By Melissa McLaughlin
For many years, I struggled to understand this phrase from the Bible, “the blood speaks a better word.” Bit by bit, the deep beauty these words carry has captured my heart.
We Cry for Justice
When we see an injustice, our hearts cry out for wrongs to be made right. For justice to be served.
Our innate sense of what is fair, right and good surges up within us. Understandably so. We don’t want to see a thief get away with our neighbor’s hard earned money. We don’t want to see a child molester get away with the abduction of our niece or nephew. We don’t want to see a business person stealing money from workers or customers.
We call for what is right. We call for justice. We call for restitution.
Why does this sense of justice bubble up within us?
The God who made us, is a God of justice, righteousness, truth.
Psalm 33:4-5 – For the word of the Lord is right and true; he is faithful in all he does. The Lord loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of his unfailing love.
Another Cry for Justice
This same call for justice, was the heart’s call of someone many years ago. His name was Abel. His story is found in Genesis 4:3-10.
Now Abel kept flocks, and Cain worked the soil. In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the Lord. And Abel also brought an offering—fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast.
Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.”
Now Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let’s go out to the field.” While they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.
Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?”
“I don’t know,” he replied. “Am I my brother’s keeper?”
The Lord said, “What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground. Now you are under a curse and driven from the ground, which opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. When you work the ground, it will no longer yield its crops for you. You will be a restless wanderer on the earth.”
In this passage, the Bible does not overtly state why Cain’s offering was less favorable than Abel’s. However, with careful reading, we can see that Cain offered some of the fruits, while Abel offered the best – fat portions of the firstborn of his flock. From this we can reasonably infer that Abel gave a heartfelt, utmost offering to God.
Regardless of the specifics, we know one thing… God looks upon the heart. And His judgments are true. God’s vision penetrated beyond the physical offerings into the heart behind each.
In the next verse, God graciously encouraged Cain to do what is right, so God clearly knew Cain’s intentions were not good or pure.
Despite God’s gentle words of instruction, Cain’s heart spilled over with deep jealousy at God’s favor toward Abel’s choices. Tragically, Cain killed Abel, adding another glimpse into the depths of Cain’s sin-blackened heart.
When questioned by God, Cain lied and tried to cover up the murder by saying he didn’t know where Abel was. God answered the question for him, “Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground.”
Abel’s blood was calling for justice, righteousness and judgment. For justice to be served.
How does the blood of Jesus speak a better word than the blood of Abel?
In an intriguing twist, this same passage is woven into the New Testament in Hebrews 12:23b-24 – You have come to God, the Judge of all, to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.
Abel was wronged. Abel was murdered though he was innocent. Doesn’t this call for justice?
In the case of Abel, God carried out both justice and mercy. As punishment for his murderous actions, Cain was driven from the ground and made to be a wanderer. Justice was served. Yet, God in His mercy made provision for Cain’s life as seen in Genesis 4:16 – Then the Lord put a mark on Cain so that no one who found him would kill him. So Cain went out from the Lord’s presence and lived in the land of Nod, east of Eden.
Jesus Calls For Mercy
Similarly, Jesus was wronged. However, in stark contrast, though Jesus was innocent, He willingly laid down His own life.
His blood called for mercy.
Even as He hung on the cross, drenched in pain and dripping with blood, Jesus cried out, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” Luke 23:34
In a stunning move, through Jesus’ death on the cross, God once again carried out both justice and mercy.
Jesus took on the sins of humanity and accepted the penalty for our sins. God did not turn a blind eye to our sin or sweep it under the rug, for God is just, righteous and true. However, God is also merciful. In His mercy, God allowed His Son, Jesus, to be our substitute, to take our place as a sacrificial Lamb.
When we see wrongdoings, our sense of righteousness cries out for justice to be served. Thankfully, our spirits can rest in God, for on the last day, God will indeed judge the living and the dead. He will most certainly take care of exacting justice. And His judgments are true, for only God knows the thoughts and motives of every heart.
Mercifully, for those of us who believe in Jesus as our Savior and Lord, His blood speaks a better word. Jesus’ blood speaks both justice and mercy. God maintains His purity and truth by requiring the wages due for our sin, which is death. But in His mercy, God Himself, pays the death sentence and purchases us with His own blood.
The blood of Jesus speaks a better word.
Like a sacrificial offering in the Old Testament, where the blood was sprinkled to symbolize atonement for sins, consecration to the Lord and our covenant with God, so we are symbolically sprinkled with the blood of Jesus through our faith in Him.
For many years, I never really grasped the meaning of this phrase, “the blood speaks a better word.” After finally uncovering the layers of truth and mercy embedded in these few simple words, it brings tears to my eyes and I am undone.
As sinful people, we would never stand a chance before a holy God.
Hallelujah! Jesus bridges the otherwise unbreachable chasm between us. The blood of Jesus fulfills laws of justice and then cries, “Mercy!”
Hallelujah! His blood speaks a better word!
That word is… Mercy!