In a few minutes I’ll be leaving to donate a pint of blood at the local blood mobile. I’ve done this 3-4 times a year for most of my adult life. It was not because of any particular individual that I began giving blood and it certainly is not because I like the process of it all that I continue to donate. While I encourage people to give blood, I’m not going to lie – sometimes it hurts. Sometimes it hurts because they get the needle a little catawampus but, more often than not, it hurts because of the tape on the hair of my arms. (Or more specifically, when they yank the tape off! Yeowza! The staff always apologizes, though on occasion, I think I have seen a few of them snicker.) I give blood because I believe it has the potential to make a difference in someone’s life, and the potential good far outweighs any pain that I might feel in the moment. I give blood because I can. So, when the blood bank calls, I schedule an appointment and donate. They called on Tuesday and I said I had some time on Friday – and now it is Friday.
It is not lost on me that today is Good Friday. It is the day that Jesus was killed. We tend not to use that wording very often, instead preferring to use the metaphor of shedding of blood. It is not unlike what we say when a soldier or first responder dies in the line of duty: They shed their blood. We honor that act, as we should, and we call their act good. When the Bible talks about Jesus shedding his blood, it cannot be mistaken for a pint and it cannot be imagined simply, or even mainly, as a metaphoric act. We should read it as death; because it is about death, not blood.
Jesus went to the grave.
Jesus died a real death.
God in the flesh – dead.
Today I am giving away a pint. That’s it. And I can only hope that it does some good. But the truth of the matter is that there is no guarantee that my donation, is going to actually save a life; and if it does, it will do so only temporarily. The recipient, at some point, is still going to die. It is what we have in common with one another as human beings – we die. Jesus, however, laid down his whole life, giving all of his blood, if you will. And in this good and willing act, he became our hope as well as our brother.
Both the one who makes people holy, and those who are made holy, are of the same family. So, Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers.
Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death – that is, the devil…
For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way… (Hebrews 2)
We meet Jesus at the cross. Or better yet, Jesus meets us at the cross. And it is this act that makes Good Friday good.