The Shepherd of Hope blog is here to serve you, to help you know Jesus better and to find hope in Him. This blog relies on the Spirit of God using the word of God to build people of God. All material has been prayerfully submitted for your encouragement and spiritual edification. Your questions and comments are welcome.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Follow the Scent of Blood

“You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me.”  - John 5:39


Every summer there is a Shark Week by one of the channels on television. It is a week to air programs on sharks and those who interact with them. Sharks are scary. It’s a scary week. Sharks can sense a small droplet of blood from 3 miles away.  If you’re bleeding and in the ocean, it’s like ringing the “Come and get it!” dinner bell for a shark. You had better get out of the water or you’ll be the delectable dinner attraction to a relentless black eyed predator.

Did you know that a bear’s sense of smell is seven times better than a blood hounds? It is. A bear can smell blood from twenty miles away. Did you know that the Kodiak Grizzly bear found in Kodiak Alaska is the largest land predator in the world? A Kodiak Grizzly is about five feet tall at the shoulder when on all fours. A Kodiak stands an average of ten feet tall when on its hind legs. They weigh up to 1500 pounds. There have been Kodiak’s that were as big as 12 to 14 feet tall and 1600 plus pounds. These predators can run as fast as a horse. They have been clocked at 35 miles an hour. There start isn’t bad either as they have been timed at running 100 meters in 10.3 seconds. That’s good enough to place in an Olympic dash! Put this all together and the Alaskan wilderness isn’t the place for the accident prone or one given to flesh wounds.

Jesus spoke to His bloodthirsty opponents and said, “You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me.”  (John 5:39). John the Baptist, the first prophet to appear in 400 years and a man of strict integrity and holiness, bore witness to Jesus. He said Jesus was the Lamb of God who had come to take away the sin of the world (John 1:29; 5:33-35). The works Jesus did bore witness as a sign of who He was (John 5:36). And God the Father Himself bore witness of Jesus (5:37a). But Jesus’ opponents refused to acknowledge the evidence provided about Jesus. They refused to hear Jesus. They shut their eyes to see God’s “form” (cf. Heb. 1:3). They turned a blind eye to the hand of God in the ministry of Jesus (5:37b). They didn’t have God’s word “abiding in” them (5:38a). That was evident by their rejection of Jesus (5:38b).

If we are going to be real and honest, the vast majority of people don’t reject Jesus as Savior because of a lack of evidence. People reject Jesus because they want to rule their own lives. They want to remain in their sinful lifestyles. They want to hold onto things that God calls sinful. They don’t realize God loves them and whatever He asks a person to put aside or leave behind is lovingly for their best interests. The sinner’s heart is filled with the things of this world and lusts of the flesh. The sinner’s heart is filled with wretched refuse the enemy has deceived them into believing is more important than knowing the God of the universe personally. They have been deluded into loving spiritual death. They walk with a death sentence hanging over them. The devil has them in a strangle hold. The seeds of the gospel are being choked out of them (cf. Mark 4:18-19). And they love it so.   

“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked” (Jer. 17:9). So deceitful is the heart that it can manipulate the holy word of God to its own devices. That is what the opponents and rejecters of Jesus were doing. Do you know it’s possible to “search the scriptures” and miss the entire point of them? The scriptures “testify” of Jesus. Every time a person opens a Bible their prime directive should be to ask, “What is the Holy Spirit saying about Jesus in this portion of scripture?” The volume of God’s Book speaks and points to Jesus (e.g. Heb. 10:7). And yet cults, critics, and charlatans “search” the scriptures and “find” exactly the opposite of what God reveals in His word about His Son Jesus.


The word “search” (Greek ereunao) in John 5:39 means to search diligently. The origins of the word come from the idea of an animal following the scent of prey. In its most rudimentary origins ereunao means, follow the scent of blood. Jesus’ opponents hunted Jesus looking for a way to murderously spill His blood (e.g. John 11:53). They were bloodthirsty in the most devilish way.


There is a putrid scent of blood. There seems to be more and more blood in Television and on the big screen. A quick Google search snaps up: “The 20 Essential Vampire Movies and the “List of the Top 20 Vampire Shows on Television.”  I’m sorry but I don’t see anything “essential” or “top” about the genre of vampires sucking blood. There is the “living dead” genre on the big screen and television. In these works people are infected with a virus that drains them of all their humanity and reduces them to a mass of walking dead. The remaining “living” people run for their lives and pause only to hack, bludgeon, and cave in the skulls of the afflicted who've been sapped of their humanity. Then there are the various movies and television programs that have become more and more graphic in their “real” life depiction of blood spilled. Since 9/11 we've seen online videos of decapitations or some other grisly body dismemberment. Our world is becoming bloodier. There is a demonic bloodlust in the air.


The world may be blinded to this bloodlust, but Christians are often caught up in it too. In Proverbs Solomon was inspired to wisely warn, “My son, if sinners entice you, do not consent. If they say, ‘Come with us, let us lie in wait to shed blood; let us lurk secretly for the innocent without cause; let us swallow them alive like Sheol, and whole, like those who go down to the Pit; . . . . For their feet run to evil, and they make haste to shed blood” (Prov. 1:10-12, 16). Most people don’t actually shed “innocent . . . blood.” But Jesus calls us to a higher standard. He said thinking lustful adulterous thoughts made a person just as guilty of adultery as if they actually participated in the act itself. If that is Jesus’ standard, isn’t entertaining and exposing oneself to bloodiness on the big screen and Television also sinful? (cf. Mat. 5:27-28). Jesus said you can murder a person in your heart and so “be in danger of hell fire” (Mat. 5:21-22). Taking in the bloody “art” of the world is not such an innocent indulgence in light of those words of Jesus is it? It’s not “fun.” It’s offensive to God. It dilutes the true significance of His revelation about blood. If you follow the putrid scent of blood it might lead you straight to hell!


There is a pure scent of blood. There is a scent of blood in the Bible that leads to redemption. The word “blood” is mentioned 357 times in 424 verses in the Bible. In the Garden of Eden the Father spilled blood to provide animal skins to cover the nakedness of sinful Adam and Eve (Gen. 3:21). Circumcision, the sign of covenant with God, requires cutting and the shedding of blood (Gen. 17). Blood marked the homes of God’s people to be passed over and spared God’s death sentence in the Exodus (Exodus 12; cf. Romans 3:25). The blood of the Old Testament sacrifices leads to the cross of Christ where Jesus shed His blood for our redemption (compare Leviticus; Gal. 3:24; and Hebrews 10). Jesus leaves His scent of blood throughout the word of God.


God has shed His light on Jesus in His word. And that light reveals a crimson flow of the atoning blood of Jesus. In Gethsemane Jesus prayed for the devil’s prey with holy sweat of “great drops of blood” (Luke 22:44). Jesus inaugurated a ritual to help His followers never forget that the New Covenant was a product of His shed blood (Mat. 26:28; Mark 14:24; Luke 22:20). This bloody sacrifice of Jesus must be accepted and owned by those who would experience His saving atonement for sin (John 6:53-56). Jesus was beaten bloody (Luke 22:63). He was mercilessly scourged bloody (Mat. 27:26; Mark 15:15; John 19:1). He was pierced and bloodied as sinful people nailed Him to a cross and crucified Him (Mat. 27:35; Mark 15:24-25; Luke 23:33; John 19:18). Lastly, Jesus’ side was punctured to let the last drop of His redeeming blood spill in a cleansing flow (John 19:34). Peter later wrote, “knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot” (1 Peter 1:18-19). Follow the scent of blood to Jesus; “the precious blood of Christ.”


The blood of Jesus was shed at the hands of violent sinful men. Jesus was beaten bloody and nailed violently to the cross. He stepped down from His throne into our violent world knowing full well His mission would lead Him to a bloody cross. But that blood was turned from a symbol of violence into a symbol and sign of God’s love. The Father so loves the world that He gave His Son Jesus for this mission (John 3:16). Jesus loves us so much that He submitted to the Father’s plan and, “humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross” (Phil. 2:8). This bloody mission is a demonstration of the extent of God’s love for the unlovable (Rom. 5:8). There is no greater example of love than Jesus’ shed blood for the lost; for us (John 15:13). Blood equals love.


Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sin (Leb. 17:11; Heb. 9:22). It is the shed blood of Jesus and only the shed blood of Jesus that can cleanse us from the sin that separates us from God (cf. Isaiah 53; 59:1-2). The only way sinful people can receive spiritual life and enter into an eternal relationship with God is through the shed blood of Jesus. The cross has been reduced to jewelry. But the blood of Jesus shed upon it brings it back to life.  The modern church often puts the cross on display but too seldom mentions the blood of Christ; sometimes not at all. God lights up the blood! His spotlight is on the blood! It’s the blood! That is light from the Lord. “But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7). It’s the blood of Jesus that has the power. Light. Blood. Love.


Sadly, Jesus went on to say, But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life.” (John 5:40).  This really is the reason people go unsaved. They are “not willing to come” to Jesus. Jesus has made a way that the dead sinner “may have life.”  The issue is not one of lack of evidence. The Father literally spoke and did miracles as a sign of who Jesus was and is. It’s not a matter of God not proving the extent of His love. Jesus died and shed His blood for our redemption, our salvation, to cleanse us from our sin. And yet people still chose to not follow Jesus. The same is true in our day.


People choose to remain in sin, sinful lifestyles, rather than follow Jesus. It is a matter of willful ignorance and willful rebellious refusal to surrender to Jesus as Savior and Lord. No one will go to hell because God did not give ample opportunity to avoid that destiny. Everyone in hell eternally will be there as a matter of choice. And that sinful decision, that sinful choice of their dark destiny will be a source of eternal regret for them.


Rejecting Jesus and His shed blood is no small offense. Putting off a decision in light of the shed blood of Jesus is blasphemous; it is the supreme offense to God. The writer of Hebrews was inspired to share some bloodcurdling words when he wrote, “Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know Him who said, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord.” (Heb. 10:29-30). Indecision is decision. Now is the time to choose to follow by faith the scent of blood to Jesus.


Which scent of blood are you following, putrid or pure? Follow the pure and holy scent of blood. It leads to Jesus. Surrender to God and let, “the blood of Jesus Christ His Son” cleanse you from all sin. Now, what is your decision?



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