Necessary Blood 1

By R.C. Sproul

It's been a little over 50 years that I have been studying the mystery of the cross of Christ, and I've come to the conclusion that the day that I die and enter into Paradise, in the first 30 seconds that I'm there that I will have a quantum leap in my understanding of what took place on the cross.  Now I must be satisfied with the feeble efforts of my own study during my lifetime, and trying to penetrate all that was involved in that action on the cross outside of Jerusalem. 

We look at its exposition in the New Testament and we see it is multi-faceted.  Many nuances of the cross are set forth.  It's like a magnificent tapestry that is woven by several brightly hued strands.  Here is the idea of satisfaction.  Over here is the idea of substitution.  Over there is the concept of ransom.  Here the paying of the bridal price.  Still back there the idea of the kinsman redeemer.  Even in Galatians we find the motif of horror, the motif of the cross of curse that Christ endured at Calvary. 

But in all of these nuances and facets runs that flow of blood from Emmanuel's veins, and the question we ask is why?  Why all of this blood?  Was it really necessary that this blood be spilled for our redemption?  It was 40 years ago before the founding of the Philadelphia Conference on Reformed Theology that I was asked to speak in Philadelphia to a Quaker meeting.  At that time I was the professor of philosophical theology at the Conwell School of Theology on Broad Street in Temple University. I was asked by the Friends to come and explain to them the relationship between the Old Testament and the New Testament.

So I looked at the Passover.  I looked at the Day of Atonement, and then I brought it forward to the crucifixion of Jesus.  In the middle of that address, there was a man who was quite hostile in the back of the meeting, who was anything but friendly for a Quaker, and he interrupted my message by shouting out "That's primitive and obscene."  What do you do when someone interrupts your message with a statement like that? 

Well, just to give myself a moment to gather my thoughts, I said, "What was it you said?" as if I hadn't heard him.  He said, "I said that's primitive and obscene." I looked at him and said, "You know, you're right.  It is primitive."  I like that term because the naked simplicity of this body right of sacrifice is so graphic, so crass, that even an uneducated person can grasp its meaning.  Isn't it wonderful that our God does not require a PhD in theology to understand His method of redemption? 

The salvation is not restricted to some agnostic elite group who can penetrate this event of redemption.  "I like that word primitive," I said, "but the one I really like is the other word you used--obscene--because in the sight of a holy God, there is nothing more obscene than sin.  When God takes the cumulative sin of the people that he places upon his beloved Son after our sin has been imputed to Jesus, that cumulative concentration that hung on the cross was the most obscene thing the world had ever seen.  In fact it was so obscene that God refused to look at it.  That God turned His back upon it.  He turned off the lights.  It is primitive and it is obscene, and maybe these dimensions may cause us to choke a little bit."