By Jamin Roller
“Those aren’t the words, Dad.”
I was tucking my youngest in bed last week and after we prayed, I sang a song with her that we sing often. You probably know it. “What can wash away my sin? / Nothing but the blood of Jesus. / What can make me whole again? / Nothing but the blood of Jesus.”
That is when she stopped me and said, “Those aren’t the words, Dad. It’s not the blood of Jesus; it’s the love of Jesus. Blood is bad.” I’m not sure if she has always replaced blood with love, but it makes sense. In her four-year-old mind, blood is bad. Blood is what happens when you scrape your knee or cut your finger. In her world, blood means something is wrong, and hearing it in a song about Jesus feels out of place.
The verses we read today landed on me a bit like that. When I think of Advent, words like hope, joy, and peace come to mind. The story of Abraham and Isaac doesn’t quite feel like an Advent story. It ends with Isaac being spared and an animal dying. Yet when John the Baptist calls Jesus the “lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29), he invites people to understand what Jesus did by comparing Him to a lamb that was sacrificed for the people. The verses in John 3 can be understood in light of Jesus’s gruesome death in our place. There is a weightiness to all these passages; when I read them, they landed out of place, like singing about blood when we feel more comfortable singing about love. It’s a sobering reminder that the first advent of Jesus included the shedding of His blood. Part of Advent is standing in the shadow of the cross and remembering that hope, joy, and peace come only through our Savior laying down His life in our place.
Because the sights and sounds of Christmas surround Advent, it is easy to let the seasonal sentimentality distract us from the heavier realities of what Jesus’s first advent means. It is good for my heart to remember that Jesus did not come because I mostly needed a miracle worker, a moral example, or a good teacher. He is all of those things, but Jesus came because I need a savior. And the degree of saving we need came at the bloody cost of His life. That is a price he was willing to pay precisely because He so loved the world (John 3:16).
One day, my daughter will understand that in singing about the blood, we are at the same time singing about His love. In the shed blood of Jesus, His love for us is most clearly seen.