To him who has loved us and 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.
What a wonderful Savior we have! He not only forgives but cleanses and frees us from sin and establishes us in His kingdom, includes us in His family. The phrase occurs only here in the Bible – Christ frees us from our sins by his blood.
It is more common to read that Christ cleanses us from our sins by his blood, but frees gives us a similar but somewhat different image. Some of the oldest manuscripts available show “freed” and the later ones show “washed” here. Scholars suspect that this was a copy-error, that is one word that sounded like the original was substituted accidentally, like “right” and “rite” which sound identical. Lousanti meaning “wash” was substituted for lusanti meaning “free” – so translators are split into how to translate this. Neither, however, is incorrect theologically, and both are in complete agreement with the biblical message, and either makes perfect sense. By His blood we are washed and freed from our sins. By this one act of this one Man at one time, was all the sins of all men for all time paid. Sin is like caked on mud that weighs us down and Christ removes the sin and lifts us out of the miry clay. He sets our feet upon a rock!
That He has done this for us and in us is enough reason to love Him, but He never leaves us alone, struggling to live for Him in isolation. He calls us into a new kingdom and a new family where love is the rule, where each citizen and member is precious and greatly adored and valued. If we ever feel ignored and devalued in the presence of Christians, then they are not accurately representing God’s thoughts about us. He loves us completely and entirely and values us. We are His treasured possession. In the kingdom of God we adore Him but also we recognize one another as the people He loves.
Wouldn’t this be a wonderful characteristic of all Christian communities on earth! If we treasured one another like God does – if we lifted each other up instead of putting each other down, encouraged more than criticized, left jealousy and envy out of our hearts all together and preferred each other more than we do ourselves. The fallen values of the world permeate our fallen natures, but the new nature that the Spirit gives us is created in the image of Christ. Surely, if we know Him at all, we will begin to love who He loves and treat one another with respect, kindness, deference, and consideration.
What a witness we could give to the world by simply living out the sympathies of God – if we could simply say and practice love. The world puts you down but you find love here! Here we try to make everyone truly feel as special as they are to God! Of course, love is not only sentiment, and overly sentimental expressions may not be true love at all. We may be in love with the idea of love, rather love people themselves. Also, love does not sanction every wrong attitude or action – we love the sinner but not the sin – and there are times when we must rebuke in love, speak the truth in love. But surely the point is validly made, that we should love one another because He loves us, and even the strongest rebuke must be given in confidence that the One who began a good work in our brother or sister will carry it through to completion (Phil. 1:6).
To such a One as this, One who has redeemed us and loves and treasures us, we can honestly shout “To him be glory and power for ever!” – glory for what He has already done and power for what He will continue to do in the future. We give Him glory in our praise and we give Him power over us as we surrender our lives to Him. We give Him glory as we want our lives to point others to Him, and we say like Paul did, “By the grace of God I am what I am.” And though He created all and owns all, He delights in the human heart that willingly surrenders itself to Him, that hands over the controls into His hands.