Friday, October 07, 2011

Guest blog from Seminary Professor and Author, Marc Cortez: Life and Death: Twin Moons Circling the Same Planet

Today's guest post to celebrate Night of the Living Dead Christian comes from Marc Cortez, who runs my favorite blog on the internet. I am not exaggerating. Favorite blog. Internet. Marc has an amazing ability to be a deep thinker about theology (he is, after all, a seminary professor and can write books like Theological Anthropology: A Guide for the Perplexed and Embodied Souls, Ensouled Bodies: An Exercise in Christological Anthropology and Its Significance for the Mind/Body Debate ) and simultaneously a guy with encyclopedic knowledge about all sorts of Geekery including science fiction novels and a surprisingly diverse number of television shows. You can feel comfortable asking Marc hard theological questions or bringing up the Godzilla vs. King Kong debate, and he can converse freely on either topic without meeting a beat. Marc has a real ability to bring balance and historical perspective to difficult theological questions in a way that is uncommon and much needed. You can connect with him on facebook and twitter, and if you enjoy this post, be sure to check out his series of posts related to a book he is writing about the gospel. For now, sit back and drink deeply of this post about Life, Death and Blood....


It’s been too long. I feel weak. Dizzy. Can’t think.

There. Down there. A woman. She’ll do. She has to.

Drop behind her. Cloak flapping in the wind. Didn’t make too much noise. Perfect. 

Grab her shoulder. Push her head to the side. Savor the smell. 

It’s time. Bite. Pierce the tender skin. Let the hot blood flow. Taste life. Feel it. 

My strength returns. My mind clears. For the first time in days, my cold flesh feels warm again.  I’m still dead. Nothing can change that. But, now I get to be dead for another day. She took care of that with her unwilling gift.  

Blood is life.
Everything was so good just a few seconds ago. The concert was amazing and I haven’t had a girls’ night out in so long. A quiet walk home under the full moon seemed like the perfect ending to a lovely, summer evening.

Now something has changed. I can’t pin it down, but it’s not right. I’ve got that tingling feeling on the back of my neck that you get when you think someone is staring at you. But, there’s no one here. I’m probably being irrational. Maybe I shouldn’t have walked home alone.

What’s that? It sounds like a flag flapping in a stiff breeze. That’s odd. There’s no wind.

Someone’s grabbed me! I have to struggle, fight, scream, get away, anything. But, I can’t. Something’s wrong. I’m getting weak, dizzy. I can’t think clearly. Everything’s fading. Where am I? What’s going on? What’s happening to me?

I'm on the ground. How did I get here? A few bright red drops hit the ground in front of my eyes. Blood? My blood? I must….

Blood is death.
One substance, two very different results. Life and death. Twin moons circling the same planet.

That’s how the Bible views blood. On the one hand, blood is what keeps us alive and allows us to be what God intended. In Eden, God created blood, and it was good. But, sin and evil entered the world and shattered God’s good creation. And, blood came to mean something else. Still the source of life, it also became the symbol of death. 

You can see this most clearly in the biblical sacrifices. If you stop and think about it for a moment, sacrifices are weird. Imagine that you’re an Israelite and you’ve just sinned. What should you do? Why, go lop the head off some poor, innocent ram, of course. That’s a great system. At least it is for the human; I’m sure the ram sees things differently.

The point of the sacrifice, though, wasn’t to take out Israel’s problems on some innocent animal. That would be weird. No, the sacrifices demonstrated the devastating connection between sin and death. With clocklike regularity, the Israelites brought their animals to the priests and shed blood as a reminder of the fact that they lived east of Eden, in the brokenness of sin, in bondage to death. As Paul says later, “the wages of sin is death” (Rom. 3:23). And, every time the Israelites brought forward their sin sacrifices, they reminded themselves of this truth.

At the same time, though, the blood brought a promise of life. Israel always knew that somehow it was only by shedding blood that forgiveness and life would be restored to God’s people. God promised he would forgive and cleanse his people when they brought their sacrifices to him. 

But why? What is the connection between blood and death on the one hand and the promise of forgiveness and life on the other? The Old Testament never says. The Israelites just take it on faith that God will be faithful and will do what he promises.

Then Jesus came.

And, we killed him, shedding his blood on the cross.

And the truth became clear.

We still see the dark side of blood. The betrayals, beatings, mockery, loneliness, pain, blood, and death. Could there be a clearer picture? The Messiah came, and we killed him.

But the blood of Christ means so much more. Jesus died so he could break the power of death. His death was not the pointless sacrifice of a tragic Shakespearean hero. It had purpose. Jesus died so that we might be reborn as those who have the gift of life.

Blood is death. Blood is life. On the cross, both are true.

“This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”

Come and drink. An invitation to vampires everywhere.


  1. "Blood is death. Blood is life. On the cross, both are true."

    While this is totally true, the presentation above is to me also totally disturbing! I can't quite identify why. The last sentence though does take me back to John 6:53-60. I might be missing something here like the followers of Jesus that turned back because they couldn't get past the apparently cannibalistic/vampirish point, but none the less, I find this disturbing...

  2. Hmm, interesting. Maybe Marc will drop by and give us some insight as to whether he was going for "disturbing" or not.

  3. Actually, it was. Blood is disturbing. At least, it should be. But I think we lose sight of that in Christian circles because we've grown so accustomed to talking about it. We throw around "blood of the cross" and "blood of the lamb" without stopping to think about what we're talking about. So, this was definitely intended to shake us up a bit a remember what "blood" actually means, and what we mean when we say that he shed his blood for us and that the cup of communion represents his blood.