Misconceptions Around The Atonement From Sin

Continued from Part 11

Did Jesus fulfill the Torah’s requirements for blood sacrifice (Matthew 5:17-18)? 

Under no circumstances can one say that Jesus shed his blood as a sin-offering as would be necessary under the conditions set by New Testament doctrine itself.  It is not true that “Christ died for sins, once for all … so that he might bring you to God” (1 Peter 3:18).  Jesus did not die as a result of blood loss from any wounds.  There was no shedding of blood, hence, no sacrifice!

Many Christians maintain that Jesus died of a broken heart for the sins of mankind.  This position is an error unsupported by medical research or Christian theology.

Where is the Christian’s blood atonement for sin?

Hebrews 9:22 states that without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.  It does not say:  “Without a broken heart, there is no forgiveness of sins.”  If Jesus died in any way other than by the shedding of blood, he could not be the savior that is preached in Christian doctrine (Acts 13:38-39, 2 Corinthians 5:21).  Accordingly, the sins of those who believe in Jesus as their atonement for sin remain unforgiven.  What the New Testament claims is that it is not just any pre-crucifixion suffering by Jesus that brings “healing,” (atonement).  His “wounds” did not bring atonement; it was his death that supposedly achieved this end.  What is alleged to bring atonement is not the spilling of blood through blood sweating or scourging but rather the shedding of Jesus’ blood in death as an atonement sacrifice for sin.  Therefore, “with his wounds we were healed” cannot be a reference to Jesus healing anyone (that is, bringing atonement) at any point in his life.

What does “with his wounds we were healed” have to do with Jesus?  Did he take upon himself the punishment that was due “us”?  The author of 1 Peter gets it all wrong when he writes:  “and he himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, that we might die to sins and live to righteousness; for by his wounds you were healed” (1 Peter 2:24).  What supposedly “healed”?  Was it the scourging of Jesus or blood loss bringing on death?  It is said that Jesus underwent a scourging as part of the preparation for crucifixion, but was anyone “healed” by his “wounds”?  Isn’t it the Christian claim that Jesus’ death was a blood atonement sacrifice for mankind’s sins?  Paul assures Christians:  “In him [Jesus] we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins” (Ephesians 1:7).  Any suffering Jesus underwent prior to that moment of death does not come into consideration as a New Testament blood atonement sacrifice.

Not only is scourging not in the category of a blood sacrifice but, in the case of Jesus, it would have been administered prior to the actual crucifixion and the death that ensued.  According to Paul, it is “redemption through his blood” that Jesus brought atonement.  Then, for a Christian there is nothing else that brings or effects atonement, only Jesus’ blood.  There is no reliance in Christianity on Jesus’ alleged miracles, teachings or suffering prior to death for obtaining atonement, only his blood.  According to this christology, if nothing effects atonement but Jesus’ blood shed in death (which clearly never happened), then, as stated above, that means that not even the suffering allegedly undergone by Jesus prior to the crucifixion counts toward anything.  Therefore, linking “with his wounds we are healed” to Jesus wearing a crown of thorns, or being scourged, or nailed to a cross, has no relevance in an attempt to link Jesus to the description of the ordeal undergone by the servant.   For Christians “wounds” do not heal sins only the blood of Jesus.  The trouble with this belief, however, is that Jesus’ blood was never shed.

Christians translate the meaning of “stripes” in order to allude to Jesus allegedly being whipped prior to his execution.  The translation of “stripes” actually encompasses a wide range of physical abuse.  “His wounds,” “his bruises,” rendered as “his stripes,” reflects the wide ranging cumulative results of centuries of beatings with fists, clubs, and whips suffered by the servant at the hands of his tormentors.  Thus, it represents the very condition of exile itself and the suffering Israel must endure to achieve the spiritual and national regeneration needed to fulfill its role in God’s plan.  Israel is often spoken of as “bruised” and “wounded” due to suffering at the hands of the nations, both those ordained by God and those representing the free will excesses of the nations (Jeremiah 30:12-17).

© Gerald Sigal


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