This is That

The Kingdom of God is it.
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THE LIFE IS IN THE BLOOD

The life is in the blood - Martin Young
Image: Marco Verch. Flickr.
Being part of a Covid survey has meant that I have taken a test every month. Now I am also giving a blood sample to see how effective the vaccine might be. To take the sample means pricking a finger or thumb. This was not easy. I seem to bleed freely when I accidentally cut myself but jabbing my finger on Friday evening only yielded the tiniest of drops. And it felt weird to be sticking needles in my family. I’m also not an acupuncturist. Nor a witch, who said in Macbeth, “By the pricking of my thumbs, Something wicked this way comes.” But, along with many others, I am very concerned when Sleeping Beauty starts her spinning wheel hobby…

Shedding blood is a strong theme, not just in literature, but in the bible. After the first murder in Genesis 4, where Cain kills his brother Abel out of jealousy and a hard heart, God says to him that his brother’s blood is crying to God from the ground. And later in the book of Leviticus, God declares that when it comes to people and animals, “the life is in the blood.” We know that now, scientifically, as we do blood tests to determine how healthy we are – which is why even the smallest pinprick of blood has significance for us in stories and in real life.

After the blood of Abel crying out from the ground, the next mention of blood in the bible is at the end of the story of Noah. Noah, his family, and all the creatures are rescued from death. He has endured a rain-soaked lockdown like ours; decided, in a rather obsessive way, to have a lot of lockdown pets; had to manage, feed and exercise them in the confines of his Staffordshire-canals-style, trendy-lockburner-fitted, wide-rather-than-narrowboat. By the end he is so desperate that he drinks too much, and they all start eating meat. But God calls the blood of people and animals the ‘lifeblood’ and declares that whenever an animal’s or person’s blood is shed, he sees it and accounts for it. Because shedding blood is the ultimate sacrifice – whether it is an animal who dies to feed a human, or a human who dies because of anger, war, revenge, or greed.

When I give my blood sample, I am reminded that my life is in the blood – it is seen, known, and understood. And when I read about Jesus’ blood it makes more sense now. His blood is healthy and life giving. Whatever it covers becomes clean and comes back to life. I no longer need to be fearful of what blood test I receive back; nor of the witch’s wickedness or Sleeping Beauty’s curse, that may attach itself to my actions. Noah sadly fell into shame and anger after his lockdown experience. Jesus, perhaps alluding to that incident and the sacrifices in Leviticus, said in John 6: 53, “I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you cannot have eternal life within you. 54 But anyone who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise that person at the last day. 55 For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. 56 Anyone who eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. 57 I live because of the living Father who sent me; in the same way, anyone who feeds on me will live because of me.”

The life is in the blood.

Martin J Young
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