Without the Shedding of Blood There is no Forgiveness (Hebrews 9:19-22)
“When Moses had proclaimed every commandment of the law to all the people, he took the blood of calves, together with water, scarlet wool and branches of hyssop, and sprinkled the scroll and all the people. He said, “This is the blood of the covenant, which God has commanded you to keep.” In the same way, he sprinkled with the blood both the tabernacle and everything used in its ceremonies. In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness” ( Hebrews 9:19-22 )
Both the Old and New Covenants were put into effect by blood. The blood proved the death, thereby enforcing and enacting the will of the one who died ( Hebrews 9:17 ). Leviticus 17:11 explains why the blood was used, “For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life” ( Leviticus 17:11 ). So it was necessary for both Covenants to be ushered in by blood, because first it proved the death because the blood is the life force. And secondly, it was given for atonement. So without it, there could be no forgiveness for sins.
Jesus’ blood was shed to usher in the New Covenant. His blood proved that a death had occurred thereby enacting His last will and testament. His blood was the price necessary for this will to come to pass, in other words, it put this covenant into effect. The New Covenant is not only the will of Jesus, whose blood ushered it in, it is also the will of God. Throughout Jesus’ time on earth He said over and over that His will was to do the will of the Father ( John 6:38 ). He stressed that what He said was only what the Father told Him to say ( John 8:28 ) and He did only what He saw the Father do ( John 5:19 ). His words and teachings were not His own but from the One who sent Him ( John 7:16 ). In fact John 6:38 summarizes this very nicely, “For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me” ( John 6:38 ). The writer of Hebrews starts chapter 1 by declaring that Jesus is the exact representation of God the Father ( Hebrews 1:3 ). Since they are one and the same, we can see that Jesus’ blood was the life force that was able to usher in the will of God, which was the New Covenant.
Not only did Jesus’ blood prove the death and put the Covenant into effect. Part of the New Covenant that God spoke of through the prophets included the forgiveness of sins ( Jeremiah 31:31-34, Isaiah 54:13, Hebrews 8:8-12, Hebrews 10:16-18 ). Leviticus 17:11 says the life force is in the blood and this is used as a means for atonement. So Jesus’ blood served multiple purposes, it enacted the Will of the Covenant and it was the cleansing agent for sin. If no blood was shed, there couldn’t be any forgiveness for sins.
The Vines Dictionary of New Testament Words brings clarification to this point. There are two words used for blood in Hebrews 9. The first one is haima, which has many meanings, but in this case it denotes the blood of sacrificial victims ( Hebrews 9:7 ). “The "blood" of Christ, which betokens His death by the shedding of His "blood" in expiatory sacrifice; to drink His "blood" is to appropriate the saving effects of His expiatory death, John 6:53. As "the life of the flesh is in the blood," Lev 17:11, and was forfeited by sin, life eternal can be imparted only by the expiation made, in the giving up of the life by the sinless Savior” (Vines Dictionary). In other words, life had been forfeited because of sin, which is why Jesus’ life was given so that He, as a sinless man, could impart eternal life through this sacrifice. Jesus himself said this, “I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day” ( John 6:53-54 ). Our life was forfeited because of sin, but Jesus’ blood was shed to forgive and restore us to a state as if we had never sinned in the first place ( II Corinthians 5:21, Hebrews 9:12, Hebrews 9:26, Hebrews 10:10, Hebrews 10:12, Hebrews 10:14, Hebrews 10:18 ). What an amazing truth!
The second word for blood used in Hebrews 9:22 is haimatekchysia, which means the “shedding of blood”, to pour out. Jesus didn’t just give His blood, He let it flow freely. In fact, it didn’t stop until every last drop had been given. He was poured out unto death, which is what Isaiah prophesied about Him, “Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors” ( Isaiah 5:3:12 ). His life force completely covered, cleansed and annulled sin. Our lives had been forfeited because of sin, however His blood completely reversed the effect of sin so that we could experience eternal life.
Jesus understood this which is why He spoke these words while reclining at the table with His disciples at the last supper. “Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins” ( Matthew 26:27-28 ). He knew the price to bring us to the Father and His own words testify to the fact that He would let the blood flow freely. He knew His blood would usher in the covenant and it would completely and utterly blot out and destroy the effects and stains of sins.
His perfect blood was shed to usher in both the New Covenant and the forgiveness of sins. Neither one could be accomplished without it which is why He freely gave himself to the will of God. Jesus accomplished what we could not and because of His sacrifice we have been forgiven, freed and offered eternal life through the person of Jesus Christ.