Christ’s ‘blood’ come again and again in the New Testament: “In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.” (Lk 22:20) and “Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood.” (Acts 20:28) and “God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood.” (Rom 3:25) and “Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him!” (Rom 5:9) and “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins.” (Eph 1:7) and “now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ.” (Eph 2:13) and “For God was pleased to…reconcile to himself all things…, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.” (Col 1:19,20)
If that language is too familiar to you, substitute the word ‘life’ or ‘life poured out’ for blood in each of those verses so we have, “This cup is the new covenant in my life” and so on. It is all about Christ giving his life for ours. Think on it, wonder about it and give thanks for that wonder that God’s love should be shown to us in such a manner.