James A. Cress was the General Conference Ministerial Secretary when he wrote this article.

Across my desk last week came an amazingly harsh criticism of Mel Gibson's new movie, The Passion of the Christ, which depicts the final hours leading up to Jesus' death. I am not attempting critique of a film I have not viewed. I am critiquing an unfair critique which asserts that the movie is too full of blood; much more than is recounted by the gospel writers.

This critic elaborates that Protestants must reject such copious amounts of blood and suffering based on his assumption that the biblical record minimizes Christ's sufferings. In fact, if you were to follow his specious reasoning to its conclusion, the crucifixion of Jesus would have been nothing more than a surgical procedure which got a little rough. Ridiculous!

The theme of redemption centers on Jesus' death as our substitute. I deserve to die. Jesus took my place. Nothing could be more important than to validate and appreciate the suffering of Jesus on our behalf, the shedding of His blood for the remission of our sins, and the promise of His return and restoration commemorated by the communion cup's representation of the New Testament in His blood.

When such critics reject what they term "slaughterhouse religion," because they don't like the language of beating, breaking, and bleeding, their argument must be with Cod. For blood is the language of both the Old and New Testament.

From the first lamb sacrificed after Adam's fall through the passing over of the homes protected by blood on the doorposts, to the death of Jesus, Himself the Great Passover, to the promise that He awaits His opportunity to share the juice of the vine with His redeemed in His kingdom, to the assurance that He, our High Priest, ministers His own atoning sacrifice in heaven for us, Scripture is filled type and antitype with the blood sacrifice of our Savior.

Both by shadow and reality, the Bible declares, "not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption . . . How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your consciences from dead works to serve the living God . . . without shedding of blood, there is no remission" (Hebrews 9:11-14, 22). The Old Testament describes the shedding of vast quantities of animal blood while the New Testament affirms the vast quality of Christ's shed blood.

Do you see the emphasis? By His own blood! The gospel focuses on Jesus, Himself the Priest; Himself the sacrifice. Once for all. When Jesus poured out His own blood, I see Him pouring out His life for me.

The singularity of Jesus' own offering stands in contrast to the daily offering of sacrificial lambs. Once! Never before! Never again! Christ offered His own blood as an act of God's eternal love. No price was too much! Jesus paid the maximum. Never can there be any doubt about the sufficiency of payment. Jesus paid it all!

I carry a clipping in my Bible that well describes the all-sufficient gift of Jesus' own blood: "No mere human savior could have paid such a price and purchased redemption. Not in the least! Why? The demands of a broken law were too exacting. That law had been broken by finite beings incapable of again rendering complete obedience, but the law demand that a perfect obedience be rendered. Man could not do it. It required a God-man. Only Jesus, the incarnate in human flesh, could do it. And when He did it, He did a completed work. He did not purchase a half pardon; He did not provide a partial blotting out of sin. His was a perfect atonement for us. He set us free. We no longer need to pay the penalty for our transgressions. We are absolutely free of all condemnation and guilt." How? By His own blood appropriated by faith!

Understand the symbol and understand the reality: "Now the blood shall be a sign (a token) for you" (Exod. 12:13). The wages of sin is death. We each have sinned. We have corporately experienced it and we have individually chosen it. We deserve the wages of sin. We deserve only justice, only condemnation, only death.

But God's love and grace has provided an escape. The Lord, Himself, has provided a sacrifice. The Lord has provided Himself the sacrifice. The blood of Jesus Christ becomes the surety of our salvation. The blood of Jesus Christ becomes the sustenance of our lives. The blood of Jesus Christ becomes the title to our heavenly home. Right now Jesus pleads His own blood for me and you.

Reject a Hollywood depiction if you will. Never reject the soul-saving, sinner-redeeming, mindtransforming, sin-atoning, copiously-sacrificed, lifesaving blood of Jesus, the Lamb of God slain from the foundation of the world!