When Jesus was 30 he went to the prison of sin, and knocked on the door. Satan opened that little window and said, “What do you want?” Jesus told him: “I have come to set the captives free!”
A sermon by the late Reinhard Bonnke
I was once in a church in Germany and behind the pulpit was an empty cross. I like an empty cross because Jesus no longer hangs on it – he’s now on the throne of all thrones! But as I looked at that cross the Holy Spirit touched my eyes and I saw something I had never seen before – something so simple yet so profound!
A cross consists of two beams – a horizontal beam and a vertical beam. The whole human story is bound up there, as well as God’s glorious plan of salvation. It’s all in those two beams.
First, the horizontal beam is the same sign as we use for a ‘minus’. That’s our part of the cross of Jesus Christ. We are all born with a ‘minus’! But God sent his Son Jesus Christ and he did something absolutely glorious.
Outside of Jerusalem on the hill called Golgotha or Calvary, a miracle happened: Jesus crossed through our ‘minus’ from top to bottom – and turned it into a ‘plus’! I look on the cross as God’s ‘plus factor’. It’s the gospel power of God. Jesus turns a ‘minus’ into a ‘plus’, he turns negative into positive, he turns sin into salvation, he turns hate into love, he turns disaster into success, and hell into heaven. This is the very heart of the gospel.
In 1 Peter 1:18 we read that, “You were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold… but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish.”
And in 1 John 1:7, “If we walk in the light as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanses us from all sin.”
There is power in the blood of Jesus to wash every sinner. And to wash every sin – past, present, future – away. Power, glorious power!
Many times I am asked, “How can you say that the blood of Jesus has such awesome power to wash away the sins of all people?” One lady said to me, “It cannot be true! If your Jesus was a very good man, maybe his blood would have had the power to wash away the sins of a hundred people. And maybe if he was exceptionally good, his blood would have the power to wash away the sins of a thousand people. But all people? It’s impossible!”
But I want to tell you why there is so much power in the blood of Jesus and why it has the strength to tackle humankind’s worst nightmare – the nightmare of sin. There is power in the blood of Jesus because it originated with God himself. That is why it is the only blood in the Bible that is called ‘precious’.
You see, although Jesus had a human mother, the virgin Mary, he did not have a human father. He was begotten by God himself. If Joseph had been the father of Jesus, his blood would have been just as sinful and as ordinary as yours and mine. There would be no cleansing from sin and no salvation.
However, Luke – a doctor as well as the writer of the third Gospel – took great pains to investigate the conception of Jesus. He must have interviewed Mary herself and asked her about how Jesus was conceived. She answered him, “The Holy Spirit overwhelmed me and I conceived a child of the Holy Spirit.”
The blood of Jesus therefore cannot be defined in a blood-group. It is singular – absolutely unique. It is precious. It has power to wash away all sin.
Once, I was invited to go to take part in a televised discussion on religion. One man said to me, “Bonnke, you say there is power in the blood of Jesus? Well I don’t believe it! I am an atheist and believe the opposite to you. The blood of Jesus has been in the world for 2,000 years and yet the world is still as bad as it has ever been. This is the proof there is no power in the blood of Jesus.”
“Excuse me,” I said. “But there is also a lot of soap in this world, but many people are still dirty! If I am dirty and standing next to a piece of soap, I am not automatically clean. In fact, you won’t even be automatically clean even if you work in a soap factory! If you want to know what soap will do, you must stretch out your hand, take the soap, and apply it to yourself. Only then will you know what soap can do!
“So it is with the blood of Jesus. It’s not enough just to hear about it – or even to sing about it. You must apply it by stretching out in faith to Jesus and saying, ‘Lord, please cleanse me with your blood from all my sins.’ And he will do it!”
The atheist said to me, “Bonnke, when you speak I can feel something! Something is emanating from you. I have talked to other evangelists and I was thinking, ‘What’s the difference between Bonnke and the others I’ve met. Now I know! The others were amateurs and you are a professional!”
“Sorry, but you are wrong again,” I told him. “I am not a professional evangelist. I am a living piece of evidence that there is power in the blood of Jesus.”
When the session was over and I was walking to my car, the atheist came and tapped me on the shoulder. He whispered in my ear, “Bonnke, may I ask you to pray for me?”
Hallelujah! There is wonder-working power in the blood of Jesus!
How does the blood of Jesus work? In the Old Testament they talked about ‘atonement’. Atonement means ‘covering’. The sins were not removed but merely covered. But when Jesus came, John the Baptist cried out by the River Jordan, “Behold the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world.” Jesus doesn’t just cover our sin – he takes it away completely!
Suppose you have a wonderful table at home, a beautiful family heirloom which has come down through the generations. But you have a ten-year-old son who likes playing with car batteries. When you come home from shopping you see your son has put a battery on the table and leaked acid all over it. The acid has eaten its way into the table top and spoiled it with terrible black marks.
You are crying and your son is crying because it’s your birthday tomorrow and all your guests are coming and the table is spoiled! So you went and got a very nice tablecloth and put it over the ugly mark on the table, and when your guests came for coffee and cake they never saw it. Of course, you didn’t tell anybody that under the tablecloth was a catastrophe! You left it covered up!
But the blood of Jesus has power not just to cover things up. His blood goes under the tablecloth! He knows exactly where the catastrophes of your life are, whether it’s your marriage, the family or the business or whatever. Jesus cleanses us from every sin!
When I was a schoolboy in Germany, there was one subject I hated with all my heart. It was English! I argued with my parents, “I’m German, why should I learn English?” But they wouldn’t release me from the class. Looking back, of course, I was just a foolish little boy.
One day the teacher told us that we were going to write an English essay. I got my exercise book out and just scribbled carelessly in all the pages and so was the first to finish and hand my book in. The next day when I got it back I saw red ink all over it. I had made five mistakes in one word, and I knew when I got home I would be in real trouble! Those were the good old days of parental discipline with the stick!
I put the book in my school case, but as I walked home and thought of my mistakes and what was likely to happen, my case became heavier and heavier. Then I had an idea… I took the exercise book out of my case, threw it in a ditch, then went to a shop and bought a new one. I went home happy, swinging my case! Later on I found some of my friends had done the same!
Now, of course, if you spoil an exercise book you can just get a new one. But if you spoil your life with sin, you can’t just throw your life away and get another one, because you have only one life to live. That’s why so many people are in despair.
But I am telling you this: if you want to throw your life away, throw it into the nail-pierced hands of Jesus. He will catch you. He will take you and make you brand-new.
There is power in the blood of Jesus. The blood of Jesus is the only cleansing agent that can take away all the stains your life has been marked with. There is wonder-working power in the blood of the Lamb. It is absolutely unique, just as your salvation is unique to you.
We can recycle glass and paper and a whole lot of things, but we cannot recycle human nature.
Only Jesus can unscramble a scrambled egg! If your life today is like a scrambled egg, come to Jesus and you will hatch!
● A sermon Bonnke preached at Hillsong Church, Australia, in 2013. From Direction Magazine issue 227