Captain of Salvation

Excerpt from Why Blood? by Warren Litzman.

"For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul." (Lev. 17:11)

Go with me now as we view the Crucifixion, and see the Captain of Our Salvation as He gives His blood that we might have life, His life, and that more abundantly.

It is a dark night in Jerusalem. The streets are empty. Insurrection is in the air. People hide behind closed doors. It is the night of the betrayal, the night before the Crucifixion. Our Lord leaves the temple with eleven of His disciples and walks through the lonely streets of Jerusalem to-wards Gethsemane. A twelfth disciple makes his final arrangements to betray Him, for the hour of His betrayal is at hand. Christ and His disciples pass through the gates of old Gethsemane, and His heart is exceedingly heavy as He tells His disciples, I want you to pray with me. I need you to pray with me tonight. They all go to sleep. He who was made flesh, made of a woman, made under the law, made lower than the angels, is now feeling the tremendous pressure of the weight of sin. He feels that this is the night the sin of the world will be poured into His body.

He takes Peter, James and John a little deeper with Him into the garden and says, My heart is exceedingly heavy. Will you not watch and wait with me? They go to sleep. He rebukes them saying, Could you not watch and wait with me? Then He turns and goes back the third time to His place of prayer. He kneels down. An artist has portrayed Him kneeling at a huge stone. I don’t know…it could have been. He looks up to heaven and says:

Father, from the foundation of the world I have waited to manifest this moment because you killed me before you ever made sinful man, and I have just been waiting to manifest that death. But I don’t want to be out of your will. I don’t mind waiting for another Passover to be the Lamb if that is your will. I don’t mind going through another 365 days; I just want to make sure I’m doing what you want me to do. There sits before me, Father, a cup, and in this cup is the sin of the world. If it be your will to take the cup away, I’ll wait to take it another time, but if it is not your will to take it away, then your will be done. He drops His head. God does not take the cup away. So, yielding to His Father, He reaches out and drinks it.

When He took the cup, there flowed into His body every foul sin you’ve ever committed. Think over your life now. Every thought you’ve had that you thought no-body else knew about, every hatred you had, and even the hatred you never knew you had, add it all up; it flowed into His body. Then, take every sin you’ve commit-ted, every foul thing you’ve ever done, and put that into His body. Take every war that has ever been fought; pour that into His body. Take all the evil that ever assailed a human being; put that into His body. Take every pain that has ever been felt—it is beyond my comprehension just to take all the pain I’ve felt—but take the pain of the en-tire world, everyone who lived before Him and everyone that has lived after that night—take that pain and pour that into His body. Imagine every heart attack, every cancer, every physical pain and ailment, every person who was ever burned, be-headed, abused, murdered or killed in war; now pour all that pain into His body. Take every death that every man has ever died and pour that into His body.

First Peter 2:24 says He bore my sins. Did you ever hear that of Muhammad, Buddha or Confucius? No Adamic man who ever lived could ever have done that. They all give you prescriptions on how to straighten out your crooked life, but not one of them said, I’ll take your old life and pour it into mine. I’ll die your death; I’ll suffer your pain. It all flowed into His body.But that is not what I want you to see. I want you to see what happened. When the sin of the world passed into His body, the Scriptures say that blood, like great drops of sweat, broke out upon His forehead and His cheeks. There is a disease known to medical science as hematidrosis, which is a disease where, under extreme pressure, one has such a desire to live when he should die that the blood is literally pumped out of proportion to the strength of the blood vessels, and it breaks into the sweat glands and literally seeps through the skin. Few mortals can stand such pain; most die be-fore it happens—but He sweat blood. This is the Captain of Our Salvation in the arena, saying, Devil, I’m going to take the power out of your hands and I’m going to turn it over to the sons of God.

Do you see that blood coursing down His cheeks? That is the shedding of blood, without which there is no remission of sins. They arrest Him. They carry Him to Pilate’s judgment hall. They look at Him and say, Are you a king? He answers, Are you asking me that or are you telling me that? Which is it? Does my appearance tell you I am a king? Is there something in your heart that tells you I am a king? Why even mention it?

A soldier goes aside and plucks a thorny limb from a bush, plaits the ends of it together, makes it into a circular crown and brings it back and lays it upon His head; our Captain is crowned indeed. Crucifixion is nigh and history tells us that the angry hands of the soldier take each thorn, turn it to the skull, and push it into the skin so it lodges in the membrane of the skull. All around His head they push in the thorns, in mockery and in sacrilege. Every time they push a thorn through His skull, a warm rivulet of blood flows out from the base of it and trickles down His cheek.

Do you see that blood? Forget the thorns. The world is going to mock you and make fun of you, too. They are going to call you a prophet and a healer, sanctimonious, righteous, and too good for this old earth. They are going to call you all kinds of names—that doesn’t matter. Just like they persecuted Him they will persecute you, but what I want you to see is not the persecution to feed your ego; I want you to see those warm rivulets of blood because that feeds your soul. Do you see them? Do you see that blood trickling down from the bases of the thorns? That’s the Captain of your salvation, saying. Devil, I’ve borne their sin; now I’m going to release my life, There it comes; it is in the blood. It is in His blood. That is our life coming forth.

A little while later they mock Him to scorn. They strip His body and tie His hands to the infamous ring in the floor in the corner of the judgment hall—the blood-letting place. (The Romans believed that if a person shed enough blood, his crime was paid for; so they beat them mercilessly.) They take Jesus to the iron ring with His back exposed and Pilate says, If the Jews want blood, I’ll give them blood. And so he gives the order to the man who handles the scourge, Hit Him! With a loud, whistling sound the scourge comes down on His bare back. At the end of each one of the tails of the scourge, there is a round ball and, through the center of the round ball, a piece of shaven steel or glass, so that when the ball strikes the back it bruises and brings the blood to the surface of the skin. Then the little pieces of glass cut it open so that blood flows freely. That is the purpose of a scourging.Can you hear Pilate in his hatred for the Jews, crying, Hit Him again; hit Him again; hit Him again? Forty times the whip came down on His back.

History tells us that few mortals could have stood such a scourging and such a loss of blood. His back became as a ploughed field. Shavings of His own precious skin and body could be found mingled with blood, and you could have just scraped it off His back. Every time the whip came down, however, the Captain of Our Salvation was waging a war. It was not against Pilate; He had nothing in His heart against Pilate. It was not against the man who held the scourge in his hand, for there was no enmity against this man. It was not against the Jews who cried, Give us blood. It was against that old usurper that, with His bare back bent over, He bore the sins of the world. He wrenched the power and authority out of the hands of the Devil. As He bends over, you can hear the scourge coming down on His back, and Pi-late shouting, Hit Him again; hit Him again. His knees weaken, but they do not crumble. The back sags, but He doesn’t give up. After a while, I imagine, the blood is spattered all over the place. The arm of the Roman soldier is covered with blood, and every time the scourge comes down, blood spatters over the wall, and the floor; His very body becomes a fountain covered with blood, rolling down His legs, dripping off His shoulders and neck. His very feet stand in puddles of blood.

We don’t like to think of blood, do we? What if you lived back in the Israel of old, and every Lord’s Day you had to go to the temple to kill a lamb, a goat or a bullock? Do you think you would have escaped the sight of blood? Read the book of Leviticus. Do you think you would have escaped the stench and smell of burning flesh? Read your Bible. Had it not been for the Captain of Our Salvation, every one of us would be required to follow Israel in offering some kind of sacrifice to save our souls from sin. Look at that blood; do you see it? Do you see His feet standing in it? Do you see it on the scourge? Do you see it on the wall of the judgment hall? That is the shedding of blood, without which there is no remission of sins.They take Him to Calvary. They lay Him down on crossbeams, and our mercilessly beaten, haggard, worn and almost-dead Captain has nails driven through His hands and feet. A rope is placed somewhere around His body so that He will stay up-right on the cross. They lift the cross high above the hole, and let it fall. When it hits the bottom of the hole, it rips His hand from the ball to the knuckles and His feet from the toes to the ankle bones, so that the nail lodges. This is the manner of crucifixion so that he won’t pull against the nails or pull his foot off the cross. The pain is too great. The holes allow the blood to flow—the flow of His life, our life.

There’s your life; it is finished. Some of you are going to psychiatrists to straighten out your twisted, troubled lives. You’ve gone to the wrong place. Go to Calvary; that is where God put your sin. You need to see yourself hanging there. Some of you are looking for a miracle. No miracle is going to help you until you start at Calvary. That is where life begins—that is where it all begins. Do you see that blood? It is still flowing; it comes down His arm, out of His hands, out of His skull, and from His ribboned back. I can see it flowing down His legs, mixed with spit and all else that’s involved in the death of our Captain. But do you know the great miracle of this sacrifice is that, though that happened over 2,000 years ago, that blood is still flowing today. It has never lost its power. It has never lost its authority.

“There is a fountain filled with blood, drawn from Emmanuel’s veins; and sinners plunged beneath that flood, lose all their guilty stains” (“There Is a Fountain,” hymn by William Cowper and William Gardiner). You are wasting your life, you are wasting money, and you are wasting time, if you didn’t start with the man who bore your sins. All anyone else can do is plaster you up, candy-coat you, and give you pills to deaden the pain, but they can’t change one thing about you. Nobody could bear your sins except Christ Jesus. The Captain of Our Salvation has taken the authority away from the Devil, and He hands it to as many of you who believe.

“Beloved, now are we the sons of God” (1 John 3:2).

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