The Symbol of Blood in Christianity & Upcoming Easter Special

Hi, friends. I want to discuss the significance of blood to Christianity and preview my next idea for the “Story Behind” series. “Story Behind” posts examine the authorship and history of hymns. (Photo Source)

When I started the “Story Behind” posts last Christmas, I chose three Christmas hymns that were widely familiar. The posts would likely get more clicks if I continue choosing the most iconic hymns. But I’m a bit of a weirdo who likes challenges.

So, I want to stick with themes in the future, and this year’s is blood. Easter themes might include blood, the cross, sacrifice, etc. Themes for Christmas might include poor birth for a King, spreading the good news, etc. The posts will be accompanied by scripture and a brief devotional.

There were many songs to choose from, but next week, I’m featuring two older hymns and one newer gospel song. Due to abundant options, themes will be repeated in future years.

Without further ado, let’s briefly delve into the significance of blood in Christianity.

In the Old Testament–when God ruled Israel (though they rebelled a lot), before Jesus was born–Jews sacrificed animals for God. [Note: they also offered riches like jewels.] Their sacrifices reflected repentance of their sins. God asked his chosen people to sacrifice their best, which makes sense if we assess what a true sacrifice is–not giving up something you barely care about but giving up something important. (Blood Covenant: Exodus 24: 5-8, Sacrifice Standard: Deuteronomy 15: 21)

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The Passover is cherished by Christians but even more by Jews. In Exodus, Moses was sent by God to free the Jews from Egyptian slavery, and since the Pharaoh repeatedly refused to let them go, plagues came down on the Egyptians. In the final plague that forced the Pharaoh’s hand, an angel of death killed every firstborn son in the land. The sign instructed by God that saved the Jews from this plague was spreading the blood of a lamb over the door. Hence the name Passover–the angel passed over the Jews. (Exodus 12)

Christians believe that God sent Jesus as the final sacrifice. Jesus’ crucifixion in the New Testament brings the significance of blood in the OT full circle. The blood of lambs protected the Jews in the Passover; Jesus is “the Lamb” now. As the lamb symbolizes purity, so Jesus was the purest human who ever lived. God’s chosen people used to sacrifice their best animals to repent; with Jesus, God sent a perfect sacrifice and offered salvation for anyone with a willing heart. (Hebrews 10: 11-18)

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Today, Christians practice the sacrament of Communion to remember the sacrifice. Before Jesus died, he shared a final meal with his disciples. He took the bread and said, “This is my body which is broken for you; as often as you eat this, do so in remembrance of me.” He took the wine and said, “This is my blood poured out for the new covenant for the forgiveness of sins.” (Luke 22: 14-20)

Hymns that reference blood are disappearing from some denominations. I imagine the rationale is, “We should focus on living in the Spirit, not dwell on the death of Jesus/ We should be worshiping God instead of fixating on symbols like blood/ The blood references verge on hell-fire-brimstone messages.” I think recalling the significance of blood throughout the Bible is important because people should understand the intricacies of their own beliefs, even when they don’t fit perfectly into our sanitary, pious, modern sense of religion.

Thanks for reading! Do you like Christian music that uses symbols like blood and the cross? Stay tuned for three posts the week leading up to Easter (April 1st this year).

12 comments

  1. I like “Power in the Blood” and “Nothing but the Blood” but I know some people are squeamish about the Blood and especially the crucifixion. They should be, the heartbreak and discomfort it causes us should remind us of the heartbreak and discomfort our sins cause God

    Liked by 3 people

  2. I’m super literal, so I’m pro blood, too. I can remember vividly the first time I deliberately focused my mind on Jesus’ sacrifice. I was alone in my car on my way home from church, and I had to pull over for obvious reasons. I was far younger at the time and didn’t feel worthy. I’ve since recognized the fact that it doesn’t matter if I feel worthy. The gift is still mine if I accept it.

    I haven’t thought about this for a while as I’ve been struggling bitterly with Christianity for years. I can’t accept atheism with the necessary certainty, so I keep my ears and eyes open while I grapple. My indoctrination was fundamentalist in nature, and being autistic also affects how I think… I’m repulsed by lukewarm when it comes to religion and feel I must be all in or all out if that makes sense. 🤪

    I’ve been aware for some time I fail miserably as an atheist. I don’t belong to any church, but I’m beginning to suspect I may be Methodist as I learn about it. I was Lutheran, but my family got kicked out of that church when I was 8; (the last straw was when my brother swallowed the Sunday School goldfish on a dare.)

    I joined a fundamentalist Christian church when I was in the Army and learned a lot during that time. I quit when the pastor asked a member to stop attending. He was HIV positive and was dating another member. I was so offended by this, (but I was around 20 and didn’t ask my pastor to help me understand.)

    When I moved to Germany, I rejoined the same church, but then quit again after visiting the Dachau concentration camp memorial. You can see the pattern. It took me a long time to see it, though. I’m listening and paying attention because of people like you, Lily. And my big sister, and others. Sorry for the book!! 💜💜

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I understand how you must have felt that day. It’s still hard for me to make it through a Palm Sunday service with dry eyes at our church because we literally act out some of the story with scripts, and it’s heart-breaking…the man who loved us more than anyone being whipped mercilessly, scorned and mocked, nailed to a tree. When whoever plays Jesus reaches the “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” after he hangs there for a while, I’m overwhelmed by emotion.

      I agree that religion makes no sense if it’s lukewarm, but that speaks to a big issue with what I call “Americanized Christianity,” where “being a Christian” involves little to none of the risk or calling it used to have. Not saying it’s a bad thing that we have freedom of religion and don’t have to die for our faith, but even small risks/callings like defending someone everyone is shit talking or approaching someone who looks homeless or forgiving someone who made us mad…a lot of Americanized Christians won’t even do those things. And it makes no sense to me. Must be some powerful cognitive dissonance. It’s like they think a title buys a ticket to heaven, yet truly faithful Christians are more worried about what they’re doing for God’s kingdom now rather than fixating on heaven.

      I see your pattern of faith and doubt, and it’s totally relatable. Whether for personal reasons like the loss of a loved one or a bad church experience or for broader reasons like why is there evil in the world, many have fallen away from faith. I don’t have all the answers, nor does any Christian, though I’m sure a lot think they do, lol. I thought of a comparison for how I see Christianity versus non-believers when I was discussing the Bible with my boyfriend (not quite Christian but won’t claim the title atheist)…I think non-believers view it like a puzzle, so unless all the pieces of the puzzle can be identified, the puzzle is incomplete. In other words, “If you can’t prove or adequately explain every question I could have, I won’t believe it.” I view it like a Rubik’s cube…I’m in the process of figuring it out–I know some things but not everything–I know there is a solution, even though I haven’t solved it.

      I’m grateful for you, Alison. Your comment made my week. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you for liking my blog at evelynmmaxwell.com. And thanks for tackling the topic of blood. Apparently blood was widely believed necessary to please God by several religions. It represented life. Both in the birth of babies and in death by injury.
    The prophet Micah thought God would be pleased in a different way by how we lived and early in Jesus ministry, God said he was pleased with Jesus. My question then is blood sacrifice to please men or God?

    Liked by 1 person

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