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In the beginning, both humans and animals were created to be vegetarians. Genesis 1:29-30 states, “God also said: See, I give you every seed-bearing plant on all the earth and every tree that has seed-bearing fruit on it to be your food; and to all the wild animals, all the birds of the air, and all the living creatures that crawl on the earth, I give all the green plants for food. And so it happened.” This directive emphasized a harmonious existence where life did not consume life.

Post-Flood Dietary Changes

After the Great Flood, God expanded the human diet to include meat. Genesis 9:3 states, “Any living creature that moves about shall be yours to eat; I give them all to you as I did the green plants.” This marked a significant shift in the relationship between humans and animals. However, God placed a crucial restriction in Genesis 9:4, “Only meat with its lifeblood still in it you shall not eat.” The sanctity of blood, as the life force of all creatures, was to be respected.

Blood and the Israelites

God’s prohibition against consuming blood was reiterated to the Israelites. Leviticus 17:14 emphasizes, “since the life of all flesh is its blood. I have told the Israelites: You shall not consume the blood of any flesh. Since the life of all flesh is its blood, anyone who consumes it shall be cut off.” Blood, representing life, was considered sacred and reserved for sacrificial atonement in the Temple, highlighting its divine significance.

Jesus and the New Covenant

The concept of consuming blood was deeply ingrained in Jewish law, making Jesus’ command to drink his blood revolutionary and, to many, scandalous. In John 6:53-56, Jesus declares, “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him.”

Through his blood, Jesus offers his life to humanity, symbolizing a profound spiritual truth. The act of drinking his blood in the Holy Eucharist represents the indwelling of Christ within us, making believers the living temple of God.

The Passover Lamb and Jesus

During the first Passover, the Israelites marked their doorposts with the blood of the lamb, signifying their obedience and God’s protection (Ex 12:22). This act prefigured Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. In the New Testament, Jesus is identified as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (Jn 1:29). His blood, shed on the cross, is the ultimate means of salvation, symbolizing the doorway to eternal life.

Covenants and the Blood

Blood was integral to covenant-making in the Old Testament. At Mount Sinai, Moses used blood to seal the covenant between God and Israel, as described in Exodus 24:8, “Then he took the blood and splashed it on the people, saying, ‘This is the blood of the covenant which the LORD has made with you according to all these words.’” Jesus’ establishment of the New Covenant is mirrored in this tradition. At the Last Supper, Jesus proclaimed, “For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins” (Mt 26:28).


As Christians, understanding the significance of blood in the Bible deepens our appreciation for the sacrifice of Jesus. The prohibition against consuming blood underscores the sanctity of life, and Jesus’ invitation to partake in his blood through the Eucharist brings us into intimate communion with him. It is a call to recognize the profound spiritual transformation that occurs when we accept Jesus’ sacrifice. By drinking his blood, we not only honor his covenant but also embrace the eternal life he offers.

May we, as believers, continually renew our covenant with Christ through the Holy Eucharist, allowing his life to dwell within us and guide us in our journey of faith. Let us live in gratitude for the precious blood of Jesus that cleanses us from sin and unites us with God.

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