Note: This piece is creative speculation intended to make the reader think by connecting and exploring themes. Don’t get too hasty in your assumptions. If you do, then you don’t know how to read me. Which is fine but….
My high school biology teacher wasn’t great. He’s probably a decent guy, but I believe he was the type of man who simply wanted to coach, yet had to teach a class or three in order to do that. I don’t know if he had much of a background in biology, or if he was learning along with his students during his first year as a teacher, but it was rough for all of us. We focused on cellular structures and functions from August to April, when he realized that we still needed to work our way up through more complex creatures, like vertebrates and were supposed to end with the bipedal animals by the first week of June, with finals taking place days after that.
During that pedantic journey through the world of single-celled beings, the class watched an animated film that elaborated at length on the theoretical evolution and purpose of blood. It posited that initially, simple creatures just floated around in water. They ate and breathed in the same substance they crapped in (typically, through the same orifice, if I remember correctly). It seems that this was mostly acceptable because the cells with the specific jobs of taste and smell hadn’t developed yet.
Somehow, an order emerged. To compete with each other, cells banded together. They became things. Things grew into creatures. Creatures got larger because they had to in order avoid being eaten or becoming lost in the evolutionary mucky-muck. As living things became increasingly complex, some cells lost their direct access to the sea and the water that brought food and carried waste away. But they still needed sustenance. And they still excreted stuff that had to go somewhere far away. It turns out that one doesn’t want to deliver that to their neighbors, especially neighbors of the conjoined variety.
This problem had to be addressed before creation made its way onto the dry land, away from oceans disorder and primordial excrement. The evolutionary answer turned out to be specialized cells that delivered nutrients from the outside world and carried waste back to it somehow. Thus, blood came to be. Blood essentially replaced salt water as the source of life for cells and creatures composed of many cells. It should be noted here that in Old Testament Jewish thought, the ocean represented chaos. It was this hot mess that the Spirit hovered above in the Genesis.
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The Jewish people didn’t eat or drink blood. Yahweh had told them not to, indicating that the life of an animal is found in its blood. When Cain killed his brother Abel because sibling rivalry is real, his blood cried out to God from the ground. Various pagan religions of the region held similar beliefs and therefore did weird things with blood. But not the Jewish people, because their God had told them not to be weird. He prohibited strange attempts at stealing the life of an animal using its blood.
He had other plans for it anyway.
Blood was poured out. In massive quantities. Life was spilled in order to cover the places where death had made its presence known. Sin offerings resulted in the deaths of countless animals. Blood covered the horns of a sacrificial altar and was sprinkled on all the things, including priests. Everything was bloody and it turns out that it wasn’t a bad thing, necessarily.
Animal brain and heart cells and nerves all died as they were deprived oxygen and stuff like that as the life poured out of animals’ bodies into bowls. If I’d been a goat, I think would have been indignant to die for a human, but then again, goats are willful beasts, aren’t they? But sheep, they seem to be nicer and perhaps more compliant somehow anyway.
These regular sacrifices started in Egypt, where these people had been claimed by the god, I Am who I Am. One night, after plagues and other strange things had happened in Egypt, these people were directed to kill a lamb. Each household did it and they painted their doorposts with its blood, understanding that hours later, after they’d eaten its meat that anyone who didn’t have that blood, that life, that stuff that replaced the ocean on their doorposts would lose people they loved. The firstborn of each house who hadn’t followed these directions were killed by an angel.
Not only that, but these people, the Hebrews who had been claimed by this God, fled from the dead and grieving and angry Egyptians through a sea. They passed through the salt water- the Red Sea. Blood is red and it’s got more life in it for us now than the ocean does. Once we were out of it, that place represented chaos. God delivered his people from the Egyptians through chaos and former life to the desert where all they had was him. This is where they were directed to start sacrificing animals.
Fast forward a ton of time and plenty of gallons of blood to this man named Jesus. Yeshua. The Jewish people (the Hebrews) had been celebrating the event called the Passover for generations at that point. It was a commemoration of that meal before the angel of death passed over the Hebrew homes and killed the Egyptian firstborn children. The Hebrew deliverance from Egypt by this enigmatic God had become a defining moment for these people. They celebrated it to remember who they were and what their God was capable of. This Jesus had turned the world upside down with his preaching, backed by miracles like giving blind people sight, deaf people hearing and raising the dead. He also made some lepers more socially acceptable by healing them.
During this celebratory meal with his students- his friends, he broke bread and claimed that it was his body. Then he passed a cup of wine around, indicating that it was his blood, which would be poured out for many. This man’s life was about to be spilled for the people of the world. Hours later, Judas, the worst friend ever- showed up with a bunch of armed idiots and he kissed Jesus, which was his secret code for this is the one!
Jesus would go through a semi-confusing trial and a few interviews, be beaten, have a crown of thorns thrust on his head- points digging into his skin, breaking it, causing bleeding. Everything else was bloody at that point anyway. Later, nails would pierce his hands and feet as he was nailed to a cross. Something the Roman empire was fond of doing to people it didn’t like.
This man’s blood crept from countless wounds. Again, cells starved and died. Life fled from a body. But that blood was different. It was the blood of the God whose spirit had hovered over the waters of chaos and single-cell organisms so many years before. It was that God and Spirit who brought order out of chaos, who caused organisms to grow and change, to develop and take those first steps out of the water. This Spirit caused blood to replace ocean as the source of life and this Spirit was at it again- this man would not stay dead. This God-man might have died as compliantly as a lamb, but he would rise again. And new life would be found in his blood. A spiritual life that would not be found anywhere else. This blood would have enough life for all of humanity throughout all of history, but it would be effective only for those to whom it had been revealed as such.
This life would be different, too. It wouldn’t be measured in heartbeats. In fact, physical lives would still fail and creatures would continue to die. But those found covered by the blood would rise again to life, just like the man who was God who shed that blood for them. When the people of this blood were resurrected from the first death, they’d find themselves in a place where the sea was no more. The chaos and former life would be gone and neither would ever again be seen. Survival and competition would no longer concern these people. The first things of the ocean and its life would no longer matter. Truly, only him who had died on that cross and shed his blood would matter at that point. And he would make the people matter by way of association.