Over the next few weeks we are going to embark on a study of some of the words of Jesus. We’re calling it Red Letter Review: Insights from the words of Jesus.
Most of you have probably seen a Red Letter Bible — that is, a Bible which prints the actual words of Jesus in red ink so they don’t have to be always set off with quotation marks, and so you can readily find when Jesus is speaking.
The words of Jesus are certainly the heart of the gospel. You have Paul’s letters which contain doctrine and instructions for the church, and the law and the prophets of the Old Testament that point to Christ, and the wisdom literature primarily of David and Solomon for practical living, but the words of Jesus stand out as being direct revelation from God. In a time of great division in the world, in our culture and in the church, it seems good and right to focus on what we all can agree on as being central to the faith, that is, the actual words of Jesus, God’s communication to us all. “In the beginning was the word … and the word became flesh.” (John 1)
And something else indicated in the red letters that my wife pointed out to me last night — something that we all understand — something common to us all that connects us all, and that would be the blood that gives us life. Red is indeed the appropriate color.
I must admit, when I first heard her suggest this I thought it was a stretch. Was it just a coincidence that red was chosen and not blue or green? Or was there something to it? And then I read in the history of the red letter edition that Louis Klopsch, then editor of The Christian Herald magazine, and the one who came up with the first version of the Red Letter New Testament in 1899 that his inspiration came from Luke 22:20, “This cup is the new testament in my blood, which I shed for you,” or better yet, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which I shed for you.
Yes, there is red spilling out over the pages of this Bible. It is the blood of the new testament that saves us from our sins and sets us free. Our salvation is written in blood. Thanks be to God!