Deep into the belly of Autumn now, the trees almost flare in vivid color. They stand aglow in scarlet shades, quite impossible to miss, even for the often busy and distracted types like me. We have bright-red Sumac trees in our backyard that turn the color of cherry meat when the air turns chilled. They are quite a spectacle to behold. Like tall, lanky valentines offered smack dab in the middle of Fall. These trees have just recently opened their grip on the last leaves of their warm-season coats, surrendering once again to winter's demands. Now, only bark skin and barren bones remain. As Halloween quickly approaches on the calendar, it seems they are dawning homemade skeleton costumes all their own.
Speaking of Halloween, as I walk around my neighborhood, I notice the many gory displays indictive of this time of year - some outright neck-hair raising. Ghastly ghouls and goblins have moved in and taken up residence in the typically docile yards. Now, strewn with plastic body parts covered in fake-blood-splatter, they look like something straight out of "The Walking Dead". I'm all for decorating for the holidays, but personally prefer a much milder, way less creepy variety. I sense myself picking up my pace to more quickly pass by.
As my walk continues, my mind begins to consider a strange and completely unique characteristic of blood: Death and life being equally represented at the very same time through the very same element. An odd thing for sure. Then, being the thought-tangent trail taker that I am, I go further on this path and remember the book of Exodus. In chapter twelve we read that God gave the command that the doorposts of the Hebrew homes in Egypt be sprinkled with the blood of a blemish-free lamb on the very first Passover. Without this act of obedience, death was sure to conquer and destroy those inside. But, these faithful they did what they were told and God saw red.
And then God saved those lives covered by the covenantal blood:
"The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are, and when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt." Exodus 12:13 (NIV)
That fateful time of history foreshadowed another. Roughly 1,300 years after that first Passover miracle, God saw red again. He saw mankind's sin and depravity and abysmal attraction to darkness and instead of blowing us to smithereens, He saved. He broke His own body instead, and in our stead. Christ hung on the crimson-stained cross-tree colored by His own perfect blood poured out, every last drop. God was red. He was life and death for us. For us. Jesus' grace emptied out, filling our barren vessel-souls up with eternal life and hope!
Oh how the love of God astounds!
The fully innocent was killed for the guilty. It was a gory scene, unbelievable really. The bystanders at the cross saw red too. The beaten and bloodied Savior of the world was the sign of the new agreement signed in blood by God Himself. Covenantal red poured out once again, and one final sacrifice was offered. God seeing red this time meant salvation for us all who heeded His call to believe:
"How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!" Hebrews 9:14 (NIV)
Father God saw red. He must have been angry that human sin had done this to His beloved, and only Son. He must have felt indescribably disappointed at His creation's bent towards self-destruction. But, He must have also felt incredible, deep and wide and immeasurable, love for us to offer us this kind of grace (Eph. 3:18-19). God is infinitely and undeniably good and His heart is for us and not against us. Christ's cross and perfect blood-sacrifice is an awesome display of this fact!
As life's seasons turn in their many changes and colors, I will try and stop to remember to see red in each of my days, because seeing red in the light of the cross and what God did there is worthy of my reverence, contemplation, and thanksgiving no matter the season.
Question: Have you seen red and read your Bible lately? If not, open to the Gospel of John today and begin to read about our good and gracious God that loves you more that you can possibly understand - the words in red are spoken by love Himself!