“The Blood of Abel”

Categories: Bulletin Articles, M. W. Bassford

The more we learn about the Bible, the better we will understand it. Because God's word is a unity, even books that were written thousands of years apart are interconnected. Many parts of the New Testament are so closely related to Old-Testament stories that trying to understand the former without the latter is nearly impossible.

One such reference appears in Hebrews 12:24. There, the Hebrews writer tells us that the sprinkled blood of Jesus says better things than the blood of Abel. If all we've got is a New Testament, we are sunk. There is no way for us to understand this!

However, with the help of the story of Cain and Abel, which is recorded in Genesis 4, we can see that the Hebrews writer is making a powerful point. There, we learn that these two brothers offered different sacrifices to God. Abel’s was pleasing; Cain’s wasn't. Out of jealousy, Cain killed his brother, committing the first murder.

Cain soon learned, though, that even though Abel was dead, the consequences of his crime continued. In Genesis 4:10-11, God points out the evidence for Cain’s sin and its implications. He tells the murderer that his brother's blood cries out against him from the ground. Because of this, Cain was now under a curse, alienated from the ground that had drunk that blood.

That's what the blood of Abel says. It announces that great sin has been committed and condemns the sinner with a curse. The blood of Christ, however, speaks better than that blood.

In order to appreciate this, we must recognize the ways in which the blood of Abel and the blood of Christ are alike. Both Abel and Christ were innocent and did not deserve death, so when the blood of each was shed, it was a shedding of innocent blood.

Nonetheless, the consequences of these two murders are very different. The blood of Abel cried out against Cain and proved that he was guilty. By contrast, when we are sprinkled with the blood of Christ as we obey the gospel, that blood announces our forgiveness, not our guilt. It washes us clean rather than staining us.

Additionally, although the blood of Abel on Cain brought a curse, the blood of Jesus removes a curse from us. Because all of us have sinned, all of us are cursed with death and eternal death. On the cross, Jesus became a curse for us. He died in our place so that we could inherit eternal life instead.

Thus, when the Hebrews writer tells us that the blood of Christ speaks better than the blood of Abel, he is making a massive understatement! The blood of Abel condemned Cain with its testimony; the blood of Christ justifies us with its testimony. The whole course of Cain’s life was blighted by the blood that stained his hands, but our eternal destiny is transformed for good by the sprinkled blood that cleanses us.