“… for the life of the body is in its blood.” Leviticus 17:11a NLT.
Leviticus 17 speaks against consuming blood, and instructs the way to offer a sacrifice.
“I have given you the blood on the altar to purify you, making you right with the Lord. It is the blood, given in exchange for a life, that makes purification possible.” Leviticus 17:11b NLT.
Instructions for the native Israelite and the foreigner living among them who “goes hunting and kills an animal or bird that is approved for eating, he must drain its blood and cover it with earth. 14 The life of every creature is in its blood. That is why I have said to the people of Israel, ‘You must never eat or drink blood, for the life of any creature is in its blood.’” Leviticus 17:13-14 NLT.
This is the image, blood poured out upon a field, that stays with me when I read Matthew.
3 When Judas, who had betrayed him, realized that Jesus had been condemned to die, he was filled with remorse. So he took the thirty pieces of silver back to the leading priests and the elders. 4 “I have sinned,” he declared, “for I have betrayed an innocent man.”
“What do we care?” they retorted. “That’s your problem.”
5 Then Judas threw the silver coins down in the Temple and went out and hanged himself.
6 The leading priests picked up the coins. “It wouldn’t be right to put this money in the Temple treasury,” they said, “since it was payment for murder.” 7 After some discussion they finally decided to buy the potter’s field, and they made it into a cemetery for foreigners. 8 That is why the field is still called the Field of Blood. 9 This fulfilled the prophecy of Jeremiah that says,
“They took the thirty pieces of silver—
the price at which he was valued by the people of Israel,
10 and purchased the potter’s field,
as the Lord directed.” Matthew 27:3-10 NLT
Judas is weighted down with remorse at the realization of his betrayal. It is a guilt he cannot carry, and a pardon no man can issue. The leading priests and elders had no desire to help him.
“What do we care?” they say.
“That’s your problem,” they say.
The money purchases a cemetery for foreigners, this field of blood, blood where life is found. With the distinction of native and foreigner in Leviticus, and the cemetery for foreigners purchased with blood money in Matthew, the way is laid out–a way for everyone who believes that Jesus died for their sins.
Father, no ordinary man can take away the guilt or shame of my sin. Left with this burden, I would also be weighted to hopelessness. Even in my beginning years as a Christian, I couldn’t grasp freedom from the burden, just a growing shame of my humanity. How I recognized my need for a savior. Only the blood of your son could take away my sin, make a way for life (now and eternally), and make purification possible. It is time in your word that tells me again and again of your great love. When the world is quick to condemn and leave me weighted down by my imperfections, mistakes and sins–you don’t give up on me, your mercies new every day, your faithful love unending. I am grateful.