His Soul Poured Out
I wanted to explore with you this morning a little further than when I was last here speaking to you in a Bible study. We were discussing the matters of baptism, and how it is that when we join the sufferings of Christ His blood is released and is actually bringing us back from the dead with Him. Likewise, as we have discussed, when we join in His sufferings our other law is overcome; it is made powerless. So we are free then to give ourselves to actually be the sons of God. This is quite an extraordinary understanding that has come to us. When we have explored it in Romans it has become very obvious. In fact, I was bringing it in one place when one of the men came to me afterwards and said, “Why did we not know this? It is obvious!” And it is obvious that Jesus came back from the dead and we also come back from the dead with Him.
How is it that a Christian overcomes sin?
The real question for wrestling with, and this is exactly what Paul was wrestling with the Romans about, was: how is it that a Christian overcomes sin? If you recall, in Romans 6 Paul was quite, to say it was ‘emphatic’ was to put it mildly I expect, ‘How can it be that we who died to sin still live in it?’ Rom. 6:2. Through many kinds of religious compliances, somehow most Christians come to the point where they say, ‘Well, I just do the best I can’, accepting that is the normal Christian life.
However, Christians, generally speaking, find then they are continuing in sin, even when they have been wonderfully blessed by God, (Rom. 4 and 5) and then discover that there is no capacity to actually be free from sin, even though being wonderfully blessed by God. So how to actually come into that realm of Romans 8 has been the mystery; being sanctified, crying out ‘Abba Father’ and going on to fulfil a personal predestination as members of the body of Christ. Rom. 8:15.
Of course, the key that Paul points out to the Romans is that we join with Christ in the sufferings of His death. Rom. 8:17. As soon as we do that our other law is conquered and we are free to be sons of God. Rom. 8:13-14. We are no longer obliged to somehow try to cope with Paul’s dilemma and ‘despair’, shall I say, when he cried out, “Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” Rom. 7:24. That is quite a terrible state. It is no wonder one of the apostles says, ‘And the latter state is worse than if they had not believed in the beginning’.
So to have this unfolded to us - that there is a way to be delivered from this other law that works in my members, and you in your members, the members of our bodies - to be delivered from that is such a wonderful thing; such a relief, praise God.
The blood of Christ
I want to explore with you another step forward in that: the blood of Christ.
20 And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood.
Jesus is talking about pouring out His blood. We know that is in His journey from Gethsemane to the cross. It is a New Covenant in this blood. We know that in Gethsemane His blood began to be shed and from there at every point along the way, at every point of suffering, indeed every step along the way, His blood was being shed and He was being brought back from the dead.
Now the only way we can reasonably cope with that is to accept that Jesus died in Gethsemane. I’m not sure that is actually settled in the hearts of many, because most of us intuitively go to the cross where before He breathes His last He says, “Into Your hands I commit My Spirit”. Luke 23:46. We intuitively look at that as His death. If death is when someone’s spirit or their soul actually leaves their biological body, well yes, that is fair enough. Reality is that He was committing Himself into the hands of the Father, He was being restored to fellowship with God and that is life. In fact to be in fellowship with God is eternal life. Jesus makes that very clear in John 17:3, This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. “
Blood and life
Jesus is talking about pouring out His blood so now we are going to explore the matter of blood and life, and see how it is that the Lord has ordained for these things to be effective towards us.
11 For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you on the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood by reason of the life that makes atonement.’
Here is a fundamental and very basic understanding that the Lord is unfolding for the Israelites at that time. We do need to understand that there are two types of life and of course we intuitively know this: there is biological life and there is soul life. When we are talking about the substance of who someone is we may not be talking about their biological bodies but we are usually talking about the substance of their person, their soul, and who we know them to be.
When the Lord said in Genesis 1:20, 20 “Let the waters teem with swarms of living creatures”, living creatures here is biological life; it is not soul life. We would have to accept that even animals have some kind of soul life. You would know the nature of some pets, that there is some kind of nature or soul life that is characteristic. The fact that they have biological life is that they move, they eat, they breathe; there is blood and oxygen and nutrients. That is all biological.
The soul resides in the blood
But we are talking here about soul life. When the Lord says, ‘For the life of the flesh is in the blood’ He is not talking biological life. He is talking soul life. The word used there for life means soul; it is the Hebrew word nephesh, compared with the biological life word which is chayah. So the life is in the blood. You remember we are talking about soul life, so when we go further and consider this verse just one step further we can accept that the life is IN the blood. The life is not the blood itself.
Now we can get a little bit confused here. Most of us, when we read a verse like this one in Leviticus, would be thinking ‘life’ means biological life. We know that the life is in the blood; when you get rid of the blood the thing is no longer alive, right? And of course that makes perfectly reasonable sense.
But the Lord is talking about the soul life that is given to us on the altar. Of course this is figuratively, futuristically, speaking of Christ, but this was the pattern of offering that the whole nation was gathered in. So it is the soul that is in the blood. So the red blood cells with oxygen, platelets and plasma, is not it. The soul is resident in the blood. Interesting isn’t it? The implications will begin to unfold as we explore this further. Remember Leviticus 17:11 for it is the blood by reason of the life, soul, that makes atonement.’
Isaiah 53: 12
Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great, and He will divide the booty with the strong;
because He poured out His soul to death.
Now when I first read that I sort of winced a little bit because, ‘hang on He poured out His blood; it is all about blood!’ Back in those days I would think in terms of symbols, and I still do, but Isaiah specifically here is talking about soul; He poured out His soul. Now we know He poured out His blood, but we have just read in Leviticus where it is the soul life that is in the blood. So when Jesus was pouring out His blood, He was pouring out His soul. Even Isaiah prophesies it. You will be interested to note that it is actually the same word, nephesh, here in Isaiah as it was in Leviticus.
His sufferings are the means by which He poured out His soul
We came to understand, the last time we were exploring baptism, that His sufferings are the means by which His blood was poured out. Let me rephrase that, His sufferings are the means by which He poured out His soul.
Now, I am pausing here for a moment because the implications are just beginning to be realised, aren’t they? It is not the literal blood of Christ - because He had biological blood just like everybody else - but His soul. His soul, that life of the Everlasting Covenant, that soul life in His blood, which is called His blood, but it is the life in the blood. It is the life of the Everlasting Covenant; shall I say, it is the soul life of the Everlasting Covenant that was poured out for us.
The soul of Christ will be expressed in our works
Let’s step through these things slowly because, recall with me that, at the Last Supper Jesus said, “This is the new covenant in My blood.” Luke 22:20. So when you are reading blood, when you are thinking blood, begin to make this adjustment in your thinking: soul - Jesus; soul - life.
Now obviously one of the major implications is that we are not just talking about symbolic terms. Consider for example, washing hands with water. When hands are washed with water, they become clean. (A little soap may be needed.) This is not a symbolic understanding, it is literal. When we talk about garments being washed in blood we are talking symbolically. Rev. 7:14. Now obviously, to think literally, that is just silly. Get a big bowl of blood and put clothes in - they are not coming out white! He is talking about soul. When our garments, the works that God has given to us, are washed, completely permeated, with the soul-life of Christ everything about our works becomes clean. Heb. 9:14. Doesn’t that make sense to you? Because it is the actual soul of Jesus that is being expressed in the works that we are doing. This is not symbolic at all.
One of the further implications is that when people look on us they will see Christ. Gal. 1:16, Rom. 8:19. They will actually see the living expression of the soul-life of Christ. Now there are other scriptures in the New Testament that unfold that further. We won’t go there just now; let’s explore this a step at a time.
When we join Him in His sufferings we are receiving His soul
His sufferings are the means by which His blood, or rather His soul, was poured out for us. When we join Him in His sufferings, we are sprinkled with His blood, we are receiving His soul. We are receiving His capacity to come back from the death of sin. We are receiving His capacity to redeem us from all sin back to Himself to become His slaves, members of His body, doing the work of His sonship, because we have received His soul.
The reason that we get caught in sin in the first place is because from our own souls we have good ideas, ‘other law’ ideas about how we can best serve the Lord. Rom. 7:25. We always find that we then come back under the law of sin and we find that we are opposed to God. Then we hear a word and it feels pretty hard but it is all because we have come back under the law of sin and death, and ‘O wretched man that I am.’ Rom. 7: 24.
Jesus himself in the garden of Gethsemane was saying, “Not My will but Yours be done” so for us, I believe every Christian has to go there. Matt 26:39. Because, so far as I understand, every Christian comes to the point of saying, ‘I do not want to be obedient to You today, Father.’ I hope that we all go the next step and say, ‘Nevertheless, not what I want, but what You want.’ As we do so we are drinking the cup.
The substance of Jesus Christ is received into our own beings as we join Him in His sufferings
Jesus, at that point, was drinking the cup. To Him that was the cup of sin and judgement. For us then, He gives us a portion of His cup, that is our life circumstances and even the sins that we have found in ourselves and the judgement that has rightly come to us; just like the thief on the cross, we deserve what is happening to us. As we accept that, joining Christ in that, seeing His capacity of His soul, His choices, His attitudes, His motivations, His obedience to His Father, His willingness to follow through at every point as a Son of the Father, Jesus’ own soul capacity to do that is sprinkled on us, given to us. We receive that of Him and we actually receive His capacity to come back from the death of sin because it is a matter of the soul. His soul! His choice, His obedience, His love, His honour, His worship, His offering, His mode, His way, His diligence. All of that then becomes something that fills our own hearts and our own lives because we have received His soul. No wonder Paul says, “The life which I now live in the flesh, I live by faith of the Son of God.” That’s in there. “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.” Gal 2:20. Soul-life. His soul.
Now let me pause for a moment. Can I encourage you just to relax? Let’s relax. Let’s not hear symbols. We are not talking symbols today. We are talking the reality. This is not a symbol, it is not a type, it is not a shadow. This is the substance of the person of Jesus Christ received into our own beings as we join Him in His sufferings. That makes sense, doesn’t it? This is why Paul is saying, “I have been crucified with Christ.” He joined with Him in His sufferings literally, not figuratively. “It is no longer I who live.” It is not about what I want, what I think is going to make me live. “But Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.”
Now if we were to read that logically from a fallen Greek perspective as probably many do, and even translators, have to rephrase that to be faith in the Son of God, because ‘I believe Jesus existed.’ That kind of verse is quite difficult to come to terms with just from a Greek perspective. But when we actually consider what it is to join with Christ in His sufferings and that His soul-life in His blood was poured out for us and we received that, we receive His soul-life, the only consequence is to have this kind of an expression. Why do you think John, the apostle, says something rather strange, like “But as many as received Him (His soul life), to them He gave the right [the power, the capacity and the authority] to become children, sons, of God.” John 1:12. And it is not trying to work up authority, courage or capacity. It is His capacity because we received Him. It is His soul!
This is new creation
We have a rather unique matter to consider regarding Christ. I think we are all on board. Isn’t this good? Jesus is unique in this way. He was able to pour out His soul and stay who He was. Let’s go back to the biological. We bought a really sharp kitchen knife. I mean, it is really sharp. It cuts magnificently anything that comes under that blade, including fingers. So we have been familiar with losing a bit of blood. But when I lost a bit of blood I thought, ‘My goodness, there is red stuff. It is blood and it is mine!’ I wasn’t too happy about it being mine. It was blood, but I was not on the chopping board. Some of my blood was, my biological blood. But when Jesus poured out His soul and gave us His soul, He gave us Himself. This is new creation. 2 Cor. 5:17. This is new creation, where He could actually pour out His soul and we could all have His soul, and He could still entrust His soul into the hands of the Father. He is there and He is here and He’s here and He’s here. This is new creation. Never has there ever been anything like this in creation before.
How we treat others in the body is how we treat Christ
So the term, ‘The body of Christ’ is not figurative at all. It is not an analogy. It is literal! How we treat each other is actually how we treat Christ. Matt. 25:40, 1 Pet. 22-23, Heb. 6:10. How valuable is every member? It is helpful just to begin to let these things settle. There comes such a flood of realization and illumination. His capacity to come back from the dead. His capacity to overcome sin. His capacity to stand up free. His capacity to live. His capacity to be delivered from ‘O wretched man.’ His capacity to restore, to make alive, to recover, to clothe, to enable, to foster, to multiply life in the giving of His own soul. This is why He is our Lord and Saviour.