Friday’s Column: Brent’s Bent
Hypovolemic shock recently put me in the hospital. As dehydration was the precipitant leading to this condition, I needed IV fluids, stat! I used to have such wondrous veins, vast highways of blood running through the hypodermis. All the cellular denizens of my body were happy and enriched by their life-giving flow. Metaphorically, if those veins of my youth were one of those two paths leading to our eternal destiny, it would lead to hell, being wide and broad. But, alas, with chronic health, and especially dehydration, they repented and became the strait and narrow way. The IVs that the nurses initially placed soon became infiltrated. Fortunately, the hospital has ultrasound guided peripheral IV teams capable of making the most challenging sticks. These technicians came to my bedside and put two new IV sites into my deeper veins. When I had the nurse pull those from me before my release, she expressed surprise over the needle’s length. Sometimes, it takes great effort to find the “blood” (i.e., vein) in medicine.
I begin with an apology to the squeamish. The topic of blood and needles can be unsettling. I appreciate this. I might wince, too, had repeated phlebotomies not conditioned me to be a pincushion. However, the subject of blood is necessary for our salvation. When man fell from God’s grace, God must have instituted the sacrificial system as the means whereby one could assuage His wrath. We know not His specific instructions but realize God gave them to the patriarchs. The Hebrews writer says Abel provided a sacrifice by faith, faith being a conviction resulting from hearing God’s Word (Hebrews 11.4; Romans 10.17). A sacrificial system codified by God addressed the various types of noncapital sins under Moses’ Law. There were mandatory and voluntary sacrifices. Sadly, for those innocent animals, the Hebrews writer reminds us that their blood could not remove sin (Hebrews 10.3-4). During Passover, scholars believe that Wadi Kidron (i.e., Kidron Brook) ran red from the blood of sacrifices offered on the Temple Mount. Commentators of the Scriptures note that Jesus would have had to cross over this stream of blood to climb the height of Mount Olivet.
Fortunately for us, the blood we must find to receive salvation does not require an ultrasound or a trip to a cattle feedlot. Instead, Jesus shed His saving blood atop the Place of the Skull in the first century, ushering in His New Testament. Moreover, the Hebrews writer tells us that this efficacious blood obtained eternal redemption for us (Hebrews 9.12). Best of all, Jesus only had to provide this sacrifice once for all time (Hebrews 10.10). Yet, all I have noted thus far is that Jesus shed this blood, that this blood is available. Scriptures remind us that without blood, God does not forgive sinners (Hebrews 9.22). So, we still need directions to the “fountain filled with blood, Drawn from Immanuel’s veins.” Thankfully, the apostle Paul informs us that the act of baptism (i.e., immersion in water) enables us to be in the likeness of the death, burial, and resurrection of our Lord (Romans 6.3-5). Why baptism? Jesus shed His blood in death (John 19.34). And since we cannot literally bathe in the flowing blood of Christ, we must do so figuratively. Again, baptism is where you receive that symbolic washing of Christ’s blood. Once cleansed by baptism, John tells us that a faithful life of striving to walk in the Light enables us to remain in contact with that saving blood (1 John 1.7).
Yes, baptism is where we find the blood. Therefore, quoting the preacher Ananias as he spoke to the crestfallen Saul of Tarsus three days removed from the Damascus road: “Now why do you delay? Get up and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on His name.” (Acts 22.16 NASB1995)