When I was back in middle school, probably the 7th grade, I was in the Boy Scouts.We had a cool scout troop and an amazing scout master. He took us camping, hiking, and we did all kinds of adventurous stuff. One coolish fall night we met at the local fire station. Our scout master was also a volunteer fire fighter. Yeah, while it was true that we were going to learn all about fire safety . . . what I REALLY was excited about, along with everyone else in our troop, was that we were going to get to work an inch and a half fire hose!! Yeah!!!
The night started out rather routinely. We all stood and pledged allegiance to the flag as it was brought in to the meeting room at the fire station and placed in its stand. We sat through a MAJORLY boring lecture on what to do if our clothes suddenly burst into flames. Stop, drop and roll! And then we were told it was time to go outside. Shoving our chairs aside we all bolted for the door. Trying to fit a couple dozen boys through one single door, all at the same time, proved quite challenging but we all eventually made it out. And there it was! A shiny, red fire truck!
There was something about the way the metal glistened under the parking lot light that really made that truck look amazing. Every piece of chrome had been painstakingly polished. Beautiful. We turned our attention to our scout master as he began telling us about the truck. We were having a wonderful time. We had absolutely no clue. NO IDEA what was about to happen.
As our trusted scout master stood in front of us, speaking, he suddenly bent over, clutching at his chest. He fell to his right, hitting his head on the running board of the truck and . . . he died. His firefighter buddies quickly came to their comrade's side. They asked for coats to cushion this fine man's head against the gravel in the driveway. Me and my friend Jim gave them ours. But that night no amount of first aid helped and, after they took him away, I picked up my coat. It was covered in blood, and so were my hands.
I've been reading through the Old Testament lately. Lots of information about sacrifices in Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy. Blood sacrifices offered to atone for the sins of God's people. One verse caught my attention as I read through chapter after chapter of these specific instructions from God.
"Only be sure that you do not eat the blood, for the blood is the life, and you shall not eat the life with the flesh. You shall not eat it; you shall pour it out on the earth like water." - Deuteronomy 12:23-24
"The blood is the life" . . . "you shall pour it out on the earth" - a foreshadowing of a sacrifice to come?
God demanded a perfect sacrifice, animals without defect. Their blood was poured out on the earth and their perfect bodies were burned, offered as sacrifices . . . "an aroma pleasing to God."
Every Old Testament sacrifice was a precursor of the ultimate sacrifice to come, Jesus Christ's sacrifice on the cross. It was HIS blood, HIS life that was poured out on the earth . . . as an atoning sacrifice for OUR sins. Jesus gave his life . . . for US!
This week I had a blood donation appointment. It held extra meaning for me because I was still in the midst of writing this story. I thought about the blood as it ran out of my arm and into the collection bag - a small sacrifice to help an unknown "someone" at some point in the future. The parallels were not lost on this man's heart.
How beautiful, the blood flow (we sang that in church this week). Humans and animals, designed by God, all contain blood that flows and gives us life. To give ones life, ones blood, as a sacrifice so that others may have life? That is what God wants from each of us. He is after the "pleasing aroma" as we offer ourselves to Him. We do this in service to others. We do this by loving others and in the worship we bring to our Lord and savior, Jesus.
"Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship." - Romans 12:1
As my donation finished and as the needle was removed from my arm, the person attending me commented on the I Am Second bracelet I was wearing. I told her, "It means God is first, and I am second. No matter what."
There is life, eternal life, in the power of the blood of Jesus Christ. It was his blood that was "poured out on the earth" as a sacrifice, once and for all. Propitiation is the word. His blood, our sins. Covered. It is finished.
I think that from now on, when I donate blood, I will offer up the communion verses from 1 Corinthians 11 when Jesus said, "This is my blood. Do this in remembrance of me." And so I offer myself, my blood, as a sacrifice to the one who gave ME life, and life abundant.
For a related story on blood donation, please read - Jared