The Yearly Exam

It’s that time of the year when I succumb to the pokes and prods of doctors for my annual physical. The results are always good, but my cholesterol has ticked up this year. Sigh. With the announcement of my cholesterol rating came a list of other blood tests that rated my Potassium, Chloride, A1c, Vitamin D, and red and white blood cell counts.

What did it all mean? Was this important? Well, the lab that analyzed my blood thought it essential to the extent that it included an explanation of what each test monitored. Yes, you guessed it, curiosity got the best of me, and I read it.

The simplistic guide had much to say about the makeup of blood. Red blood cells (RBC), which look like Krispy Kreme doughnuts, carry oxygen from the lungs to the blood cells and back to the lungs to expel carbon dioxide created in the process.

White blood cells (WBC) are your body’s defense system and increase when a person is ill to help fight infections.

Blood also contains plasma. These watery cells make up sixty percent of your blood and help the body’s fluid to flow. Furthermore, plasma attracts waste products and cleanses the system of unwanted particles.

Cleanses? That is an interesting word. It reminded me of Old Testament laws and procedures for animal sacrifices, which temporarily washed an individual’s sin. The laws were simple; death and blood were integral to removing the stain of unrighteousness.

However, before the animal sacrifices his life, the person who brings the creature to the priest must lay his hand on its head. In so doing, the sinner transfers his guilt onto the calf, and it dies on its owner’s behalf.  

In Hebrews 9:19-22, it says, “For when Moses had declared every commandment of the law to all the people, he took the blood of calves and goats, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, saying, ‘This is the blood of the covenant that God commanded for you.’ And in the same way, he sprinkled with the blood the tent and all the vessels used in worship. Indeed, under the law, almost everything is purified with blood. Without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness of sins.” (Emphasis mine)

Animal lovers find that thought disturbing. It seems unfair to take the life of something innocent to absolve your guilt. A life of sin required a string of deaths as long as someone existed. That was the covenant God set forth for humanity.

Even though the animals’ blood paid the price for our sins, the creature could not provide us forgiveness, nor could their death save us from eternal punishment.

But Jesus changed everything. He died on our behalf. Out of love, he became the sacrificial lamb, which is pure, blameless, and spotless. Moreover, the Old Testament priests needed to sacrifice an animal for their unrighteous acts before performing the sacrificial ritual for another. Yet, Jesus Christ had no reason to kill an animal to atone for His sin. Because Jesus is holy, he is without sin or guilt. He paid the penalty of sin for us. Then, He allowed cruel men to put him to death and shed His blood on our behalf.

Hebrews 9:11a-14 explains it like this, “But when Christ appeared … he entered once for all into the holy places, not using the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.”

As we felt the unfairness of the death of an innocent animal on our behalf, how could we not feel the same for Christ, who took on our sins to pay the price for our unrighteousness? He secured our future and provided forgiveness of sin.

So, the next time you undergo a physical and look through your blood results, let it be a reminder that blood cleanses us from unwanted particles and keeps us healthy. More importantly, Jesus Christ’s blood provides forgiveness of sin and eternal life with Him.