THE POWER OF THE CROSS
THE BLOOD OF JESUS SPEAKS A BETTER WORD THAN THE BLOOD OF ABEL
You have not come to a mountain that can be touched and that is burning with fire . . . But you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the Judge of all, to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel. (Heb. 12: 18; 22-24)
Better, better, better! Have you noticed how many times the writer to the Hebrews uses the word “better”? Everything about the new covenant is better because it is based on better promises and mediated by a better high priest, one who offered Himself once for sin, rose from the dead to prove that His sacrifice was acceptable to the Father, and sits at the right hand of God in the seat of authority and power.
Why does the writer single out Abel’s death as the contrast between the death of a murdered man and the death of Jesus? There were many murders that are recorded in Scripture. Why Abel? Is it because Abel’s was the first murder recorded in Scripture?
Both Abel and Jesus had their lives taken from them violently. Both Abel and Jesus died for doing the right thing. The perpetrators hated them because they were righteous and, instead of changing their ways and following their example, they killed them because of envy.
God demanded an explanation of Cain for what he had done, because He heard the blood of Abel crying out from the ground. Of course we don’t interpret those words literally. God didn’t need Abel’s blood to tell Him what had happened. It was His way of informing Cain that He knew what he had done. Cain hid Abel’s body in the ground, but nothing could hide the guilt of his crime. Sooner or later even his parents would know when Abel failed to appear.
But why was the killing of Abel different from the killing of Jesus? There are several reasons why the blood of Jesus speaks a better word than the blood of Abel. Abel died violently but unwillingly at the hands of his brother. He had not part in his own death. Cain lured him into a field away from his home and rose up and killed him.
On the other hand, the Old Testament prophesied that Jesus would die. He was Yahweh’s Suffering Servant, whose coming was foretold by the prophets and whose death is described in detail. He was the lamb slain from the foundation of the world. Jesus’ life was focussed on His death. He came to die. He predicted His own death at the hands of the religious leaders. His own people would disown, reject and kill Him in the most violent and cruel way.
More than that, He made it clear that no one could take His life from Him. He would lay it down willingly as an atoning sacrifice for sin, and He would take it up again.
The reason the Father loves me is that I lay down my life – only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father. (John 10: 17-18)
Now that is amazing? It’s no wonder His opponents said He was crazy! He was either crazy, or He was speaking about an authority far about the understanding of human beings.
And even more than that, His death was the will of the Father.
Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush Him and cause Him to suffer . . . (Isa. 53: 10)
And more than that, His death had a purpose.
For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh be a sin offering. And so He condemned sin in the flesh. (Rom. 8: 3)
And His resurrection had a purpose.
He was delivered over to death for our sins and raised to life for our justification. (Rom 4: 25)
He came back to life not only to prove that death could not hold Him because He was sinless, but also to confirm that the Father had accepted His death of behalf of sinners, that the debt of sin had been paid in full, and that the Father could declare all sinners justified, that is, not guilty.
Of what, then, does the blood of Jesus speak? While Abel’s blood cried out for vengeance, the blood of Jesus speaks of mercy.
“Abel, the first martyr of faith, is a foreshadowing of our Lord Jesus, whose “blood… speaks a better word than the blood of Abel” (Hebrews 12:24). For though Abel’s innocent blood cried out for justice against sin, Jesus’s innocent blood cried out for mercy for sinners. Abel’s blood exposed Cain in his wretchedness. Jesus’s blood covers our wretchedness and cleanses us from all sin (Romans 7:24; 1 John 1:9).”
http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/what-dead-abel-speaks-to-us (- retrieved October 2015)
Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
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