How does the blood of the Lamb help us overcome anything? And, what are we to overcome?
As Christians we take a lot of the words and metaphors we use for granted. We think everyone knows what we mean when we say, “You’re saved by grace, or there’s power in the blood, or have faith, or as it’s shown in Revelation 12:11, “they overcame by the blood of the Lamb…” What does it mean to overcome by the blood of the Lamb?
Consider these three verses together:
“Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, “Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down. 11 And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death. 12 Therefore rejoice O heavens, and you who dwell in them! Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and the sea! For the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has a short time.” (Revelation 12:10-12)
First, note that they overcame “him.” Who is “him”? The verse before says it’s the accuser, and in verse 12 it identifies the accuser as the devil or Satan. Satan is the accuser of both God and man. In the beginning (think Genesis) Satan accused God of lying about sin causing death. Remember, God told Adam and Eve, “The day you eat of the fruit of the tree of good and evil, you will die;” and the serpent said, “You will not die…” Then in the book of Job, Satan accused God of playing favorites. He claimed God was arbitrary in how He bestowed His gifts by protecting Job and not others. Throughout the Bible Satan is found accusing you, me, and God of evil; and evidently, he even pressed charges against God. Paul wrote in Romans, “God may you win when you take your case to court.” Just think of the gall. How could a mere creature accuse God of wrongdoing?
So, putting this all together, the “him” is Satan, and what we overcome is Satan’s lies about God; and the first and most important lie was—we will not die if we sin; and we do it by the blood of the Lamb.
Is the logic sound? How does the blood of the Lamb refute that lie? If you compare the gospels we see that Jesus is the Lamb, and Jesus did a lot of bleeding. He bled in the garden of Gethsemane when He accepted the “cup of God’s wrath.” He bled when He was beaten by Pontius Pilate’s guards and when they placed the crown of thorns on His innocent brow. He bled as He carried the heavy, splintering cross to Calvary, and again when the Romans pounded spikes into His hands and feet. And finally, He bled when the Roman solider thrust a spear into His side after his death. There was a lot of blood, and the blood of the Lamb answered a lot of questions.
Why did Jesus bleed in the garden? He wasn’t struck; He wasn’t stabbed. This seems unnatural. It happened because Jesus was being treated like a sinner. God’s “wrath” was being poured out upon Him, and what happened? He staggered and fell dying to the ground. Had not an angel come to His aid, He would have died. Was God killing Jesus? Was God angry at Jesus? No, God even sent an angel to help Him. But Jesus was dying anyway, showing that sin does kill. God was separating Himself from Jesus. He was answering the accusation raised in the Garden of Eden? And it was supposed to increase our faith in Him, knowing He didn’t lie.
The blood Jesus lost in Pilate’s prison, the blood oozing from cuts by the thorns and the splintered cross, the blood lost while on the cross, and the blood brought forth from the spear were the results of the Jews handing Jesus over to the Roman authorities. Although it was the Romans who handed out the abuse, it was the Jews who were responsible for delivering Jesus to them. They were the ones who handed Him over to the authorities; they were the ones crying crucify Him, crucify Him. The Romans were the cruelest people on earth; the Jews were the most religious people on earth—ever—and which group was worse? Which group was the more hateful, the more degraded? It was the “Bible” preaching, pious Jews.
The Jews had swallowed Satan’s lies that God was arbitrary, exacting, unforgiving, and severe; and they acted it out when Jesus challenged them. They had to either accept Jesus’s description of God and follow Him, or kill Him. So, when push came to shove, their picture of what God was like allowed them to kill their Creator.
If we learn the lessons of the blood spent in Gethsemane; and if we learn from the abuse He suffered at the hands of the Jews and Romans, then we can aptly say we are saved by the blood of the Lamb.
Lest we lose the big picture by digging too deeply into the details, consider how much the Father and Jesus loved this rebellious planet. Consider all the time, effort, and pain it cost to demonstrate what God is really like. God poured out all of heaven to show us He cared. My jaw drops when I think that the One who set the galaxies in place would give up His thrown to come down here to be so abused. It’s almost unconceivable, but it’s true.
God was teaching a mighty message: Just because you look good on the outside, going to church each week, praying on street corners, giving large sums of money to charities, and other great and noble things, you could still be the most evil person on the planet; and if you think God should be feared and appeased, if you worship God for the wrong reasons, and if you keep your fear and resentment suppressed because you think God would be angry, you may become just like these first century Jewish leaders, capable of killing the King. It’s a horrible fact that the most devout and the most religious people on the planet, the ones with greatest opportunity to know God, could kill Him when He came.
If we learn the right lessons, we will overcome by the blood of the Lamb.