Blood is spilt upon sand. We have all seen the images; we have seen the killing and the dying eyes. Time and again, beyond the walls of our cities, death is done. Look closer, and we see it also within the walls. It is what we do; it is what we have always done. Those of us who have not beheaded have bullied and deceived and betrayed. We have offended, and the blood cries out.
Out of the desert there came a healer. He bound up those that bled. Those that drew the wounds were convicted by his love. Those that were convinced were healed in their turn. They had oppressed the poor, betrayed the trust of their own people, and yet at once were full-bloodedly behind him, seeking now only to love and to heal. Not all were convinced, and those whose brutality he challenged struck out in fear. Beyond the walls of an occupied city death was done to our healer.
Our healer. In the great tide of human bloodletting, why should our story be that of this healer at all? Because he loved, and his was not the faltering love, so easily diverted and perverted, that we think we find in ourselves, or in those we think we love. His was not a bloodless love. It was God’s love, in flesh and blood.
We that deceive and betray, that bully and behead, were shown love by God. God put out a human hand, and touched us. He who cast galaxies across the sky cast nets with fishermen. The mercy of God, however, could not be long endured. He drew out confusion and anger and fear, and let them spend themselves upon him. Unbowed by fear, he showed us the end of fear, in a broken bleeding body. God’s blood, poured out for us, to convince us of His love.
Those who have been so convinced are a people bought by God’s own blood. We are a people. Our stories all lead back to a single point, one decisive act, and we tell the story of that act to one another over and again. That act unites us all, and we are mandated to further that union by serving and loving each other, by sharing wine and breaking bread.
We are a people bought. We have changed hands, at a price. We had been in the hands of those that hate us, not least ourselves. Cowed by systems of oppression, ruled by anger and pride and fear, we withered. Sin held us. We are in the hands of another now, the hands of one who loves us with a steadfast love, who treats us with a tender mercy, who knows better than we do ourselves where lies our joy.
Those hands are God’s: we are a people bought by God. The author of all things, who reigns from everlasting to everlasting, stooped from His high throne to act on our behalf. It is all His initiative, His gift, His magnificent condescension. God has called us, and we belong to Him.
The price is blood: we are a people bought by blood. We who were bound by cycles of blood, could only be freed by the gift of blood. Until we have seen the disfiguring power of sin unleashed upon the body of the righteous one we will not understand that power well enough to fight it. Until we have seen love battered by sin, even to death, and yet remain still love, we will not have the strength to fight. It takes blood to buy the bloody.
We are a people bought by God’s own blood. God’s initiative; God’s blood. God gives himself to the uttermost for our sake. Yet in this self-gift of supreme deity we recognise the suffering of a fellow. For our healer is human, weary and anguished and frightened as we are. His pain is our pain; he bleeds as we bleed. Except that he bleeds God’s blood. For this man is of one substance with the Almighty Father, there is not a shadow of separation between him and the very heart of Godhead. God chooses to affix himself to us by nails, to bind himself to us by blood, to be broken by us and for us, so that together we may all be whole in him, now and forever. This is what it is to be Christian: to be part of a people bought by God’s own blood.