Post number 3 of 3 on “Blood.” Once again, this is taken from Dr. Paul Brand and Philip Yancey’s book, In His Image.
“This property of blood, which can be shared from person to person, gives meaning to a word used in the Bible that has otherwise seemed puzzling to me: the word overcome… ‘Overcome’ connotes strength and commanding power: a terrorist with a machine gun overcomes an airplane crew; a huge Japanese sumo wrestler overcomes his opponent. On the other hand, ‘blood’ connotes weakness and failure- a bleeding person has been overcome.
“Why does the apostle use this jarring combination of words? The answer, I believe, lies in the biological pattern of how blood overcomes.
“At a very tender moment, during his last evening with the disciples before his crucifixion, Jesus said this: ‘In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world’ (John 16:33). At that time the declaration with its heady ring of victory did seem heartening. To those of us who read those words in retrospect, however, His words have a strangely hollow tone.” (92)
He continues on the next page to explain, “When the power of God confronted the power of men, Jesus, who could have called on angelic reinforcements, chose to yield to a handful of soldiers with their whips and nails. The distinction between overcoming and being overcame has blurred.
“…God’s visit to our planet is primarily remembered not for its display of raw power but for its example of representative suffering. A pattern emerges through the refining fire of suffering: God responds to evil not by obliterating it, but by making evil itself serve a higher good. He overcame evil by absorbing it, taking it on himself, and, finally, by forgiving it. Jesus overcame as the One who goes before, by going right through the center of temptation, evil, and death.
“…[I]magine God, after looking with great sadness on the virus of evil that has infected His creation, casting aside His own prerogatives to take on the shell of a victim cell of that abhorrent virus in order to vaccinate humanity against the death and destruction that are sure to follow. An analogy points to truth weakly; nothing could have more force than the simple assertion, ‘He became sin for us.'” (93)
Dr. Brand went on to describe an epidemic of measles that broke out and threatened to harm his infant daughter if she was not immunized. They were able to find “someone who had experienced measles and had defeated that disease” (94) and she”fought off the disease successfully.” (95)
“There is a sense in which a person’s blood becomes more valuable and potent as that person prevails in numerous battles with outside invaders. After antibodies have locked away the secret of defeating each disease, a second infection of the same type will normally do no harm. A protected person has ‘wise blood,’ to use a term Flannery O’Connor originated. Could this process cast light on the description of Christ being ‘made perfect through suffering’?
“…The blood of Jesus Christ has overcome. It is as if He went out of His way to expose Himself to temptation, to encounter the stress and strain you and I will meet- to gain wise blood for our benefit.
“…Today, when we partake of Communion wine, it is as thought our Lord is saying to us, This is My blood, which has been strengthened and prepared for you. This is My life which was lived for you and can now be shared by you. I was tired, frustrated, tempted, abandoned; tomorrow you may feel tired, frustrated, tempted, abandoned. When you do, you may use My strength and share My spirit. I have overcome the world for you.
“An overwhelming, sudden temptation can catch even the strongest Christian off guard. We need to be prepared, and the symbol of the blood reveals how: by relying on the wise and powerful blood of the One who goes before us.” (95)