Article: Contradiction of the cross and The revelation of the cross
In the context of the teaching on sacrifice, we are often asked: “Doesn’t the bible say that without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins?”
Well that’s not exactly what it says. Lets look at Heb 9:22 HCSB
“According to the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.”
First point to notice: “According to the law”
Many things that were introduced by the law only finds their full and final meaning in Christ. The book of Hebrews is focussed on helping people who were totally invested in the message of the law, to see beyond the shadows and types of the law and realize its true meaning.
As such the sacrificial systems was only a type: God spoke to us in sacrificial language because that is what we could understand, but he brought that conversation to a final conclusion in the perfect sacrifice. For a God who, ‘does not require sacrifices and offerings’, the perfect sacrifice is the one that forever invalidates our sacrificial systems. He is the perfect sacrifice, because He is the first real sacrifice: a self-sacrifice, a self-giving of love. He is the perfect sacrifice because He subverts our perverted understanding of sacrifice.
If this law system worked, Jesus’ coming would have been unnecessary. Jesus, therefore, did not come to simply affirm the message of the law, but to turn it upside down … to reveal the substance behind the shadows. He fulfills the law not by meeting its every requirement, but by bringing its shadows to an end.
The second point to notice is: “… ALMOST everything is purified by the blood”. That little word ‘almost’ becomes very problematic if one thinks that forgiveness is not possible without blood. That is also why the whole verse is often not quoted, so that the phrases ‘according to the law’ and ‘almost everything’ can be avoided.
The background to this verse is the Levitical sacrificial system. The amazing thing about this Levitical requirements for atoning sacrifices are that they did not always require blood! (Lev 4:1-6:7)
If a person was too poor to afford the usual sacrifice, then a grain offering was accepted. God was not going to allow blood to stand between His desire to forgive and a person in need of forgiveness!
So then, even under the law, blood was not always required as a pre-requisite for forgiveness.
In the very chapter in which the perfect sacrifice of Jesus is discussed (Heb 10) we are again reminded that sacrifice and offerings was not required by God! His blood was what we required, not what God required.
And now His blood speaks of better things than the blood of Abel (Heb 12:24) The blood of all innocent victims, since Abel, called for vengeance, called for retributive justice. Unfortunately we have often reduced the message of the blood of Christ to speak the same message as Abel’s blood when we referred to it as the blood God required to enable Him to forgive sins. No! His blood has a better message – His blood calls for forgiveness not vengeance!
This is why His blood purifies our conscience – it communicates God absolute, unreserved forgiveness even while we were at enmity against Him.