Salvation through Christ by his blood for all believers is a counter-cultural gift in so many ways, but the peace of blood has really struck me lately. I don’t associate “blood” with “peace.” I associate blood with injury, illness, and death; fighting, enmity, and opposition.
After living almost half a century, I’ve seen plenty of it; can smell, feel, even taste it. Traumatic memories are associated with blood.
Our pastor was speaking about the blood, which would have covered Simon of Cyrene as he carried Christ’s bloody cross, yet Christ’s blood brings peace according to Paul in Colossians 1:20.
The Image of the Invisible God
First, let’s go back a few verses. Paul describes Jesus as “the image of the invisible God, firstborn of all creation” (Colossians 1:15). Childbirth is messy, and many fluids are responsible for that mess. Blood is just one of them.
Even under ideal circumstances, a newborn’s skin is covered in various substances, which includes blood. The mother will bleed for several days to shed the lining, which protected her infant in utero.
Jesus was born in the usual way, blood, and life, promise and peace all intermingling in the combined agony and joy of giving birth. In some ways, it’s the picture of resurrection — new life coming out of so much pain.
For by Him All Things Were Created
This same infant was also One with God, Creator of all things. “All things” includes the “visible” like “rulers” and “invisible” things such as “dominions.” All of this was made by Jesus, “for him.” Jesus made what he made for his own pleasure.
But he didn’t just create; he still leads and maintains. “He is before all things” can be read to mean that he was there at the beginning (which he was) but also that he is in the lead. We look to Jesus, like a flower turning its head to the sun.
Whether we follow or not is another matter. As we know, even those of us who call ourselves “Christians” only follow imperfectly and with great difficulty.
But whatever God made, he is also working in it; holding it together. Maybe we don’t think that’s true because the world is falling apart, but this is a statement of God’s total control.
I picture the entire world in Jesus’ hands, bits of the earth trying to fall apart; believers torn between flesh and Spirit (Romans 8).
But he holds the pieces in place with his massive fingers. It’s a childish picture of something both broken and completely protected even as Almighty God is getting ready to make all things new (Revelation 21:5).
Head of the Church
In our church, we have a lead pastor, an executive pastor, a counseling pastor, a children’s pastor, and others. They work with elders and a board to run a large church and oversee three church plants plus assorted interns.
Our lead pastor is guided by and subject to the authority of a larger regional organization and the discernment (even discipline if it ever comes to that) of those elders and board members. All of these individuals are led by Jesus. He is the head of the church.
I know — Jesus never comes to board meetings. He doesn’t send in his vote by proxy or provide end-of-year reports for the AGM. His Word, however, provides the unchanging commands and directions for all churches, which proclaim his gospel.
His instructions are the same for every believer: Go out and make disciples (Matthew 28). Show love to others, behave with justice and mercy (Micah 6:8). Love God with all you’ve got and love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:37-39).
Paul describes the church as a body with many parts (1 Corinthians 12:12), but a body needs a head, a brain, to direct it. Jesus is that head. He’s better than anyone (preeminent, Colossians 1:18), including all those rulers mentioned above.
We look to him for leadership and the example of how to be better. If we do any good, it’s by his Holy Spirit.
The Fullness of God (Colossian 1:19)
We’re not just throwing our lot in with the best available leader in a field of potential choices, some ageless Indiana Jones who is bold, brave, and brash enough to get us through a series of booby traps alive. He is God. Perfect. The best.
He lacks nothing of God’s power. Whatever Jesus has said, believe it. Live by it. Trust and hope in it. For “hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” (Romans 5:5).
Christ has given us hope for today and also for eternity in heaven. His fullness in us is also his capability equipping us to be at peace with others.
Even with this promised help indwelling us, it’s so difficult to be at real peace with anyone. In a heartbeat, a beloved sister or brother in Christ can trigger our displeasure, even our anger.
But the peace of Christ is a part of our full inheritance. “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid” (John 14:27).
We will experience the enmity of unbelievers and our own brothers and sisters in Christ. We face our own anger, and that’s worse. Our sin troubles us as it should.
But Christ promises to help us if we submit to his authority as head of the church, head of each person, ruler of our visible (external) and invisible (internal) enemies. But this ruler is not interested in dominion over earthly treasure — no. He wants our hearts.
Peace by the Blood of His Cross, Colossians 1:20
The “‘peace of Christ’ is that to which we are called in one body. Paul is exalting peace as the goal of all the church’s deliberations insofar as it does not require the compromise of the gospel.”
Paul said it: Christ is the head of this very body, but there was disunity and misunderstanding from the start; enmity, chaos, rejection — everything that was the opposite of peace.
The fellowship couldn’t fix these problems by the sheer force of their will, or even by acting peacefully when their hearts were in disarray.
And they could not fix their relationship with God by shedding their own blood. Every human effort at earning God’s peace (his shalom, wholeness with him) leads to conflict because we first need reconciliation with God. Only Jesus’ blood can bring us that.
The peace of God makes it possible to disagree and still love one another. This peace also puts Christ before us so that we can forgive the sins of others against us. When we want vengeance, Christ is a better reward.
When we feel confused and betrayed, Christ rules over that which we cannot understand or see. If you need to forgive, he fills up the gap in a relational chasm. You’re standing on him, relying on him. After all, by his death on the cross, Jesus reconciled us to God who has every right not to forgive us.
He chose to forgive his disciples’ constant sin (past, present, future) and he shows us how to make peace with others. This is a gift of love exemplified and made possible only by the blood of Christ.
Real peace is more than agreement. “Authentic pardon of another’s sin — the refusal to feel ill will toward an offender and the determination never to hold the offender’s sin over his head — is possible only through love” (Ibid).
It starts inside, as a work of the Holy Spirit. We change first as we recognize the cost of Salvation. We are saved for relationship with God, saved from his wrath; his orgé, which is a “fixed” or “settled opposition.”
Our Status Before God
And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him (Colossians 1:21-22).
This is where we are if, in fact, we remain faithful. We can only inch towards peace with others, but I’m so grateful that Christ has reconciled us to the Father.
Our submission is not imprisonment, like being taken as a prisoner of war, but is actually rest. Even if we taste blood along the way, our destination is real and lasting peace with the Father through Christ.
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Candice Lucey is a freelance writer from British Columbia, Canada, where she lives with her family. Find out more about her here.