Spilt blood

It was actually a good question. We had just sung the great song “Marvelous Grace of Our Loving Lord,” and someone asked a question about the following lines:

“Yonder on Calvary’s mount outpoured,
There where the blood of the lamb was spilt” (Julia H. Johnston).

The phrase “blood of the lamb was spilt” sounds as if Jesus’ blood was spilt accidentally. “Surely that’s not right,” the questioner asked, “Jesus offered his blood on the cross very deliberately, in order to save us from sin.”

He was right. Jesus laid his life down quite deliberately: “I lay it [my life] down of my own accord,” Jesus declared, “and I have authority to take it up again” (John 10:18).

Modern usage of the phrase does make it sound as if something spilt was accidental. However, the dictionary offers a second connotation of the word “spill.” Observe:

“To cause, or allow to run or fall from a container, especially accidentally or wastefully, to spill a bag of marbles. To shed (blood), as in killing or wounding,” (Webster’s Dictionary).

“Spill blood, be guilty of bloodshed. Spill the blood of, kill, or injure a person” (Oxford).

So if you kill someone or something, you have “spilt blood.” Thus a hunter who shoots a turkey has “spilt” the bird’s blood, and sadly in war, much “blood is spilt.” Used this way, the term is exactly what Scripture teaches about Jesus’ death on the cross.

“Knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without spot or blemish” (1 Peter 1:181,9).

There indeed on the cross the blood of Jesus was spilt, and nothing has been the same since.

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Stan Mitchell

Stan has preached since 1976, in Zimbabwe, California, Texas and Tennessee. He serves as preacher for the Red Walnut Church of Christ in Bath Springs, TN. He is currently Professor of Bible at Freed-Hardeman University. He is married to the former Marjorie McCarthy, and has one daughter, Tracy Watts. He is the author of four books: The Wise Get Wiser, the Foolish More Foolish: The Book of Proverbs, Give the Winds a Mighty Voice: Our Worship in Song, and Equipping the Saints for Ministry. He has recently published another book, "Will Our Faith Have Children: Developing Leadership in the Church for the Next Generation.

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