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The Great Transfusion

Updated: Apr 27, 2023

As we travel through Lent, we recall Luther’s speaking, in a letter to Georg Spenlein (1516), of Holy Week as the occasion of the Great Exchange:

Therefore, my dear brother, learn Christ and him crucified. Learn to pray to him and, despairing of yourself, say: “Thou, Lord Jesus, art my righteousness, but I am thy sin. Thou hast taken upon thyself what is mine and hast given to me what is thine. Thou has taken upon thyself what thou wast not and hast given to me what I was not.”

Calvin likewise in his Institutes writes,

This is the wondrous exchange [mirifica commutatio] made by his boundless goodness. Having become with us the Son of Man, he has made us with himself sons of God. By his own descent to the earth he has prepared our ascent to heaven. Having received our mortality, he has bestowed on us his immortality. Having undertaken our weakness, he has made us strong in his strength. Having submitted to our poverty, he has transferred to us his riches. Having taken upon himself the burden of unrighteousness with which we were oppressed, he has clothed us with his righteousness.

At the conclusion of her poem “Trauma centre,” Luci Shaw puts it graphically, in the spirit of Isaiah 53 and Galatians 2:20:


But because he
was once emptied,
I am each day refilled;
my spirit-arteries
pulse with the vital red
of love; poured out,
it is his life that now
pumps through
my own heart’s core.
He bled, and died, and I
have been transfused.

Can you feel the blood rush in your veins?

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