THE PASSION, WHY SO MUCH BLOOD?
By Bill Sizemore
March 5, 2004
If you have seen the movie, it may be hard to believe, but "The Passion of the Christ," was probably not bloody enough. The real thing was probably worse.
In fact, there is an Old Testament prophecy, which predicted that the Messiah would be "marred" more than any other man. Sure, there is lots of blood in The Passion. It was very difficult to watch, but blood was what the death of Jesus was all about.
You see, there is one unifying principle, no, make that one unifying law, which connects the Old and New Testaments of the Bible. It is inescapable. That law reads as follows: Without the shedding of blood, there is no remission of sin.
No spilling of blood, no forgiveness of sin. Period. That is the heart of both Old Testament Judaism and New Testament Christianity. The concept may be repulsive to modernists, but it is an absolute, unbendable law from the beginning of the Bible to the end. Only blood can cleanse away sins.
From Adam's fig leaves, which were replaced by God with the skins of slain animals, to Cain's grain offerings, which were rejected by God, because there was no shedding of blood, to the countless animal sacrifices in the Tabernacle of Moses and the Temple of Solomon, right up to the crucifixion of Jesus, Who was the ultimate and final sacrifice, there is one unifying principle: The wages God requires for sin is death. If no blood is shed, then the sins remain. There is no other way to remove them.
If there would have been some other way to deal with sin, God surely would have provided it when Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, "Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me." God heard that prayer, and answered it, not by rescuing Him from the cross, but by sending an angel to strengthen Jesus and prepare Him for the unavoidable ordeal He was about to undertake.
The perfect love and perfect holiness of God required both that God's law be kept and that the Son of God pay the full penalty for manís sin with His own blood. To save sinful men and satisfy the righteous demands of the law, Jesus had to live a perfect, sinless life and then die, not for His own sins, but for the sins of all those who would by faith accept his substitutionary sacrifice.
Of course, this presents a serious problem for those who claim that people should be able get into heaven without believing in Jesus by simply being a good person or living a good life. If it was possible for men to get to heaven without Jesus going to the cross, do you think God would have sent Him there? Do you think Jesus would have gone through such a horrific ordeal, if it wasn't necessary?
It may be the greatest violation of modern day political correctness to say such things in these ecumenical, multi-cultural times, but the Bible makes it inexorably clear that there is no other way into heaven, except through the One whom John the Baptist called "the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world."
Knowing that the death of Jesus was the only way for sin to be dealt with brings an entirely new perspective to The Passion, because, in a very real sense, it was not just the Romans or the Jews who killed Jesus, and it was not Satan, though he unquestionably was working overtime the day Jesus was crucified.
The devil, however, was not in charge for even one moment. He only thought he was. In reality, Satan was merely an unwitting fool, carefully orchestrating an event, which would ultimately result in his own destruction. When the Romans crucified Jesus at the request of the Jewish leaders, it was not the devil's plan they were carrying out that day. It was Godís!
Remember what Jesus said to Pilate, when Pilate informed Him that as governor he had the power to crucify Jesus or let Him go. Jesus responded by saying that Pilate had no power, but that which was given to him from above. In other words, Pilate only had the power over Jesus, that God allowed him to have.
From this, we can only draw one conclusion: It was God, Who gave Jesus over to be crucified at the hands of the Romans. Every awful thing that happened to His Son on that horrible, yet glorious day, God allowed. Not only did He allow it, He had planned it from the foundation of the world, even before Adam and Eve committed the first sin. This is why Jesus is referred to in scripture as the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.
Make no mistake, Jesus was no victim. I kept thinking, as I was watching the movie, that at any moment Jesus could have called thousands of angels to rescue Him. He could have stopped the whole thing with just one word. Yet, He didn't. Why? Because, to save those He loved, He had to die, and He knew it. It was His plan from the beginning, and He embraced it.
Not only did He have to die, but he had to die a terrible death; one sufficient to atone for every sinful word and deed committed by men from creation to the end of the world; one supreme sacrifice to end all sacrifices.
Many books have been written on this subject, but for the moment, suffice it to say that Jesus came to earth for the express purpose of becoming a man and living the first and only sinless life, so that He could die as a perfect, spotless sacrifice and thus pay the penalty for the sins of the world.
The awful beatings, the crown of thorns, the cruel cutting and tearing of the cat-of-nine-tails, the nails and the cross were all part of the judgment of God on sin. Yes, the crucifixion was bloody, but it had to be. That is what the Biblical word propitiation is all about. In His death, Jesus appeased the just wrath of God against sin for all who by faith would accept Jesusí death as full payment for their sins. A lot of sin was paid for that day. This I know.
When it was finally over, Jesus ended his ordeal on the cross by saying, "It is accomplished," or "It is finished." The cross was not the work of the Romans or the Jews; it was Godís accomplishment.
That is not to say that the Romans and Jews were not responsible for their role. They were willing participants in the worst crime ever committed. The Romans may not have known what they were doing at the time, but the Jewish religious leaders certainly did. The members of the Sanhedrin, with a couple of exceptions, rejected Jesus, because they had already rejected God. Jesus made that abundantly clear. He said, "If you reject Me, you reject Him Who sent me."
The Jewish religious leaders said with their lips that they loved God, but when they actually met Him, when the Word of God became flesh and dwelt among them, they clearly hated Him. When Jesus appeared on the scene and showed the Jewish leaders exactly what God was like, it became immediately clear that they didn't like God at all. In fact, they hated Him.
Make no mistake, when the members of the Sanhedrin called for Jesus to be crucified, they knew He was the Son of God. How do we know that? Jesus said so.
During His ministry, Jesus told a parable of a presumably wealthy man (God), who owned a vineyard (Israel), which he had let out to keepers (Jewish religious leaders). When the man sent his servants (the prophets) to collect the fruits of his vineyard, the keepers of the vineyard beat them and threw them out of the vineyard. Finally, the owner of the vineyard sent his son (Jesus), saying surely they will honor my son.
In the parable, the keepers of the vineyard recognized the son and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him, believing that if the son was dead, they could have the vineyard for themselves.
The members of the Sanhedrin, who called for the crucifixion of the Messiah and orchestrated his trial and execution in violation of many of their own laws, recognized Jesus for Who He was, and killed him to maintain their power and hierarchy, to have the "vineyard" for themselves.
Does this mean that Jews today are cursed because of the crucifixion, as some claim they are? I donít think so. God has already judged the Jewish nation for rejecting and executing their Messiah. The generation of Jews that was alive at the time of the crucifixion, was punished for their rejection as no other generation of people ever had been judged before, or ever would be again.
In fact, Jesus said prior to the crucifixion (Mathew 23), that all of the murders, from the slaying of righteous Abel by his brother Cain, four thousand years earlier, to the slaying of many of God's prophets by the nation of Israel over the centuries, all the way up to the time when the Jews would kill the Son of God and execute many of his followers, were all adding up; were all filling up Israel's cup of iniquity. Jesus made it clear that when that cup was full, God would turn it upside down, and pour it out in judgment upon that one generation of Jews, the generation that rejected the Messiah and filled Israel's cup to the brim.
Powerfully and terribly, Jesus pronounced their sentence: "Surely, I say unto you, that all of these things shall come upon this generation."
That's why in 70 A.D., Jerusalem suffered judgment so great that Jesus Himself described it as tribulation such as the world had never seen before, nor would ever see again. This time of great tribulation unfolded in history as the Jews rebelled against Rome, causing the Roman army to lay siege against Jerusalem. For more than three years, millions of Jews were holed up inside the walls of the city, trying to hold off the army that God had sent to judge them. During this time those inside the city suffered unspeakable horrors, including disease, wholesale starvation and even cannibalism, much of which are described in vivid, sometimes nauseating, detail by the Jewish historian of the time, Josephus.
In order to hold modern day Jews responsible for the crucifixion of Christ, one must ignore two historical facts. First, the Jewish nation has already paid for their role in the execution of Jesus. They not only suffered the aforementioned great tribulation, but had their temple, the very symbol of their nation, entirely destroyed and the land which God has promised to the seed of Abraham taken from them. For centuries afterwards, they were referred to as the "Diaspora," because they had been scattered throughout the gentile nations with no land of their own.
The second problem with blaming Jews today for the crucifixion stems from the failure of some to recognize that many Jews did not reject Jesus or approve of His crucifixion. The apostles were all Jews. The two Marys, Mary Magdalene and Jesusí mother, were Jews. Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathaea were both members of the Jewish Sanhedrin, and also were followers of Jesus. On the Day of Pentecost, when Peter warned a crowd of thousands of Jews to save themselves "from this untoward generation," three thousand Jews converted to Christianity on the spot. Shortly thereafter, another five thousand Jews became Christians and more were added to the church daily.
In fact, it was those Jews, who believed, who eventually brought the Christian gospel to the rest of the world. Also, from a purely theologically perspective, the Jews are no more to blame for the crucifixion that I am, and of course, no less to blame.
As I watched The Passion, I kept saying to myself, "Jesus didn't have to do this. He chose to." As the soldier mocked Him and beat Him, I kept thinking, "This is the One, Who created the world and everything in it. He is unbelievably powerful. This is the One, Who spoke and even the wind and waves obeyed His voice. This is the One, Who is so powerful and so holy that He will someday destroy all of the wicked in the world, merely by the brightness of His coming. Yet, He is allowing puny humans to torture and kill Him. It is so amazing."
The Apostle Paul wrote in a letter to one of the early churches that it was for "the joy set before Him" that Jesus endured the cross. As they mocked and beat Him, as they drove those spikes into His sinless hands, Jesus kept His eyes on the day when those who had accepted His sacrifice would stand rejoicing before the throne of God in heaven; holy, justified, and cleansed from all their sins. The book of Revelation says that the number of believers who will be there on that day will be ten thousand times ten thousand and thousands of thousands from every kindred, tongue, people, and nation on the earth.
On that crucifixion day, which Mel Gibson so graphically portrays in his movie, a suffering Christ looked forward through the centuries and saw that happy day when millions of men and women from every nation under heaven would stand rejoicing before God with their sins forgiven, all because of what He was enduring.
That was the joy set before Him; His reason for enduring it all.
© 2004 Bill Sizemore - All Rights Reserved
Bill Sizemore is a registered Independent who
works as executive director of the Oregon Taxpayers Union, a statewide
taxpayer organization. Bill was the Republican candidate for governor
in 1998. He and his wife Cindy have four children, ages eight to thirteen,
and live on 36 acres in Beavercreek, just southeast of Oregon City, Oregon.
"Remember what Jesus said to Pilate, when Pilate informed Him that as governor he had the power to crucify Jesus or let Him go. Jesus responded by saying that Pilate had no power, but that which was given to him from above."