In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.
In the last half of Hebrews 9, the writer of Hebrews continues to reflect on the significance of Jesus’ sacrifice. One thing that stands out in this chapter is how often the word “blood” appears. The word “blood” is used 12 times in this chapter, more times than any other chapter in the Bible except Leviticus 4. For those of us who aren’t accustomed to sacrifices, all this talk of blood can seem disgusting, if not disturbing. What was the significance of blood and why did the writer emphasize it so much here?
To understand the significance of blood, we must first understand how profoundly important blood is to God. Blood is sacred in God’s eyes. In fact, God gave the ancient Israelites strict protocols for how they were supposed to deal with blood. They weren’t supposed to drink blood. They couldn’t eat meat containing blood. They had to discard of blood with care and dispose of it in specific locations.
The explanation God gave to the Israelites as to why they were supposed to treat blood with such great care was because “. . . the life of a creature is in the blood” (Leviticus 17:11). Life is so important to God that blood, which carries life, is equally important and requires great care.
Blood is so important to God that we can be certain that He would not have asked for it to be offered through sacrifices for trivial reasons. God asked for blood to be offered because only something as sacred as blood could account for something as gravely serious as sin. As much as God cares about life and blood, the carrier of life, He also cares about right and wrong. He can’t look away from or ignore sin. Sin has to be dealt with and blood is the solution. He told the Israelites in Leviticus 17:11, “I have given [blood] to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life.”
This helps us appreciate the significance of blood and helps us understand why the writer of Hebrews makes such a big deal about Jesus’ blood. Our own sin separates us from God and creates an insurmountable obstacle that must be dealt with. Through the offering of Jesus’ superior blood, we have a solution that cleanses us of these sins from now through eternity.
15 For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance— now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.
16 In the case of a will, it is necessary to prove the death of the one who made it, 17 because a will is in force only when somebody has died; it never takes effect while the one who made it is living. 18 This is why even the first covenant was not put into effect without blood. 19 When Moses had proclaimed every command of the law to all the people, he took the blood of calves, together with water, scarlet wool and branches of hyssop, and sprinkled the scroll and all the people. 20 He said, “This is the blood of the covenant, which God has commanded you to keep.” 21 In the same way, he sprinkled with the blood both the tabernacle and every- thing used in its ceremonies. 22 In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.
23 It was necessary, then, for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these sacrifices, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. 24 For Christ did not enter a sanctuary made with human hands that was only a copy of the true one; he entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God’s presence. 25 Nor did he enter heaven to offer himself again and again, the way the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood that is not his own. 26 Otherwise Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But he has appeared once for all at the cul- mination of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself. 27 Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, 28 so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.
Hebrews 9:20 references the “blood of the covenant.” What covenant does Jesus’ blood confirm?
The greatest symbol of life is blood, and in Hebrews 9:22, it says, “without the shedding of blood there is not forgiveness.” Why do you think forgiveness requires the shedding of blood?
All people die physically, but Christ died so that we would not have to die spiritually. When we decide to surrender our lives to Christ, we can have confidence that He has forgiven us for our past sin and has given us the Holy Spirit to help us deal with present sin. What sins are you presently struggling with that are separating you from a deeper relationship with God? Are you ready to confess and surrender them today?