Blood Money!

Bible Book: 1 Peter  1 : 18-19
Subject: Jesus, The Blood of; Blood of Jesus; Salvation; Atonement; Redemption


Dr. J. Mike Minnix, Editor,

1 Peter 1:18-19

Our subject today concerns the half-shekel of atonement and its fulfillment found in the blood of Christ. If you don't know what a half-shekel is or what it and atonement have to do with each other, be assured that you are probably not alone. Our passage from 1 Peter makes a statement that the redeemed, saved person is not redeemed or saved through perishable things such as silver and gold, but with the precious blood of Jesus. Now here is the question. Who said we could be saved or redeemed through silver and gold? You might answer that no one said we could be redeemed with money, but you need to realize that the Old Testament scriptures had some things to say about this subject.

Peter, being a Jew before he was a Christian, knew very well what the Old Testament taught about the half-shekel atonement and in this text for today he was using an Old Testament Law to reveal a New Testament truth. For those who don't know what a half-shekel means, you need to know that it was a coin - it was money. So, you might ask, What does the half-shekel have to do with a text from 1 Peter? First, you must always remember that the Old Testament is the New Testament concealed and the New Testament is the Old Testament revealed.

Look with me at Exodus 30:11 and following. Here we see a record of the half-shekel atonement. The law required that each male in the community of Israel above twenty years of age was to pay an annual atonement offering of a half-shekel coin. This was to be a gift for the atonement of one's life. A person who refused to pay this required amount was to be excommunicated (thrown out) of the community of faith. So, each year the males would publicly gather and be counted. They would pass by and place their half-shekel into the offering. The gift was said to be a gift to the Lord and was to be used for the Tabernacle and the work of God. What does all this mean to us today?

The half-shekel gift was a prefiguring, or foreshadowing, of our Lord Jesus and His sacrifice at the cross. The coin did not save a person, but rather it pointed to a payment that would one day be made for sin. This is seen in the fact that the half-shekel atonement had to be repeated year after year. A gift of money could not possibly pay for sin any more than the blood of a bull or lamb could atone for sin. The requirement to do these things was to point to a greater gift and a more wonderful Lamb to be provided for sin - even Jesus, our Lord.

Let us turn our attention today to the great subject of redemption and atonement for sin.

I want you to think with me about the blood of Jesus and the great sacrifice He made for us. Now, before we launch into this subject, we need to be reminded that we are all sinners (Romans 3:23). If anyone says he does not sin, he is a liar and does not have the truth (1 John 1:8). Yet, we are promised that if we confess our sins He (the Lord) will forgive us our sins and cleanse us of all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). All this is true, but exactly how is payment made for our sins? Look with me at four important elements of atonement and redemption for sinners.

I. The Centrality of Atonement

The central subject in the Bible is the blood of Christ. Some years ago, the late Dr. W. A. Criswell preached a sermon entitled The Scarlet Thread Through The Bible. He began the message on New Year's Eve and preached until midnight. His entire message, lasting several hours, dealt with one subject - the blood atonement found in the Bible from Genesis through Revelation. That sermon has been printed into a book and would make interesting reading for anyone interested in this subject as it is mentioned throughout the Bible. That a man could preach for hours on one single subject from the scripture tells you that this is a very prominent theme throughout the Bible.

A. The Record of it in the Word

The atonement is mentioned in the Bible about 1,300 times. Think about that - 1,300 times! The love of God is only mentioned around 300 times. but the atonement is recorded around 1,300 times, which is four times more than the Love of God is mentioned in the Bible. This tells you the importance that God placed upon the blood of His Son. To be sure, the atonement is the outward expression of the inward love of God. But, we can't experience the love of God unless we come through the blood that Jesus shed for us.

B. The Requirement of it in the Word

This subject is so important because it is the only way for a person to be made right with God. There is no other way to come to God than through the blood sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ. Some have tried to destroy this idea because it is repugnant to them. Let me tell you that it is repugnant to the devil too! Without the shedding of blood no one can be forgiven and redeemed to God (Hebrews 9:22). So, this issue is critical to everyone. We must never be ashamed of the blood of Christ!

II. The Cost in Atonement

The cost of atonement is more costly than the blood of animals or any amount of money that a pwerson can give. Peter calls silver and gold perishable. We think of these two elements as being two of the most imperishable elements on earth. Yet, Peter says they are perishable. Why? Because silver and gold fail in so many ways. They perish when it comes to meeting our real needs.

Money can buy you a house but not a home.

Money you buy you a hospital but not health.

Money can buy you companions but not true friends.

Money can buy an expensive wedding but not provide for true love in marriage.

Money can buy you things but not happiness.

Money can buy you a church building but not salvation.

What is required to be redeemed?

A. The Precious Blood

The precious blood of Jesus is all that will save anyone. This is very plainly spoken many times in Scripture. Birth, wealth, position, education, and associations with people or institutions mean nothing in matters relating to atonement. As I said a moment ago, Hebrews 9:22 states that without the shedding of blood a person cannot be saved. A person has to be spiritually blind not to know this is true!

Romans 5:8-10 states, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through him! For if, when we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!” You will note that a Christian is justified “by His blood” – the blood of Jesus. We are redeemed by His death and shed blood at Calvary and we are assured of this by His life – His resurrection.

In 1 Peter 2:24 we read that Jesus died for our sins.

Revelation 1:5-6 reads, "And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father-- to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen." You see, we are freed from our sins by His blood. Sin is not just something we do, it is something we are. Sin binds us and puts shackles on our lives. When we come to Jesus in repentance and faith, we are set free from those chains. His blood sets the vilest sinner free.

Again, in 1 John 4:10 we discover, "This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins." I am not saved because I love Him, but because He loves me first. I only loved Him because He drew me to Himself. Without the blood of His death, I could never come to Him.

How many people know their blood type (show of hands)? Is anyone AB negative? This is the rarest of all blood types. It is therefore the most precious, the most "valuable" blood within a human body. That is true because it is hard to come by. But as rare and precious as AB negative blood is, which can save a person's physical life, Christ's blood is even rarer by far, for it alone can save a person spiritually and eternally. In fact Jesus Himself declared our salvation to be His purpose on earth. He says of Himself in Matthew 20:28, "Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."

Did you notice how Peter describes Jesus

B. The Pure Lamb

Jesus is the pure, precious Lamb given as a sacrifice for us. Do you recall when the people came out of Egypt how they escaped? Remember that the blood of a Lamb had to be placed on the doorposts of each home as a sign of faith in God's mercy. The death angel passed over every home that had the blood on the door, but those without the blood on the doorpost had death visit their household. When the people got out into the wilderness, while Moses was on the mountain meeting with God, the people made a golden calf and said that the calf had brought them out of Egypt. Peter is saying to them in 1 Peter 1:18-19 that just as the shekel had no power to obtain forgiveness for their sins and the golden calf was not the means of their escape from Egypt, silver and gold could in no help a person escape the judgment for sin and the punishment in hell that would follow. To have your sins forgiven and to escape the coming judgment, you need a Savior! Thanks be unto God, you have what you need in Christ and in Christ alone! He shed His precious blood that you might be redeemed! Every Lamb ever sacrificed in Israel was a mere foreshadowing of the One great Lamb of whom John said, "Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world."

III. The Call to Atonement

In Exodus you should note that the people were called to a time of atonement. In fact, God is always calling people to atonement, forgiveness and redemption. Note how He calls.

A. The Personal Call

Each male twenty years of age and older had to appear personally to pay his atonement price. No one else could pay it for him. None was to pay more than another. The rich and poor alike paid the same price. No one was so rich as to be exempt, and no one was so poor as to be excluded. Moses, Aaron, Joshua, Caleb, all had to pay the same as everyone else. All have come short of the glory of God. The blood of Christ is for all of us – the good, the bad and the ugly! Seriously, no one is saved by his or her position, looks, money, or good deeds. Jesus is the ransom for all who will come to Him! 1 Timothy 2:5-6 states, "For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men-- the testimony given in its proper time.”

B. The Public Call

The call was also public. There could be no secret believers in the atonement. Each person had to step forward and identify himself. It is the same today. To be saved and redeemed, you have to step forward and boldly stand for the Lord. Jesus saves those who are not ashamed to admit that they need Him as Savior and Lord. In a few moments the Lord is going to offer you the chance to experience eternal atonement for all your sins – past, present and future. To receive His gift of forgiveness, you must be unashamed to declare it publicly.

IV. The Consequences of Atonement

The atoning blood of Christ brings about great results and consequences for those who truly trust Him. Think of three of them.

A. The Freedom

The word "redeemed" means "set free." The question has to be answered, "From what are we set free and to whom is the payment made to set us free?"

Jesus did not die to pay the devil, He died to defeat the devil and meet God's demand for a perfect life for sinners.

From what are we set free? We are set free from death and sin. Paul called it being a slave to sin. Sin is a disease of the soul. It separates one from God. The only way to be brought into a right relationship with God is to come by way of the blood. Sin to a lost person is like a man in the water with a hundred pounds strapped to his body. He is going down, down, down! Jesus, who walks on water, can lift you up, remove that weight and put in the good ship of salvation where you are secure and safe! To be saved is to say, "Free at last, free at last, thank God Almighty, I am free at last." (Martin Luther King)

Do you see that word "redeemed?" That is a very important word. It is the Greek word lutroo (loo-tro'-o) which means "to have been released on receipt of ransom. "It is a passive past tense verb signifying that we were captive (to our sinful nature) and were set free through a ransom payment. We didn't escape through our own wise scheme or plan or negotiation with our captor. We were removed from captivity through no action of our own. It was done for us, but there was a price and it was paid by another.

"Jesus paid it all, All to Him I owe,

Sin had left crimson stain,

He washed it white as snow."

B. The Forgiveness

Atonement is also forgiveness. It means that you are clean, pure and free of debt. The old account is settled. Isaiah 40:2, "Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her hard service has been completed, that her sin has been paid for, that she has received from the LORD's hand double for all her sins."

This does not speak of double payment for sin, because no suffering or work can pay for sin. It is not by works lest any should boast (Ephesians 2:8-9). This refers to a practice long ago in which a person in bankruptcy had to face a most embarrassing situation. An official would go to the city gate and nail the debt to the wall. The person whose name appeared on the bankruptcy statement would be excommunicated from Israel till the debt was paid. In essence, the debtor became something of a non-citizen, a slave. When the debt was paid, an official would go to the city gate, withdraw the nail, double the paper over and drive the nail back through it. God paid our debt - He doubled over our spiritual bankruptcy claim and drove the nails into it, the nails were the ones that pierced the hands of Jesus. He holds them up and says, "See, here is the nail print, your debt has been paid."

No doubt Paul had this in mind when he penned Colossians 2:13-16, "When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross."

When I was a boy growing up in North Carolina, a business practice took place that is missing in our modern world. When a person paid for a product, the store owner or store employee would take the bill and slide it down over a spike sitting on the counter. The hole in the bill meant that it had been paid. Oh, dear friend, Jesus holds up His nail-scarred hands to said, "The price has been paid - the debt has been removed."

C. The Faithfulness

Peter clearly states that all who have been redeemed by Christ are to be faithful to Him in with their lives because our redemption was made possible by His blood. He gave His life for us, so let us live our lives for Him!

But the most important faithfulness is His faithfulness to us. He destroyed the law against us - He threw the record of our sins away forever.

There is an old story, whether true or not I can’t say, wherein the wife of a man came before Napoleon begging for his freedom. Napoleon called for the charges. She read them and realized he was guilty. She pleaded for mercy. Napoleon said, "You have the charges in your hand. Do with them what you will." She ran to the fire and threw them in. Her husband was released.

We praise God today because the record of our sins were burned away in the fire of judgment that Jesus faced at Calvary. Our debt is gone because Jesus faithfully saved us through His blood and faithfully keeps us saved through His eternal life and love.

Have you ever seen a case where a person is being held for ransom? If you have not seen that in real life, or the news, perhaps you have seen it in a movie or on television. Have you ever stopped to think what your life might be worth if you were held for ransom? I can just image the kidnappers holding me for, say, $100.00 in ransom and fearing they might not get that much. I can't imagine anyone paying a million dollars to ransom me. O friend, I know someone who paid far more than that to ransom this poor sinner.

"Precious Lamb or Calvary,

How could you die for someone like me,

I will spend eternity,

Praising the Lamb!"


Max Lucado relates an amazing sight a friend of his saw at Disney World. He was visiting Cinderella's castle. The place was filled with kids and parents when all of a sudden the children rushed over to one side of the big hall. Someone had come in. It was Cinderella herself!

The young lady in the costume was perfect for the part--beautiful features, long flowing blonde hair, and a radiant smile. The kids all crowded around her, each one wanting to touch her, to somehow get her attention.

Over on the other side of the room, however, stood a small boy of maybe six or seven years of age. It was hard to tell how old he was because his little body was so deformed. He just stood there, looking longingly toward the lovely princess. You could tell he wanted to go over and talk to her like all the other kids, but he remained transfixed, holding tightly to the hand of his older brother.

It was fear that kept him there-fear of yet another rejection, of being mocked or rudely pushed aside. But above all the hubbub Cinderella noticed the boy and started walking toward him. Gently, but firmly, she extricated herself from the clutching hands of the other children and made her way across the room. She dropped to her knees in front of him and placed a kiss on his forehead.

Lucado likens this vignette to the story of God's love for us: Instead of a princess of Disney, we have the Prince of Peace. Rather than a handicapped boy, we are the thief on the cross. Both received a gift, but Jesus gave so much more than Cinderella. What if she'd taken upon herself the little boy's disfigurement and given him her beauty? That's what Jesus did for us! [A Gentle Thunder by Max Lucado. Word Publishing, 1995. Pages 86-87.]

Let those of us who have experienced the wonderful redemption through the blood of Christ take a look at our lives. He is so faithful to us. How faithful are we to Him? This is a good day to rededicate your life to your wonderful Savior. In a moment, when we sing the invitation hymn, I invite you to come and kneel before Him here at the front of the church. If you cannot kneel, just come and sit on one of these front seats and bow your head humbly and tell Him you love Him and that you are thankful for His sacrifice for you.

There is someone else here who ought to respond this morning. It is you, sir, our you, madam, or perhaps you my young friend, who hears the voice of God’s love calling you to Salvation. He died for you. He bled for you. He is willing to save you and free you and give you eternal life. Come now. I’ll meet you right here at the front and I will pray with you this morning. Just as every person was called in the Old Testament times to present himself to God, He is calling you to present yourself before the Savior this morning. He is calling – will you answer?