What does the Bible say about the blood of Jesus?
Jesus Christ was fully God and fully man when He lived on earth. Human blood flowed in His veins. When Jesus died on the cross, that blood flowed from His body as a sacrifice for sin. That blood atoned for the sins of the world. The atonement applies to anyone who believes in Jesus. We receive eternal life through His death and resurrection.
How was Jesus’ death related to blood sacrifice in the Old Testament? What does it mean to be covered by the blood of Jesus? When people sing, “There’s power in the blood,” what do those lyrics mean? This article will unpack the answers to these questions and more.
Christian quotes about Jesus’ blood
“Morality may keep you out of jail, but it takes the blood of Jesus Christ to keep you out of hell.” Charles Spurgeon
“Atonement by the blood of Jesus is not an arm of Christian truth; it is the heart of it.” Charles Spurgeon
“There may be some sins of which a man cannot. speak, but there is no sin which the blood of Christ. cannot wash away.” – Charles Spurgeon.
Blood sacrifice in the Old Testament
Animal sacrifice goes back to the very first family on earth. God accepted Abel’s blood sacrifice but not Cain’s sacrifice of produce (Genesis 4:3-5).
God gave Moses explicit instructions on when and how to offer sacrifices. The animals had to be perfect, with no blemishes. Why did God command blood sacrifices of animals in the Old Testament? Did they really atone for people’s sins? No, not in and of themselves.
- “. . . it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.” (Hebrews 10:4)
The sacrifice of these animals was profoundly symbolic. They pointed to a death in the future: a perfect sacrifice, once and for all. Sin can be covered. God’s wrath against sin can be satisfied by the substitution of another. But not an animal – by His perfect Son. He was both the High Priest and the sacrifice.
- “But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things to come, He entered through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation. And not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.
For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been defiled, sanctify for the cleansing of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” (Hebrews 9:11-14)
Leviticus 17:11 (ESV) “For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it for you on the altar to make atonement for your souls, for it is the blood that makes atonement by the life.”
Leviticus 1:4-5 “You are to lay your hand on the head of the burnt offering, and it will be accepted on your behalf to make atonement for you. 5 You are to slaughter the young bull before the Lord, and then Aaron’s sons the priests shall bring the blood and splash it against the sides of the altar at the entrance to the tent of meeting.”
Exodus 12:13 (KJV) “And the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye are: and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt.”
Leviticus 9:9 “His sons brought the blood to him, and he dipped his finger into the blood and put it on the horns of the altar; the rest of the blood he poured out at the base of the altar.”
Leviticus 5:9 (NLT) “Then he will sprinkle some of the blood of the sin offering against the sides of the altar, and the rest of the blood will be drained out at the base of the altar. This is an offering for sin.”
2 Chronicles 29:22 “So they slaughtered the bulls, and the priests took the blood and splashed it against the altar; next they slaughtered the rams and splashed their blood against the altar; then they slaughtered the lambs and splashed their blood against the altar.”
Exodus 24:8 (NIV) “Moses then took the blood, sprinkled it on the people and said, “This is the blood of the covenant that the LORD has made with you in accordance with all these words.”
Leviticus 1:15 “Then the priest shall bring it to the altar, twist off its head, and burn it on the altar; its blood should be drained out on the side of the altar.”
Leviticus 4:18 “He is also to put some of the blood on the horns of the altar that is before the LORD in the Tent of Meeting, and he must pour out the rest of the blood at the base of the altar of burnt offering at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting.”
Hebrews 9:11-14 “But when Christ came as high priest of the good things that are now already here,[a] he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not made with human hands, that is to say, is not a part of this creation. 12 He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, thus obtaining[b] eternal redemption. 13 The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. 14 How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!”
Covered by the blood of Jesus
The refrain of an old hymn ends with, “My sins are all covered by the blood.” What does that mean? The answer begins in the book of Exodus:
- “Then Moses called for all the elders of Israel and said to them, ‘Go and take for yourselves lambs according to your families and slaughter the Passover lamb.
And you shall take a bunch of hyssop and dip it in the blood which is in the basin, and apply some of the blood that is in the basin to the lintel and the two doorposts; and none of you shall go outside the door of his house until morning.
For the LORD will pass through to strike the Egyptians; but when He sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, the LORD will pass over the door and will not allow the destroyer to come in to your houses to strike you.” (Exodus 12:21-23)
The Israelites were covered – protected and delivered – by the lamb’s blood.
- “For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for your souls upon the altar; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul.” (Leviticus 17:11)
“Covered by the blood” means Jesus had paid our debt of sin, and we’re forgiven and purified.
- “But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, His Son, purifies us from all sin.” (1 John 1:7)
Romans 3:25 (NIV) “God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished.”
Romans 4:7 (ESV) “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered.”
Ephesians 1:7 “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.”
1 John 1:7 “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.”
Hebrews 9:22 (NASB) “And almost all things are cleansed with blood, according to the Law, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.”
2 Corinthians 5:21 “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin in our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”
1 Peter 1:19 (ESV) “but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.”
Hebrews 8:3 (NKJV) “For every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices. Therefore it is necessary that this One also have something to offer.”
Ephesians 2:13 (ESV) “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.”
Romans 3:26 “He did this to demonstrate His righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and to justify the one who has faith in Jesus.”
Romans 3:22 “And this righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no distinction.”
Romans 8:1 (KJV) “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.”
The power of the blood of Jesus
The Bible compares the blood of Jesus with the blood of Abel: “and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood, which speaks better than the blood of Abel.” (Hebrews 12:24)
Abel’s blood poured out when his brother Cain murdered him. Abel was the first person to die, and it was a violent death. His blood cried out to God (Genesis 4:8-10).
In his book Blood Work, Anthony Carter notes, “When Abel’s blood cried out for revenge and retribution, the blood of Christ cries out for redemption . . . This is the power of the blood of Christ in the life of the redeemed . . . our lives are marked out not by revenge but by redemption.”[i]
When the power of the blood is operating in our lives, we don’t want revenge; we want our enemies redeemed. The power of Jesus’ blood doesn’t just bring us forgiveness, but it brings purity. It doesn’t just take our sins away; it enables peace and growth in the knowledge of God.
Hebrews 13:12 “And so Jesus also suffered outside the city gate to make the people holy through his own blood.”
Romans 4:25 “He was delivered over to death for our trespasses and was raised to life for our justification.”
Romans 3:25 “God presented Him as the atoning sacrifice through faith in His blood, in order to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance He had passed over the sins committed beforehand.”
Galatians 2:20 “I have been crucified with Christ, and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.”
Romans 5:6 “For at just the right time, while we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.”
Revelation 12:11 (KJV) “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.”
Isaiah 53:5 “New International Version 5 “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.”
Hebrews 9:28 “so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him.”
1 Peter 2:24 “He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.”
Galatians 3:13 “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a pole.”
Colossians 1:20 “and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.”
Romans 1:17 “For the gospel reveals the righteousness of God that comes by faith from start to finish, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”
The benefits of the blood of Jesus
David Mathis says the blood of Jesus does five things:[ii]
- Propitiation: a sin offering that removes God’s anger against “our acts of cosmic treason.”
“whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in God’s merciful restraint He let the sins previously committed go unpunished” (Romans 3:25)
- Justification: declared righteous
“Therefore, since we have now been justified by His blood, how much more shall we be saved from wrath through Him!” (Romans 5:9)
- Redemption: set free by the payment of a ransom
“In Him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses.” (Ephesians 1:7)
- Forgiveness: restored into relationship with God
“now in Christ Jesus, you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” (Ephesians 2:13)
- Pacification: peace with God
“having made peace through the blood of His cross” (Colossians 1:20)
Seven places Jesus shed His blood
- In the Garden of Gethsemane, just before His arrest, Jesus sweat drops of blood as He prayed in anguish (Luke 22:44). He told His disciples to pray that they would not enter into temptation.
- Jesus bled when He was beaten (Matthew 27:26). “But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:5)
- Jesus bled when the crown of thorns was pressed down on His head. (Matthew 27:29) The soldiers were mocking him as the “king of the Jews.” But He really was king, not just of the Jews, but of the entire universe. Now, He is crowned with glory and honor (Hebrews 2:9). Thorns were part of the curse God put on the ground after Adam and Eve’s sin (Genesis 3:18). Christ redeemed us from the curse (Galatians 3:13).
- Jesus experienced bruising or internal bleeding from the abuse. “He was bruised for our iniquities” (Isaiah 53:5).
- Jesus bled when the nails pierced His hands. After His resurrection, He showed His nail-scarred hands to the disciples as proof of His victory over death. He told doubting Thomas, “Put your finger here and look at My hands.” (John 20:27) Jesus said that Thomas believed because he saw Jesus, but we are more blessed because we believe without seeing those hands (John 20:29).
- Jesus bled when the nail(s) pierced His feet. Now, God has placed everything under those feet that were pierced for us. (Ephesians 1:22)
- Jesus bled when the spear pierced His side. It proved that He was really dead, and not just unconscious. Since Jesus was dead, the soldier didn’t break His legs.
- John the Apostle said this fulfilled the Old Testament prophecy:
- “Now these things happened so that the Scripture would be fulfilled: ‘Not one of His bones will be broken.’” (John 19:36)
- This prophecy references Psalm 34:20 and God’s directions about not breaking the bones of the Passover lamb: Exodus 12:46, Numbers 9:12
- John also said it fulfilled the prophecy in Zechariah 12:10:
“And I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and of pleading, so that they will look at Me whom they pierced; and they will mourn for Him, like one mourning for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him like the bitter weeping over a firstborn.”
Luke 22:44 (NASB) “And being in agony, He was praying very fervently; and His sweat became like drops of blood, falling down upon the ground].”
Matthew 27:26 “Then he released Barabbas for them; but after having Jesus flogged, he handed Him over to be crucified.”
John 20:27 “New International Version 27 “Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”
Matthew 27:29 “And when they had platted a crown of thorns, they put it upon his head, and a reed in his right hand: and they bowed the knee before him, and mocked him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews!”
Ephesians 2:13 “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.”
Ephesians 1:22 (KJV) “And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church.”
Isaiah 53:5 “But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.”
Why did blood and water come out of Jesus’ side?
John 19:13-34 tells us what happened after Jesus died but was still hanging on the cross. The soldiers were breaking the legs of the other two men crucified with Jesus, so they would die quickly and could be buried before the Sabbath. But the soldier saw Jesus was already dead. To make sure, he thrust his spear into Jesus’ side, and blood and water came out.
Crucifixion caused death in one of two ways. One was shock to the body caused by blood loss (from the beatings and nails). This caused pericardial effusion or fluid around the heart. The other way was being unable to breathe in the hanging position. The person had to push up with his feet (with one or more nails through them) to get enough air in his chest. Of course, this was incredibly painful, and eventually, he would pass out from the pain or exhaustion or blood loss and die from asphyxiation. That’s why they broke the legs of the other two. They would have died within minutes. Asphyxiation also causes fluid buildup around the heart. When the spear pierced Jesus’ pericardial sac around His heart, blood and water poured out.
John 19:33-34 “New International Version 33 “But when they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. 34 Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water.”
- “You were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.” (1 Peter 1:18-19)
Jesus’ blood is precious to God and us. God’s only Son, His beloved, the innocent Lamb, gave His blood so we could live and have fellowship with God. The precious blood of Jesus is a vivid demonstration of God’s utter and unfathomable love for us.
- “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” (Galatians 2:20)