Henry Dunant, a Swiss banker and philanthropist was known for his efforts to begin the YMCA in Geneva in the 1850s. When Henry saw the terrible images of death and injury on the battlefields of the Napoleonic wars, he worked to establish the International Red Cross. It was a cooperative service of nations to provide neutral medical assistance. The symbol of the cross tied this effort to the Christian faith.
Today the Red Cross must daily collect nearly 14,000 blood donations to meet the needs of patients across the U.S. Those injured in last month’s deadly hurricanes benefited from the generosity of our citizens and the incredible work of the Red Cross.
In his book, Blood Works, Horace Smith writes: “Our bodies contain approximately 60,000 miles of blood vessels … Through this delivery system, blood provides everything our cells need to live, and they take away waste that would poison us. At the cellular level, capillaries are so small that they are about the size of a single red blood cell … To connect with all the cells in the body, capillary walls cover an area of about 70,000 square feet … The circulatory system is the epitome of consistency. Every day, the heart beats 100,000 times, and over an average lifespan, this amazing machine beats 2.5 billion times, pumping 60 million gallons of blood. During this time, the heart never takes time off. We can’t afford for it to take a break—even a few minutes without blood supply causes severe brain damage or death. Virtually all other cells in the human body are stationary, but blood is mobile tissue, carrying nutrients to every part of the body … protecting us from harm and healing our wounds.”
In the Bible we read, “…the life of every creature is in its blood” (Leviticus 17:14). The sacrifice of Jesus’ blood on the cross puts “life” into a spiritual perspective. “How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!” (Hebrews 9:14) His blood saves lives for all of eternity.
Whenever I give blood at the Hoxworth Blood Center I understand my limitations. My offering can only help those who share my blood type. But our Lord’s blood is universal. It heals all people of sin. The cross is the place where all believers meet to honor the God who loves us. “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). In the Lord’s Supper we eat the bread (his body) and drink the cup (his blood) so that we will not forget. Jesus died for all.
We respond to the blood of Christ by living generously for the kingdom. We make sacrifices of our time, our strength and our resources. Corrie Ten Boom once said, “We are gloves. It is the Holy Spirit in us who is the hand, who does the job. We have to make room for the hand so that every finger is filled.” But not just once in a while.
Jesus said, “‘If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me’” (Luke 9:23). The cross declares that life matters, and that Jesus gave his blood for everyone in the world. We’re to take up the cross each day as we follow Jesus.
Pastor Ken Atchison
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com.