What's in the blood of Christ that makes it powerful?


The efficacy of Christ's blood lies not in some property of the blood itself, but rather in the fact that Christ shed it in death, a death that was the price of atonement for the elect's sins. Although the blood shed by Christ was cruel and is spoken of as a sacrifice, the elect are saved by Christ's substitutionary death. When Peter calls Christ's blood precious (and it is!) in 1 Peter 1:19, Peter's reference is to the sacrificial nature of his death (1 Pet. 2:24). In cases like this, blood is a figurative way of referring to death. The phrase "Christ died for our sin" (Rom. 5:8; 1 Cor. 15:3) expresses the truth that death, not blood, was the penalty. The elect are not saved by Christ's wounds, but by his death.

A good example is given to us in the Old Testament. The Mosaic sacrifices were provisional, substitutionary, representative, and pointed to the eventual sacrifice of Christ. Because one of those sacrifices employed lambs, when John the Baptist referred to Jesus as the "Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world" (John 1:29), the Jews who heard this might have immediately reflected on this. A particular sacrifice would have been the slaying of the Passover lamb and the application of its blood to the door posts of Jewish houses so that the death angel would pass over them. The Passover Feast was a celebration in remembrance of when God delivered the Israelites from bondage in Egypt. It is a superb picture of Christ's atoning work on the cross (Ex. 12:11-13).

Another interesting point in this discussion is that Christ's death would have meant nothing had he not lived a perfect life and fulfilled the law. We are saved not only by Christ's death and resurrection, but by his righteous life (Rom. 5:19). The Westminster Confession of Faith states:
The Lord Jesus, by His perfect obedience, and sacrifice of Himself, which He through the eternal Spirit, once offered up unto God, has fully satisfied the justice of His Father; and purchased, not only reconciliation, but an everlasting inheritance in the kingdom of heaven, for those whom the Father has given unto Him (WCF 8.5).

Answer by Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr.

Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr., D.D., M.Div. is the Theological Editor at Third Millennium Ministries (Thirdmill).