The Gift of Life

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But the whole crowd shouted, “Away with this man! Release Barabbas to us!” Wanting to release Jesus, Pilate appealed to them again.. But they kept shouting, “Crucify him! Crucify him!” For the third time he spoke to them: “Why? What crime has this man committed? I have found in him no grounds for the death penalty. Therefore I will have him punished and then release him.”

But with loud shouts they insistently demanded that he be crucified, and their shouts prevailed. So Pilate decided to grant their demand. He released the man who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder, the one they asked for, and surrendered Jesus to their will. Luke 23:18-25

The room was spinning, I was hot, nauseous, and, worst of all,  sprawled out on the gym floor with my peers encircled and Prof. Roy McKinney, grinning like a Cheshire cat, snapping my picture!  Yes, the cool jock had passed out after sharing the “gift of life.”  The “gift of life” is the name that the Red Cross (as I typed it dawned on me that the “cross” should be red, but I digress) uses when appealing for blood donations.  Ah, yes, give the gift of life—though it may cost you yours!  Well, at least that is how I felt as I lay on the floor with a crimson face and a loss of dignity.

Give the gift of life, blood, though it may cost you yours—this is exactly what Jesus did.  But why focus on His blood?  Blood is that life infused essential gallon of bodily fluid, the sight of which makes some people queasy and the loss of which makes “some” people faint!

Blood is analogous to many concepts including suffering, sacrifice, intimacy and vitality, as in:  “She sweat blood over that project!” They spilled their blood for our freedom.”  “He is my flesh and blood.”  “We need some young blood in this organization.”  In our passage from Luke the crowd was “blood thirsty”–“they kept shouting, ‘Crucify him! Crucify him!’”  They wanted blood, His blood!

Each Sunday across the globe His broken body and shed blood are remembered in the Lord’s Supper.  But why was it so important that He poured out His blood?  Couldn’t He have just died a sacrificial death without the bloody mess?

If one looked at the behavior of God’s people from the beginning it is apparent that “blood-shed” was necessary in order for a sacrifice to be acceptable to the Lord.  The author of Hebrews writes “without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sins” (9:22). However, he also says that “the blood of bulls and goats could not remove sin” (10:4). Therefore, the blood of the Lamb of God had to be poured out for the forgiveness of sin, once and for all (9:12).  Yes, He gave THE gift of life so that we might LIVE!

By the way, I donate blood in spite of my “faint-hearted” initial experience.  When I give now I feel the needle in my arm and remember the nails; as I see blood flow into the bag I reflect on the perpetual flowing, cleansing blood of Jesus that cascades down through the centuries bringing life to all receiving it.

As we celebrate “Good Friday” perhaps I should challenge you to “give the gift of life.”  However, I would rather ask you to remember that this day is good for one reason:  He gave the gift of life for all and for each.

 -Dr. Jim Donovan, Professor of Biblical Studies

Lord, help us to remember the Lamb of God who bled that we might live . . . Amen.