An Eternal Tragedy and the Precious Blood of Christ1
Just a few weeks ago I read about one of the most heart-breaking and eternally consequential tragedies imaginable. It was touted as the world’s largest religious festival (known as the Kumbh Mela) and concluded when nearly two million people took a dip in the River Ganges in India. The Ganges River is worshipped as a god and is believed to be the giver and taker of life. By immersing themselves in its sacred waters, they believed that their sins were washed away.
More than 120 million people attended the two-month-long event that occurs every 12 years at the conjunction of two sacred rivers on the outskirts of the northern Indian city of Allahabad.
A tent city covering more than 5,000 acres was constructed, together with five electrical sub-stations and tens of thousands of streetlights. More than 35,000 makeshift toilets were brought in for the event.
The end of the Kumbh was marked when a mass of dreadlocked “holy men” plunged into the river, while other pilgrims filled plastic bottles with Ganga Jal (holy water) to be used in religious ceremonies at home.
So why not just ignore the event? What difference does it make? If these people feel encouraged and believe the guilt of their sins has been cleansed, what’s the harm?
The harm is that there is no cleansing from sin, whether in India or Indianapolis, except through faith in the blood of Jesus Christ.
The Apostle Peter reminds us that we were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from our forefathers, “not with perishable things such as silver or gold [and certainly not by means of the water in the Ganges River], but with the previous blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot” (1 Peter 1:18-19).
We have been ransomed and redeemed, not because the H2O in a filthy river has divine powers, nor because someone took a pile of silver or a bag of gold to a temple and gave it to some pagan god or goddess. We have been ransomed because God the Father put forth the precious blood of his Son, Jesus Christ, as the purchase price for our lives.
Why is the “blood” of Christ precious? Peter doesn’t mean “precious” as we do when we first set our eyes on a new born baby and say, “Oh, she’s so precious!” Precious does not mean cute or cuddly or sweet or endearing. Here it means priceless! Costly! Of infinite value! The blood of Christ is precious because it is a spiritual treasure of immeasurable proportions.
And why is it of infinite value and of unfathomable worth? For numerous reasons.
First, it is “precious” because of him whose blood it is. It is “precious” blood because it is the blood of the Son of God, the most glorious and grand and righteous and powerful and loving and gentle and good and holy and humble man who ever lived: Jesus!
But second this “blood” is also “precious” because of what it can do!
The blood of the cross can accomplish what all the silver and gold and platinum and diamonds and rubies and all the wealth of the world cannot do. Yes, money is a wonderful thing. It can purchase comfort and physical blessings and nice homes. But it is powerless to ransom captive souls from sin!
The blood of the cross can accomplish what education cannot. Yes, education broadens the mind and enlightens the understanding and captivates the imagination, but it is powerless to convert the soul and renew the spirit and fill the heart with joy in Jesus!
The blood of the cross can accomplish what science cannot. Yes, science can improve the quality of our lives on earth and protect us from infectious diseases and create devices that improve our communication. But it cannot redeem us from sin or impart forgiveness or give us hope in the face of death.
The blood of the cross can accomplish what technology cannot. I’m grateful for technology, for the airline industry that enables us to travel around the world, for the laptop computer on which I do my work and write my books, for the heating systems that keep us warm and the air conditioning systems that keep us cool. But technology cannot regenerate our hearts or bring us into the true knowledge of God.
The blood of the cross can accomplish what all the alleged “holy water” in the world cannot.
Praise God for water and nuclear energy and economic development and the entertainment industry and athletics and the international banking system. But for all their good, they cannot do what the blood of Christ can do. They cannot ransom us from sin. They cannot redeem us from judgment. They cannot give us God. But the blood of Christ shed on Calvary’s tree can!