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Abstract

Table of Contents

Part I

Part II

Part III

Part IV

Appendixes


     

Part IV: Triumph over Death

Chapter 34

 

The Presentation Of The Blood

 

Without shedding of blood is no remission (of sins).
(Hebrews 9:22)

It was necessary therefore that
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

(Hebrews 9:23,24)

 

     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 it.
     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

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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.
     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

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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 prototype.
     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

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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.

Leviticus 17:11
     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.

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Hebrews 9:22
     Without shedding of blood is no remission.

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.

Hebrews 9:11-15
     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.

Hebrews 9:24
      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.

Hebrews 10:1922
      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 of faith.

     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 that sacrifice.
     The question arises, therefore, When did the Lord Jesus perform this part of his office? I suggest that a careful reading of the events

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immediately following the resurrection will give us adequate clues, while at the same time shedding a wonderful light upon certain special circumstances surrounding these events.

     Putting together 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" (John 20:17).
     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,   

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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 9:1115 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.

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     In 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.

     In summary, 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 . . ."

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     The 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 28:1315). 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 th
e

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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 piece.
     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

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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 3:21).

     These things 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." 

 

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Copyright © 1988 Evelyn White. All rights reserved

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