Question/Answer Title

By Mary Jane Chaignot

Categories: Jesus


Jesus' blood, some say, did not touch the ground, or it would have been contaminated. Can you please explain? Thanks.


The author is not familiar with this concept. Yet the question touches on several issues undergirding both Jewish and Christian thought.

In Genesis 4, Abel's blood cried out to the Lord from the ground. It was the basis of Cain's punishment when he was driven from the ground that "opened its mouth to receive your brother's blood from your hand." After the flood, God prohibited Noah and his sons from eating meat that "has its lifeblood still in it….Whoever sheds human blood, by humans shall their blood be shed..." (Gen. 9:4, 6). Later in Exodus when the people were ready to ratify the covenant with God, Moses sprinkled blood on the people saying, "This is the blood of the covenant that the Lord has made with you…" (see Exodus 24).

Then comes the book of Leviticus – the Priestly attempt to codify the relationship of Israel to God. It is a maze of ethical and ritual regulations that seem very antiquated to us. But these are words that God spoke over the course of their final month at Sinai - words that began to address their concept of identity and established the priestly traditions. Basically, these traditions functioned in three ways. They had to do with the founding of the community, how to maintain it, and how to restore it when things went very wrong. Restoration was built into this community from day one.

The issues relating to blood are carefully laid out in Leviticus (see Lev. 17), along with penalties for any violations. The blood of a sacrificed animal had to be handled in a special way; blood could never be eaten because "the life of the flesh is in the blood." If blood were not handled properly, the person would be rendered unclean and would need to submit to a washing ritual. In addition to being the "life of the flesh," blood was also the means for atonement. Sacrificed animals were the vehicles by which this occurred. If blood were the means for expiation, eating it would obviously be sacrilegious. The sacrificed animals had been offered in place of human souls. So every animal that was sacrificed had an expiatory factor associated with it.

This sense of atonement undergirds the whole of Christianity. The blood of Jesus Christ, also referred to as the unblemished lamb, was shed for sinners everywhere. Revelation (1:5) states, "… Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the first-born of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To Him who loves us, and released us from our sins by His blood." Rev. 5:9 continues, "You were slain, and purchased for God with Thy blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation."

It seems that from the beginning God has been graciously preparing men for the coming of Christ. The books of the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Old Testament) established the preciousness of blood and its expiatory value. New Testament writings and Revelation only clarified the significance of what God had already set in motion.

Having established the meaning of Jesus' blood, let us now look at Luke 22:44, "And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground." This was the first of several instances in which Jesus' blood was shed: when the plated crown of thorns was pounded into his skull, when he was nailed to the cross, and when he was stabbed in the side and blood and water gushed out of the wound.

It is reasonable to think that some of this blood might have touched the ground. If contamination would have been a concern, we have to acknowledge that in many other New Testament passages Jesus completely ignored issues of uncleanness or pollution. He touched lepers, dead people, sick people, and an unclean woman. Not once did he pause to consider any polluting factors. Indeed, Jesus came to overcome pollution, not succumb to it. There is no record of Jesus ever going through a ritual washing or purification process. It might be too simple to say that if his blood had been contaminated by falling on the ground, it would have been of no consequence to him.

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