I was enjoying the singing at Nepali church until we started singing Hymn 119, “The Lord Jesus’ cool blood flows in the heart”…” The fountain of blood is fresh, sister, on Golgotha hill.” This to me was shockingly gross! Yet my Nepali brothers and sisters were singing this song with a peculiar passion!
In fact, I discovered that there are many Nepali hymns that graphically describe the blood of Jesus. Many Nepali Christians seem to especially love these hymns.
I was aware that the Old Testament operated on a blood sacrifice system atoning for sins, but I was very glad that this system had long ago been superseded by the once for all sacrifice of Jesus.
After many years living in Nepal and witnessing first hand animal sacrifices; sometimes at a temple or at a shrine or even over the back fence in my neighbour’s house when they called the priest for a special ritual, I began to understand the OT system from a much more contemporary perspective. “Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sin” says Hebrews 9:22.
In addition to sacrifices at the regular Hindu festivals, Nepalis often are asked to make a sacrifice as part of the ritual for a relative to be healed, or for a wife to become pregnant or a rite of passage. The OT system of sacrifices is still very much alive for many Nepalis.
I began to realise that for Nepali believers who have converted to Christianity from this culture, the significance of blood sacrifice is very poignant. They are greatly relieved to be free from the obligation to regularly offer animal sacrifices. They also seem to have a deeper gratitude to Jesus, “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world”. Because His sacrifice was provided by God Himself, only His sacrifice can be truly effective in dealing with our sin once for all! Gradually I also began to appreciate the chorus of another hymn (Hymn 247) which we often sing at communion time…“by the blood, by the blood, by the blood of Jesus”.
Breathing the Bible is an INF Australia blog series, exploring how life and service in Nepal influenced the way people read and respond to Scripture.
The author of this post is currently serving in Nepal and wishes to remain anonymous in order to support and protect Nepali Christians.
Other posts in the series:
Breathing The Bible: Family
Breathing The Bible: Fellowship
Breathing The Bible: Prayer
Breathing The Bible: Justice
Breathing The Bible: Story
Breathing The Bible: Kingdom
Breathing The Bible: Wedding
Breathing The Bible: Gain