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"If God is sovereign, then his lordship must extend over all of life, and it cannot be restricted to the walls of the church or within the Christian orbit." Abraham Kuyper Common Grace 1.1.

Friday, 3 April 2015

A Good Friday meditation - by Abraham Kuyper


Abraham Kuyper

In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace (Ephesians 1:7).

At Venice, in a Roman Catholic church, officials will show visitors a drop of Jesus’ blood, spattered upon a piece of cloth, carefully preserved. Whether this drop of blood was actually shed by Jesus can never be proved. That it was not is as hard to demonstrate. There is nothing to say against supposing that one of the women who followed Jesus, out of tender regard for Him, blotted up with her skirt some of the blood spattered against the cross or oozing from the thorn-pierced brow. It is not impossible to believe that this piece of cloth was carefully preserved, that it tremulously passed from mother to daughter, until it eventually passed into the hands of ecclesiastical officials.

But, even though nothing compels us to regard such a piece of cloth and drop of blood as unactual, even, in fact, if the actuality of these could be scientifically demonstrated, that bloody mark upon that piece of linen would add nothing to our faith. Granted that the blood were actual, it would not be that blood of which the apostle said that “through it” we have redemption. To those who penetrate more deeply, that drop of blood is blood no longer. Blood is a material substance which has life. When that life leaves it, when that blood congeals and dries, it is nothing more than decaying matter. It has neither life nor potency.

Hence, God’s people may not look to such a preserved particle of the blood of Christ for redemption, but must look to the red blood of Christ, to the blood of Christ when it was still blood, when Christ’s life still coursed with it, when it was still warm by reason of the life-warmth of the exertion of our Lord’s soul.

There is no atonement without blood. Hence, no one may mock the confession of the church of God which asserts that redemption comes by “faith in His blood.” The scornful laughter of the ungodly at the so-called “blood-theology” will, we fear, some day severely aggravate their suffering. Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints: How much more precious, then, the death of the Son of God? Nor are we to believe the interpretation that this love was revealed in that blood and that it is really by His love, not by His blood, that we are saved. For the love of Christ is as clearly manifest in the statement made in the counsel of peace: “In the volume of the book it is written of me, I delight to do thy will.”

No, but the Church of God must, in a literal sense, cling to the beautiful teaching of the apostles and must in quiet reverence confess that she has her redemption through His blood.

That does not, of course, mean that that blood was the source, the fountain out of which salvation flowed, or that the Lord God was first moved to reveal His grace by that blood. Those who think so are not familiar with the Holy Scriptures. The apostle adds the explanation that blood is effectual only according to the riches of His grace. That means, then, that the source of the blessedness, the fountain of salvation, lies not in the blood but in God’s eternal grace, which is superabundantly laid away as a treasure for all His elect. Nevertheless, the Church clings tenaciously to the truth that in the incomprehensible counsel of eternal grace, saving grace is in its effects attached to the blood of Christ. Let no one wishing to avoid that condemnation try to break that relationship between grace and blood. “For the life of the flesh is the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul.”

Hence we need not guess or conjecture, but we can know what is the seat, the source of this mystery of grace. That source lies not in the corpuscles nor in the plasma, but in the soul of the body.

An animal, or a human creature, is really a wonderful organism. One can come upon it as a composition of matter and moisture lying prostrate. Suddenly one sees it move, arise and approach. One hears sounds issuing from it, and, if it is a human being, one hears songs of freedom and of praise. How is that possible? The Scriptures say that is due to the miracle of blood. Conceive, if you can, of the creature you saw without blood. The composition of matter would crumble then and would decay. But the creature has blood. Hence it has life, unsearchable, incomprehensible life, and that life, the Scriptures say, exists in the blood. God, the Creator of animal life, tells us: “Life, the soul of the body, exists in the blood.” Hence the seriousness of illnesses of the blood; hence the fatality when thirst causes the blood to become parched. Whatever affects the blood affects the whole human being.

Everything depends, therefore, upon a true and certain knowledge that our Refuge and Mediator really poured out His blood for us. That does not mean, of course, that all of our Saviour’s blood flowed away. In fact, very little blood flowed from Jesus’ wounds before He died. It gushed forth only after the spear had been thrust into His side afterwards. Before that, a little had oozed from His whipped shoulders, a little from His thorn- lacerated brow and a little from the wounds of the nails in His hands and feet. It was not a matter of quantity, but of the soul of the body contained in it.

The certainty we needed for full assurance of redemption was this: That He poured His blood for us, that the soul of the body contained in that blood was again separated from it by death, or, in Isaiah’s words, that “He hath poured out his soul unto death.”

John appreciated our need of that assurance most. The Lord God knew that we needed it. Hence He planned it so that a brutal soldier, doing what no one who loved Jesus could have done, profaned Christ’s body by driving his spear into it. Therefore he who loved Jesus, the beloved Apostle John, seeing that brutal act, confirmed it for us preciously, saying that “he saw it” and that he saw that the water issuing from the wound was blood no longer. “Forthwith came there out blood and water.” By that statement we are assured that the soul of Christ’s body had departed from it.

Taken from: Kuyper, A. 1960. The Death and Resurrection of Christ: Messages for God Friday and Easter. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, pp. 60-62.

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