It catches me by surprise nearly every time.
The ending of a life that I thought had years left.
A newborn who didn’t see life for more than a few weeks.
A daddy who didn’t make it home to dance with his wife or play with his kids.
An unborn slipping to Heaven before opening his eyes to life outside the womb.
A young mama caught in an accident while her young ones go on without her.
A grandparent’s final goodbyes.
We are just vapors, held on earth for such a short time.
Yet, death surprises us.
Our hearts heave with the ache of tragedy,
we ask the hard “why’s”.
We feel as if something rightfully ours was stolen away.
But what if we are looking at life and death upside down?
Suppose that what we know isn’t how it is?
There’s a curious phrase found in the middle of a bunch of regulations given by God to His chosen people as He is describing special practices of Passover.
Towards the end of Deuteronomy 15, Moses is relaying God’s words regarding the Passover lamb.
It was to be one year old, without any defect, a perfect lamb.
It was to be sacrificed in an exact way and eaten in a specified area, and then the curious, seemingly random phrase that closes the chapter,
“Only you shall not eat its blood;
you shall pour it out on the ground like water.” (Deuteronomy 15:23)
We can get a clue as to why this was a practice God instituted by reading in Leviticus 17 where God says, “For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar;
it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life.” (Lev 17:11)
Repeated several other times is the phrasing, “the life is in the blood.”
Fast forward centuries to that gripping moment in the upper room where Jesus is partaking of that same Passover supper with His disciples.
He breaks the bread and declares that it is His own body (a perfect lamb),
being broken as a sacrifice.
Then He raises the cup and tells His disciples
that the wine is His blood,
poured out for the forgiveness of sins (just like the Passover lamb).
Here’s the lynch pin, the game changer, the subtle one-liner that turned everything upside down for the disciples and for us.
Jesus says, “Take, and drink.”
Jesus told the disciples the wine was His blood, His very life,
and these good Jewish men were supposed to drink it?!
This command went against everything they had known.
Blood was off limits. Every time.
But Jesus knew something they didn’t fully realize yet.
Yes, His life was in His blood,
but without that Life inside of us,
we are already dead.
Blood was restricted because
no life could come from something that was already dead.
But the cross changed everything.
The spotless Lamb of God, who willingly poured out His life-blood,
did so that we might be filled up with a life that defeats death. Because Jesus turned the tables on death by offering His life up for us to drink,
this transient life can be just the beginning of a life that will never end.
Our hearts ache as we lose loved ones.
Death takes us by surprise.
But for those who have been filled up by the life of Christ,
whose sins have been washed clean in His blood,
the surprise of death is that
Life Wins and Death Dies.
“Behold I have come that you may have life,
and that you may have it to the full.”
– Jesus, John 10:10