A law that I am reluctant to introduce on a Sunday when so many are here for the first time, that might confirm in you the thought that religion is for a bunch of morose, hyper-moralistic, fun-hating hypocrites
Blood heals sin.
Blood heals sin.
I want to take us through four Biblical scenes where this is at work.
Scene I – The Garden
The first goes back to the earliest ever sin, you know the story, the story of Adam and Eve who took from the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil the garden of Eden
You don’t need to know the story, but you know that the story begins with Adam and Eve naked
And after taking the fruit of the tree they are ashamed, they are embarrassed.
This is about the fear we have of the damage that we can do to each other
The way that we can laugh at each other
Adam and Eve have no clothes because they trust each other,
And when the trust goes, they are embarrassed.
You see this in the development of young children
Very young children are happy to prance around in public without clothes, and are also quite trusting of strangers.
I don’t want to embarrass any of our children, but we have one child who is very happy to run away in supermarkets, and that child is very happy indeed to take all her clothes off in public beaches, and no doubt other places given the chance.
There is a link between being wary of other people and of our shame
And we have another child who will hold our hands in the supermarket
Who always insists that the car is locked when you go to pay for petrol
And that child will always insist on getting changed behind a bush or a sand dune whenever you are at the beach.
Because they have sinned, there is now a chasm between them
They are afraid.
And they have covered themselves in fig leaves.
But this is not enough.
They are still blaming each other.
God comes and says to the man – did you eat the fruit of the tree
And the man says “Yes” – no the man does not, the man does what men do well, he blames the woman
“The woman whom you gave me took it and I ate”
And there is this war, this fear between them
And what God does is takes skins, from the first ever death
And these clothes deal with the animosity that has come through sin, partially at least the law is at work
Blood heals sin.
Scene II – The Desert
The people of God, the Israelites, have escaped from Egypt,
And they are about to start a new community in the desert – forty years in the desert, and then the promised land.
And in any community there is going to be sin
There is going to be jealousy, there is going to be gossip, there is going to be violence
There is going to be betrayal,
And what is going to be done with that poison that can wreck a community.
There is going to be a day, when this gets dealt with
In Hebrews the day is called Yom Kippur
In English, the Day of Atonement, or the Day of Wiping Away.
Once a year, the priest will take a bull
And you will take a ram
And you will take two goats
And some of that blood he has to sprinkle on himself
And some of the blood is for the people and all the things they have done
And the goat and the ram and the bull you will take and you will kill them
And the remaining goat
That goat you will say all the sins of the people above it’s head,
And then you will send the goat into the desert
And that goat will be called a scapegoat.
And although we say this is an ancient practice
We still do this thing
Where sin deserves some kind of making right, some kind of retribution
It is not enough to sweep the thing under the carpet,
Even if someone who has done something terrible, and genuinely has remorse
There is something wrong if you simply say, “Well you seem to have changed
And it’s not like the punishment can take away the wrong,
But not to punish makes it even worse.
Blood heals sin
Or put another way, the only cure for sin is death.
Not just the public sins, but the ones that no one knows about
Not just the major sins, but also the small ones as well – every sin goes onto the head of the ram, the bull, the goat
When Al-Megrahi was released a couple of months ago, this law was at work, or rather being violated
Because people felt that if someone has been convicted of a crime, you can’t just let it go
The moral law of the universe demands a punishment.
And onto the head of the scapegoat.
What we do as society, is we like to find some really evil people
And blame them for all our problems, or round on them.
We did with Jade Goody, after celebrity Big Brother
We did it with the murderers of Baby P
We did with Nick Griffin,
And these people we want to crucify to cause maximum pain to
Because somehow it will make us better if they can be the ones who take the blame
For neglect of children
Or whatever other sins befall us.
Some how in some sort of twisted way, we are applying the law that says “Blood heals sin”
But the book of Hebrews also says this
The effect of all the punishment and all the scapegoating is only partial
We can hate Nick Griffin, but Britain will still be a racist country
And we can punish Al-Megrahi but it does not deal with the pain of the Lockerbie families
And we can send to prison the parents of Baby P and we can hound from office the head of the Social Work department who was suppose to look after her
But it does not bring that child back
And it does not make us a society better at looking after children.
Blood heals sin
Scene III – Outside The City
The third scene happens when a new Scapegoat is driven out of the city
Out of the city of Jerusalem
And this scapegoat is also sacrificed on a cross.
It is the death of Jesus.
And the writers of the New Testament say, you can’t understand this moment unless you remember the law “Blood heals sin”
That somehow his death, unjust of a just man, hatred visited on someone who only ever loved, violence upon a man who was gentle, human failure on the perfection of God,
This death heals all sin.
26 Jesus, then, is the High Priest that meets our needs. He is holy; he has no fault or sin in him; he has been set apart from sinners and raised above the heavens. 27* He is not like other high priests; he does not need to offer sacrifices every day for his own sins first and then for the sins of the people. He offered one sacrifice, once and for all, when he offered himself. 
His Death heals all sin
Scene IV – Throne Of Heaven
The fourth scene is in heaven, and it also comes from this passage in Hebrews.
23 There is another difference: there were many of those other priests, because they died and could not continue their work. 24 But Jesus lives on forever, and his work as priest does not pass on to someone else. 25 And so he is able, now and always, to save those who come to God through him, because he lives forever to plead with God for them.
Jesus represents us to God
It is what he does now.
The Union Rep Who is also the boss’s son
Those of you who know the business of being a Union Rep
Of representing employees, not so much who have done nothing wrong
But have done stupid things, and now they need a way out,
Which isn’t about getting what they deserve
But receiving compassion.
This is what Jesus is doing for us
He is the boss’s son, whose job is to look after us
Plead our case
Make it well for us
What we celebrate a communion is this, that Jesus gave his blood once and for all,
So that the punishment the death that was for our sin, was taken away
It is the death that heals.
This is the blood that is remembered in the cup,
This is the broken body remembered in the bread
This is the body and blood of Jesus, who died
As the sacrifice that dealt with our sin
Do you worry about your sins, do you have guilt that hangs around you,
Do you get bothered that your failings are repeated again and again, then let the blood of Jesus take these things away.
During the second world war.
When people gave blood for the use of the troops at the front, there was kind of odd thing that the name of the person who gave the blood was written on the bag,
So that when the bag reached the front, a soldier might know the name of the person whose blood had saved them.
The medics would scout around the battlefield during and after the battle
And they would find injured soldiers allied and sometimes German and they would give them this blood.
What American medics used to do
I don’t know if the British did this.
Was that they used to keep separate the blood that had come from Jewish donors.
And they would save that for the Germans.
It was a kind of irony – the people you hate, you cannot stand, are now saving you.
Occasionally you would get a Fanatical German soldier who was a Nazi, I guess often in the SS, and they would realise that this was going on, and they would protest, they would refuse to take the blood of a jew.
All because of a stupid pride, they wouldn’t accept the blood that would save them,
What the medics would do then was wait until the guy passed out, then give him the blood anyway.
There is a blood of a Jewish man which saves us all,
And we have to let down our pride and let this man be the one that saves us.
This is what we remember in this meal
A Jewish man, our high priest, died, took this law on that says stupidity sin deserves death
And died our death
That we might live.
The law of punishment and death has still been kept
But we are still alive, because of the priest who died to take away our sins.
* 7:27: Lev 9:7.
None. Good New Translation – Second Edition (electronic ed.) . ,: :