Part IV: Triumph over Death
Of The Blood
Without shedding of blood
is no remission (of sins).
It was necessary therefore
the (representations) of things in the heavens
should be purified by these (means);
but the heavenly things themselves
with better sacrifices than these.
For Christ is not entered into the holy places
made with hands (which are the figures of the true);
but into heaven itself,
now to appear in the very presence of God
on our behalf
For many years
I wondered why it was so important that the Lord should have
been raised bodily from the dead. It did not seem sufficient
that the real reason was to fulfill his prediction that He would
raise up his body again ("this temple," John 2:19).
No prophecy is made merely to provide a justification for fulfilling
What great importance attached
to his body that He could not have manifested Himself to his
disciples in a spiritual body and left his physical body in the
grave, sealed and never to be seen again? So long as He appeared
in a truly recognizable form to those who needed the
the assurance of his
being alive from the dead ‹ that seemed to me to be quite
sufficient. It surely was not meant as a sign to the unbelieving
Jews, because He never did actually appear to any of them.
I have come to the conclusion that
He had yet one more task to fulfill in his physical body before
the Plan of Redemption was completed. As He had given his physical
life in the role of a sin-offering, so like the High Priest under
the Mosaic covenant, He also must present the evidence of
his sacrifice in person. And I believe that "in Person"
means in Person as a Man; and to fulfill that role He
must still have a truly human body, a body of which blood
is an essential component.
But this implies a real correspondence
of some kind between the Holy of Holies of the Mosaic covenant
and a Holy of Holies in heaven; otherwise where would He go to
present his blood? Is there thus some counterpart in that other
world that does correspond to the Holy of Holies in the Tabernacle
(and later in the Temple)? Which is the real and which is the
shadow: the earthly or the heavenly?
I want to suggest
a simple means of testing the answer we give to this question.
The earthly seems so real, so tangible, so objective: the heavenly
seems so invisible, so intangible, so subjective. What criterion
would serve to enable us to evaluate reality apart from the bias
of our own immediate sensory experience? The answer to this,
I believe, lies in the concept of permanence. What is
truly real is permanent. Whatever has about it a certain temporality,
passingness, impermanence, is not real in the same absolute sense.
What is lasting, is real.
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But how long must a thing
last to be real? The question is an interesting one, and one
that bears directly upon certain phenomena in modern physics.
There are subatomic particles, for example, that have a life
of only a few seconds. Can they be said to be real objects?
While they last, Yes! What if they last only a fraction of a
second? How big a fraction? Would a billionth of a second be
long enough to establish real existence? At what point does something
have an existence so fleeting as to surrender any right to being
called real at all?
We begin to run into philosophical
problems when we reach this level of temporality, and the problems
are actual enough because we now "know" of one subatomic
particle that does indeed have such a fleeting existence! It
is called a antiomega-minus baryon particle and it has
a life of 15 billionths of a second. . . .
We thus have to adjust our thinking
somewhat about the nature of reality. Let us go to the other
extreme. Would we not say that an object was "more real"
that had a life of billions of years ‹ the earth itself,
for example ‹ when compared with the antiomega-minus baryon
particle which has such a fleeting existence that it can
only be demonstrated at all by the most refined scientific equipment
imaginable and even then only by inference? Our thinking tends
to look upon permanence
as a mark of reality.
What lasts a long time is more real than what is short-lived.
What then of something that is eternal in the heavens?
If it lasts forever, even though we cannot yet actually see it,
is it not by this principle more real than the earth itself ‹
which will pass away (Matthew 24:35) even though we can see
it? A thing does not have to be seen to be real.
I believe we have to look again
at certain passages of Scripture in the light of this kind of
assessment of reality: the reality of the permanent though yet
unseen, against the unreality of the transient though visible
while it lasts. Long after this world has passed away, that other
world will remain (Hebrews 12:26, 27). Which, then, is the real
and which is the shadow only? I think we must conclude that our
world is the shadow of the eternal reality which is in heaven.
We thus have to divest our minds
of the idea that the spiritual world is a kind of mental creation
which uses the imagery of the material world that alone has real
existence. For the truth is that all we see and touch and handle
is a mere extension of the spiritual world. It is a momentary
crystallization of spiritual reality, a reification that exists
only for what we call "the present." It will no longer
be needed when the everlasting reality supersedes the temporal
one. In short, the spiritual is the real, not the physical.
The divinely appointed festivals
and rituals and ordinances of the Mosaic Law which marked the
seasons throughout the year in the Old Testament were no more
than temporary transcriptions of a basic reality in the spiritual
world. They were "a mere shadow of things to come but the
substance (the reality) belongs to Christ" (Colossians 2:17,
American Standard Version).
Thus the Tabernacle was not the materialization
of something that was an idea only. It was patterned after an original
reality that was already in existence in heaven. It was not the original
of its counterpart in heaven but a copy of it, a "figure"
of it (Hebrews 9:24), a kind of temporary representation, an "antitype"
as the Greek actually has it (,
anti-tupa). The same word is applied to baptism (1 Peter 3:21)
as a symbol of a higher reality already in existence. When we die, we
are not deserting a solid world of reality for an ethereal world of unreality:
quite the reverse. We are forsaking the ephemeral for the eternal, the
shadow for the substance, the copy for the original, the antitype for
The blood which symbolized the
sin-offering of the goat sacrificed under Mosaic Law on the Day
of Atonement had to be carried into the presence of God. When
the time came for this antitype sacrifice to be superseded by
the prototype sacrifice of the Lamb of God, the blood of this
sin-offering had also to be carried into the presence of
God. But this time the presentation was not in a temporary tabernacle
made with hands, or by
a Priest who served only for a little while, but in heaven itself
and by a High Priest who abides forever (Hebrews 7:23, 24).
When the blood sacrifices were
offered in the Tabernacle, and later in the Temple, an innocent
creature had indeed to be put to death; but in itself the mere
slaughter of an animal was not enough. In the first place, an
animal sacrifice will not suffice to redeem a man under
sentence of death. The balancing of justice requires that a man's
life blood, and not merely an animal's, must atone for a
man's capital offense. It is not possible for the blood
of goats or bulls or any other creature below man, however innocent
it may be, to atone for human sins (Hebrews 10:4). In the second
place, the proof of death in the form of shed blood, had to be
brought and presented before God in acknowledgment of the commonly
accepted principle of jurisprudence that justice must not merely
be done but must also be seen to be done. The visual evidence
of substitutionary death had to be brought before the bar of
justice in testimony of the penalty paid.
The proof of a full, perfect, and
sufficient sacrifice for man's sins in the form of a man's
shed blood (not merely in the form of the shed blood of an
animal) must finally be presented before God in order that justice
may be both actually done and actually seen to have been done.
This is the basis of all satisfaction in legal matters; to establish
the fact of an adequate penalty paid, proof of which is witnessed
in an appropriate manner.
We have already observed that the
Lord Jesus was not merely the Lamb of God, but stood also in
the place of the High Priest who sacrificed the Lamb. He offered
up Himself (Hebrews 9:14). He was, in fact, our
High Priest (Hebrews 4:14, 15); and the blood which He presented
as proof of his having sacrificed Himself as MAN was the presentation
of his own shed human blood. With this, He entered into
the true Holy of Holies in the presence of God and there offered,
once for all, proof that the penalty of our sins had been paid:
justice had been done and our eternal redemption therefore secured.
Here was the ground for our forgiveness, a forgiveness which
in every way satisfied the demands of the moral law because it
was upon an acceptable principle of balance, accompanied by a
visible proof of satisfaction.
Consider, then, in this light,
the following series of passages of Scripture which bear upon
it. And although these passages are familiar, they should be
read, bearing in mind what has been said above about what is
real and what is only a shadow of reality.
The life of the flesh is in the
blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make
an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood which makes
an atonement for the soul.
Without shedding of blood is no
1 Peter 1:18, 19
For as much as you know that you
were not redeemed with corruptible things as silver and gold
. . . but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a Lamb without
blemish and without spot.
Christ being come an high priest
of good things to come, through a greater and more perfect tabernacle
not made with hands, that is to say, not of this order of creation;
neither through the blood of goats and calves, but through
his own blood, He entered in once into the Holy Place having
obtained eternal redemption for us.
For if the blood of bulls and goats
. . . sanctifies to the purifying of the flesh, how much more
shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered
Himself without spot unto God, purge your conscience from
dead works to serve the living God?
And for this reason He is the mediator
of the new covenant, that by means of death for the redemption
of the transgressions that were under the first covenant, they
which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.
Note that when
He thus entered the Holy Place, He had already obtained our redemption.
His entering followed the accomplishment of our redemption
and was not therefore to achieve it but rather to testify
to the fact of its having already been accomplished.
For Christ is not entered
into the holy places [i.e., the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies]
made with hands, which are figures of the true; but into heaven
itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us.
Having therefore, brethren,
boldness to enter into the holiest [i.e., the Holy of Holies,
the very presence of God] by the blood of Jesus, by a new and
living way which He hats consecrated for us through his flesh
. . . let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance
Now there is
little doubt that we have here a revelation of something which
the Lord accomplished as part of his saving work: and it was
done after He had obtained our redemption: that is to
say, having already obtained eternal redemption for us
(Hebrews 9:12). Clearly, He presented his blood as proof of his
sacrifice, exactly as the High Priest under the old covenant
had presented the blood of the sacrificial victim as proof of
The question arises, therefore,
When did the Lord Jesus perform this part of his office? I suggest
that a careful reading of the events
the resurrection will give us adequate clues, while at the same
time shedding a wonderful light upon certain special circumstances
surrounding these events.
the accounts in the four Gospels, we are presented with an empty
tomb very early before the dawning of the third day after the
crucifixion, a day which by Jewish reckoning would actually begin
at 6 p.m. on Saturday evening. Two Marys ‹ Mary Magdalene
and Mary the mother of Joses ‹ and one other woman named
Salome (Mark 16:1), were at the tomb while it was yet dark (John
20:1) before the dawn of Sunday morning. The tomb was empty.
Mary Magdalene ran to tell Peter and the other disciples (John
20:2), and Peter and John ran at once to see for themselves.
John, being the younger, reached the tomb first but also being
more restrained, did not go in. Peter came puffing up behind
and, with characteristic impetuosity, brushed past John standing
at the opening and went right on in. He found the linen clothes
lying there disposed in such a way as though the Lord had risen
and carefully divested Himself of them, laying the head cloth
neatly folded in a place by itself. But there was no sign of
the Lord Himself; and presumably with many questions in their
minds, Peter and John returned to the city.
Meanwhile, Mary Magdalene returned
to the empty tomb and stood weeping, deeply grieved that He was
no longer there. As she did so, someone whom she failed to recognize
through her tears, asked her why she was weeping and whom she
was seeking. Supposing Him to be the gardener, she asked at once
where her Lord's body had been taken. The very simplicity of
this record is surely the most substantial proof of its veracity.
It is an uninventable scene. We all have those among our closest
friends whose way of calling us by name at once identifies them,
and this is clearly what happened here. Recognition was immediate.
Mary fell at once to her knees before Him and would have held
Him by the feet . . . but He forbade her to touch Him.
And here we have the first clue
to the sequence of events which transpired between heaven and
earth before the Lord returned and again showed Himself openly
to the other disciples. He said to her: "Touch
Me not, for I am not yet ascended to my Father; but go to My
brethren [how wonderful!] and say unto them, I ascend unto My
Father and your Father; and to My God and your God"
What did this mean?
It is significant that on three occasions the Lord either addressed
or spoke of his Father as GOD. When He first entered upon his
mission by becoming Man we are told that He said, "Lo, I
come to do thy will, O God" (Hebrews 10:7). When that mission
was being accomplished in its most crucial aspect, He cried out,
"My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?" (Matthew
27:46). And now,
here, when it seems He
was about to ascend and present the proof of that mission fulfilled,
He again refers to his Father as his GOD. In each case it seems
clear that He was addressing his Father not in the old familiar
relationship but rather as Judge of all men, before Whom we stand
guilty and He, as Man, stood as our mediator.
Since He was now about to present
his blood before the divine judgment seat as a visible symbol
of his sacrifice, any touching of his body by sinful man could
only have fatally defiled Him and rendered Him unfit to fulfill
his office as officiating High Priest. That this must be the
reason for his warning to Mary is borne out by the fact that
subsequently He not only permitted the disciples to hold Him
by the feet (Matthew 28:9) but actually invited them to
handle Him and see that it really was Himself who stood before
them (Luke 24:39). Moreover, the ascension that He spoke of to
Mary can hardly have been a reference to that final ascension
which marked the end of his visual presence with the disciples
during the forty succeeding days, because He assures her that
He will yet return to be with the disciples once He has
ascended to his God and his Father and completed the last stage
of his mission as Saviour.
It was necessary, or perhaps one
should say rather an act of graciousness, that this encounter
should be allowed in order to provide a natural occasion for
revealing to us the wonderful fact that He was indeed about to
present his blood in the true Holy of Holies in heaven. But for
this incident we could not have known the circumstances which
lie behind the statement made in Hebrews 9:11‹15 which we
have already quoted. The wonderful thing is that we know this
"presentation" of his blood did actually occur, for
the body with which He returned to his brethren to spend the
next forty event-filled days with them was a different body.
To begin with, Mark's account of his first
appearance to two witnesses ‹ and two witnesses were required by Jewish
law to establish the truth of anything ‹ states that He appeared to them
"in another form" (Mark 16:12). The Greek here is very specific:
(en hetera morphe). The implication of these words is that although
the form in which He appeared to them was still recognizably Himself,
yet it was a changed body. It was no longer the identical body
in which He had appeared to Mary Magdalene, even though both appearances
were after the resurrection. A change of some sort had therefore
taken place within the interval between the two appearances. The shape
was the same but the vital force which animated it was different.
The vital force in our earthly
bodies is in the blood, which is the life of the soul: but a
new vital force had now replaced the original vital force in
the blood. Blood was no longer the conductor of the energies
of that changed body.
Luke 24:39 the Lord's words seem to indicate just such a change.
This change did not involve the spiritualization of his
body, for He assured his disciples that a spirit did not have
flesh and bones as they could see for themselves his body had.
This was a real body, even though He could pass with it through
solid substances, through closed doors for instance: and He could
eat meat before them all and yet so transform the food thus ingested
that it disappeared instantly when He Himself disappeared from
their view. And He invited them to make real contact with his
body, to handle Him and see for themselves. This is incomprehensible
to us as we are now constituted. How could a body be handled
and yet pass silently through a solid object like a closed door?
To these disciples He said, "Behold,
my hands and my feet, that it is I Myself: and handle Me and
see; for a spirit has not flesh and bones as you see Me
have" (Luke 24:39). * Such an expression, "flesh and
bones," is unique as a description of his body in the New
Testament, even of his mystical Body which is the Church (Ephesians
5:30). We are members of that Body, "of his flesh and of
his bones." The phrase flesh and bones is common
enough in the Old Testament (Genesis 2:23; 29:14; 2 Samuel 5:1;
19:12, 13; for example), but in the New Testament this is not
the case: the normal Greek phrase being flesh and blood
(for example, Matthew 16:17; 1 Corinthians 15:50; Galatians 1:16;
Ephesians 6:12; and in a slightly modified form in John 1:13,
"not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh"). In some
real way, the Lord Jesus Christ had for our sakes "shed
his blood," and in making this sacrifice not only secured
our redemption but also achieved a higher form of bodily existence
in which blood no longer played a vital role.
it may be that we can now place in chronological sequence the
seemingly incidental notices of events relating to the first
few hours after the resurrection and find ourselves in possession
of a remarkable scenario somewhat as follows.
The Lord's terribly mutilated body
had been taken down from the cross, given a very hurried treatment
with temporary wrappings and anointing to preserve it against
insect attack while it remained in the tomb for the official
three days and nights to qualify for a death certificate. The
Jews, knowing that the body was still legally "in the possession
of" his disciples, persuaded Pilate to see that the tomb
was sealed and guarded so that it could not be "stolen"
and the pretense then made that Jesus had risen from the dead.
After three days and nights, they felt assured that such an event
was wholly unlikely.
* With this, contrast I Corinthians 15:50:
". . . flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God
. . ."
sealing of the tomb is the first "fact" we have in
our scenario, for it means that if Jesus was to come forth from
the tomb, either (a) the stone must be rolled away, or (b) Jesus
Himself must come through the stone ‹ as He was later
to pass freely in and out of locked doors (John 20:19, 26).
In the case of (a) one has to ask,
"Why did Jesus not roll away the stone Himself?" After
the resurrection He surely could do anything He wished to do
. . . . In the case of (b) it would seem that by merely
passing through the stone without disturbing it or breaking the
seal He would have once for all shattered any possibility of
such a rumour as Matthew says was later to be "officially"
sponsored, to the effect that the disciples had stolen the body
while the guards slept (Matthew 28:13‹15). The unbroken seal
would have been the disciples' best proof of the reality of his
emergence in some unique way from the tomb.
Was there, therefore, some good
reason why an angel was called to roll away the stone (Matthew
28:2)? I believe there was and the reason is indeed significant.
It seems that the body which was first raised that Sunday morning
was exactly the same mutilated body that had been laid in the
tomb on Friday evening. It was not metamorphosed until some time
later (Mark 16:12). The body which Jesus re-engaged was a body
of flesh and blood ‹ in short, the same battered and
bruised and wounded body which had been taken down from the cross.
It was, in fact, that same "temple" which He had said
He would indeed raise up again (John 2:19): and the Jews had
obviously so understood his words if we are to be guided by the
fears they expressed afterwards in Matthew 27:64. Since throughout
his earthly ministry He had deliberately limited Himself to the
normal capacities of that body, so now ‹ even as He rose
again in the sealed tomb ‹ He continued to limit Himself.
For this reason an angel had to come and roll away the stone.
Shortly afterwards Mary Magdalene
found Him, still in the garden and still, I suggest, in that
same flesh and blood body. And here we meet with a second fact
in the record. When Mary recognized her beloved Lord she fell
at his feet and would have immediately touched Him, but He instantly
forbade her to do so (John 20:17). It has often been suggested
that the reason for this injunction was in order to discourage
an attachment to Jesus on the part of Mary which was no longer
appropriate. It is possible. But I suggest that there was another
reason, a reason that relates to the High Priestly role of the
Saviour, who could not be touched by anyone until his
priestly duty was completed. Did He not Himself suggest the reason
when He said He had yet to ascend to his God and hers?
The fact is that He seems to have
been at that moment on his way with his own blood to leave it
in the heavenly Holy of Holies as the
symbol of his death
for all eternity. He delayed long enough to put on record this
one encounter which was to provide the occasion to fill out the
scenario of his still uncompleted mission. Without the details
of this particular meeting we could not have known that the body
with which He entered the Holy of Holies of God with his blood
was a flesh and blood body.
The next incident recorded is his
first meeting with his disciples since his death. This time He
by no means avoided the kind of contact which in the former situation
would have disqualified his High Priestly mission, but actually
invited contact as a proof of the reality of his Person
(John 20:27). But why should this have been necessary? If Mary
had recognized Him unquestionably once He had spoken her name,
what possible reason was there for the disciples not to be able
to? The answer must surely be that Mary had seen Him in his old
familiar body, wounds and all: whereas the disciples were seeing
Him in an entirely new form, clothed in a metamorphosed body
(en hetero morphe ‹ Mark 16:12). Obviously the form
is different, for He had come to them silently through a locked
door (John 20:19-26): whereas the body which Mary saw had been
imprisoned by the locked "door" of the tomb.
What He had now assumed was not
the old body of flesh and blood but a new, changed, and glorified
body, a body of flesh and bone and therefore real as no ghostly
"body" could ever be, yet different in its vital principle
in the absence of blood as the sustaining medium of its life.
So we have,
revealed to the eye of faith and to the energetic mind, certain
details which wonderfully assure our hearts that the Lord was
raised without corruption in order that, transported in his uncorrupted
body, his uncorrupted blood might be presented before heaven
and placed for all eternity as a witness to the one full, perfect,
and sufficient sacrifice and satisfaction which He offered for
our redemption ‹ an event for which the orderly development
of the Universe had been but a preparation. Natural law in the
development of life had been so ordered that, in the setting
of the stage for man, the way had been opened for the objectification
of God as Man by incarnation in the Person of Jesus Christ, who
might thus become our Redeemer. Physical life had been designed
with this event in view: and the Universe as the amphitheater
of this physical life thus finds its meaning. It is all of a
And the signal of God's acceptance
of the sacrifice which the Lord Jesus had made of Himself was
that He raised Him from the dead, a circumstance which in the
Old Testament is reflected in the return, alive, of the High
Priest from the Holy of Holies after he had placed
the blood upon the Ark
of the Covenant containing the emblems of God's moral law. Thus
was the sacrifice validated in both situations. But whereas the
veil of the Temple had continued to separate God from direct
access by his people, this veil had now been ripped apart from
top to bottom, indicating ‹ symbolically ‹ the possibility
of immediate access to God (Matthew 27:51).
The factual proof of a life given,
the shedding of blood, had been transplanted into a world of
non-physical but greater reality, and presumably there transformed
in some way to make it agreeable in its permanence to that other-worldly
reality. Perhaps its new form was the result of a transformation
similar to that which seems clearly to have taken place in the
Lord's glorified body which thus placed it beyond the spoiling
powers of this present world ‹ even as we have the promise
that our bodies will likewise be fashioned in due time (Philipppians
are not spelled out in a simple narrative of connected events
in such a way as to make them self-evident. The method of presentation
adopted is such that they are likely to be concealed from the
casual reader. But the serious student will rejoice as one who
finds great spoil. Such is always the reward for searching the
Scriptures. This is the delight of all who love the Word of the
Lord ‹ and the puzzlement of all who treat it with insufficient
respect. These fragments of truth have been dispersed throughout
the Scriptures to give a special form of comfort and delight
to those who are willing to dig for them and thus to secure their
spiritual bread as they do their daily bread, "by the sweat
of their brow."
Copyright © 1988 Evelyn White. All rights
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