God Does Not Need Blood to Forgive You

Atonement Needs No Blood: Jesus Did Not Have to Die for Anyone

by Ibn Anwar, BHsc (Hons), MCoLLT

 

A person who claims that blood is absolutely neceessary for the atonement of sins is one that needs to have another careful look at the Torah and even the New Testament. There are, in fact, many verses throughout the Bible that show that God does not require blood in order to allow for atonement of a person to occur. One does not, however, need to supply every verse that teaches bloodless atonement as one verse that demonstrates that would be sufficient to demolish any idea that says God has to have blood in order to forgive.

In the Book of Leviticus we learn about the different offerings that are allowed for the sinner to offer as sacrifice so as to receive atonement and what is evident is that blood is not the key to enable that. In Leviticus 5:11 God gives a concessionary option for atonement to those that belong to the poorer caste in society:

“‘If, however, they cannot afford two doves or two young pigeons, they are to bring as an offering for their sin a tenth of an ephah of the finest flour for a sin offering. They must not put olive oil or incense on it, because it is a sin offering.”

Unlike the rich person, the one that has little to give is allowed to offer flour and he would succeed in achieving atonement with that bloodless offering just like his rich counterpart that would have to offer something more substantial like an animal. ‘The Stone’s Edition of the Chumash’ states:

“God took pity on a poor man and assigned a very inexpensive offering to him so that he could afford to attain atonement.” [1]

Notice that the flour is not to be just any flour but one that is fine, i.e., the best flour possible. And the same condition of an offering being the best of the lot can be seen in the typical animal sacrifice, e.g., the best calf is to be given as offering and not one that is sickly or blemished. What becomes clear then is that the real condition for an offering to be acceptable is that it be, within the means of the giver, one that is of the finest quality and not one that contains blood. Blood is not the key that enables atonement to be achieved because if it were then God would have been fooling the poor man into thinking his bloodless offering of flour could atone.

The New Testament

There are many examples recorded in the New Testament that demonstrate the act of divine forgiveness that required no shedding of anyone’s blood like the instance of Mark 2:9 where Jesus informs the Paralytic that his sins were forgiven and Jesus was still alive at that point in time and nobody had died on behalf of that person for him to be assured forgiveness. But an even more glaring instance of forgiveness or atonement occurring without any need for blood sacrifice comes from Jesus’ own teaching in no greater a prayer than the Lord’s Prayer itself.

In the memorable Lord’s Prayer that Christians often use in liturgy and in personal communion with God, there is one verse with regards to atonement that rather stands out:

“and forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who have sinned against us.” (Matthew 6:12; ISV)

The above verse is so potent in affirming bloodless atonement and forgiveness of sins that it completely shatters the myth that it was ever necessary for God to have blood to forgive the transgressing soul. In the verse in question the only apparent condition that enables atonement is that the sinner forgives his own enemies or those than have offended him and God would in turn offer the same grace and forgive the repentant sinner that makes the above prayer. In reality there is no condition at all that is attached to forgiveness in the verse. What may appear as a condition is really an argument petitioned to God which basically has the repentant sinner reason with his Creator in which he contends that since he can and is willing to forgive those that transgress against him then God, being the Merciful Lord that He is, ought to be willing and can forgive His contrite servant that asks to be forgiven.

It is clear that the verse is opposed to the idea of blood sacrifice as the condition for forgiveness or atonement because the forgiveness that is taught in it is one that is to be offered without the demand or expectation for any kind of payment on the forgiver’s part as he freely forgives his offender or one that owes him debts. Therefore, God in equal manner, would forgive us as debtors or sinners, without demanding any payment except our own sincere desire to repent which leads us to come to God in the first place with the prayerful petition of the Lord’s Prayer.

Biblical scholars and commentators M. Eugene Boring and Fred B. Craddock in their commentary on Matthew 6:12 writes:

“Sin is here thought of as a debt owed to God, a debt one cannot pay. Without presumption, but in confidence, the disciple is taught to ask for God’s forgiveness. God’s forgiveness is UNCONDITIONAL, precedes human forgiveness of other human beings, and is its ground and cause.” [2] (emphasis added)

Craddock and Boring make it clear that, according to the verse in the Lord’s Prayer, God’s forgiveness is ‘unconditional’ and that necessarily implies that He would not need to demand payment in the form of blood or in any other form imaginable before He is able to forgive the repentant sinner. He is freely able to forgive whenever He so desires. After all, He is the Supreme Lord of all existence.

We should return to the creed of Jesus of bloodless atonement which was the original concept of salvation that Jesus had in mind and taught his disciples during his earthly ministry.

Notes:

[1] Scherman, N. (2000). The Chumash: The Torah, Haftaros and Five Meegillos with a Commentary Anthologized from the Rabbinic Writings. New York, Brooklyn: Mesorah Publications. p. 563

[2] Boring, M E. & Craddock, F. B. (2010). The People’s New Testament Commentary. Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster John Knox Press. p. 37

 

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