“This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out [“shed”] for many for the forgiveness of sins.'”
(This is the fourth in a series of devotions drawn from the Old Testament)
The word “shed” basically means “poured out”. When speaking of worship-related blood, the Jews reserved the Hebrew word for “shed” to identify sin offering blood. Different Hebrew words were used to describe the various applications of sacrificial blood, but “shed” was the word uniquely used for sin offering blood that needed to be “poured out” at the base of the Bronze Altar. All sin offering blood was “daubed” on the horns of one of the altars, with the remaining blood of all sin offerings uniquely “shed” at the Bronze Altar’s base.
God had declared that blood is equated with a creature’s life: For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it for you on the altar to make atonement for your souls, for it is the blood that makes atonement by the life (Lev. 17:11). Because it was equated with a creature’s life, the blood (life) of a sin offering was the most precious and sacred element in Old Testament worship. When the Temple stood, Rabbis would rank the holiness of the ten most sacred sacrificial elements, and the very highest degree of holiness belonged to the blood of the sin offering. [Edersheim, The Temple…, 80. The blood of the sin offering was ranked number one, the burnt offering is number two, the sin offering itself is number three and the guilt offering is number four in this Rabbinic ranking.]
When our Lord Jesus said His blood would be shed for the forgiveness of sins, He was describing His blood as sin offering blood. Because blood is equated with life, when Jesus predicted the shedding of His blood He was predicting the pouring out of His life for our sins.
Today the most precious element in New Testament worship is still the blood of the sin offering—the blood of Christ. When we are invited to drink of Christ’s blood in Holy Communion, realize that we are engaging in the loftiest act this side of heaven, for we are drinking in the life of the Son of God, the life of the eternal sin offering.
O Lord we praise You that You shed for us your sin offering blood; bless us that we partake of it with believing hearts. Amen.