Each Sunday at Kossuth Street Baptist Church, we are privileged to have a good-sized group of international students from various countries of the world in attendance at both the Connection Hour and the Worship Gathering. Some of our international friends are worshipping with us, while others are simply observing what takes place in these meetings. In other words, some have yet to know what it means to be “in Christ,” while others, by God’s grace and “to the praise of his glory” (Ephesians 1:12, 14), have already become followers of Jesus. Both are warmly welcome among us!
After a morning worship gathering recently, an international friend asked me: “Why do we sing so much about the blood of Jesus? That seems weird to me!” I don’t remember now exactly which song’s lyrics motivated this question. It might have been, “What can wash away my sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus!” Or it might have been, “My hope Is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.” Or perhaps it was: “Sealed my pardon with his blood, Hallelujah! What a Savior!” Or maybe it was this one: “And can it be that I should gain an interest in my Savior’s blood? Died He for me who caused his pain? For me, who Him to death pursued?”
No matter which song it was, through the years the Lord has used His gifted children to weave the truth of Scripture about the blood of Jesus into Christian hymns that are the fabric of the “sacrifice of praise” (Hebrews 13:15) offered back to Him as they are sung each week. While it may seem “weird” to those who are still observers, the precious truth of the blood of Jesus shed on behalf of anyone who will trust him is to be gloriously sung week after week by God’s people!
As we approach the celebration of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, it is good to stop and ponder the question my friend was sincerely asking that Sunday morning: “Why do we sing so much about the blood of Jesus?”
In writing to the Ephesian believers, the apostle Paul uses several phrases which help answer my friend’s question. These phrases are found in verses 7-8 of Ephesians 1: “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us…”
So why do we sing so much about the blood of Jesus in our weekly worship? As Paul expresses it in Ephesians, the believer has “redemption through his blood”! To appreciate the profound meaning of this phrase, we must understand the nature and consequence of sin.
Sin is not doing what God commands his creatures to do. “All have sinned,” the apostle Paul states in Romans 3:23. Each one of us falls short of the perfection demanded by God because of his holiness. There is not one of us in our natural state who can claim to be righteous before God. Sure, I can compare myself to others and always find someone who is more sinful than I am. In the sight of God, left to myself, I am guilty and separated from God.
Sin results in spiritual death: the natural state in which we all were born, and eternal separation from God. Sin results in physical death: separation from those we love because of pain and suffering and the loss of life. While we are still physically alive, sin enslaves: it is a cruel taskmaster that continually lies about the benefits delivered for crossing the threshold of temptation. And the thing is, I know that… and still fall for it over and over and over again. Sin steals joy: it brings heartache and pain into life in multiplied ways. Because of sin, without the intervention of the mercy and grace of God through the power of his Spirit, humans are in a godless and hopeless condition facing the just anger of God.
When we see the effect of sin on humanity (and we can’t help but see it in the brokenness that is all around us), we grow in our appreciation for that phrase in Ephesians 1:7: “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our tresspasses (sins).” Sin’s effects are profoundly devastating. However, the blood of Jesus is effectively liberating for anyone who will trust him. Weird as it may seem to the person who has yet to experience the forgiveness of sin, the blood of Jesus is God’s costly answer to the debt of his people’s sinfulness.
Upon deeper reflection, here are a few additional reasons why we sing so much about the blood of Jesus:
- God’s people sing about the blood of Jesus because the Bible reveals the essential necessity of it to be rightly related to our Creator (Romans 3:24-25).
- God’s people sing about the blood of Jesus because by it the church of God was purchased (Acts 20:25).
- God’s people sing about the blood of Jesus because before the foundation of the world, God devised a plan to save his people from sin through the shedding of the blood of Jesus (1 Peter 1:17-20).
- God’s people sing about the blood of Jesus because by his blood he has demonstrated his immense love for his people and freed them from their sins (Revelation 1:5).
- God’s people sing about the blood of Jesus because by it they are declared righteous in the sight of God (Romans 5:9).
As we remember the death of Jesus this evening at the Good Friday Service (6:00 pm), and as we celebrate on Resurrection Sunday (10:30 am) that death could not hold Jesus, our Savior, our Master, our King, let’s sing and rejoice together: “Sealed my pardon (forgiveness of my sin) with his blood? Hallelujah! What a Savior!”