In the Bible, the color red has a lot going on. Red is the color of clay. Red is the color of blood and when blood is on the outside, that’s bad. Why? Because life is in the blood, and without life, you’re dead. Red is also a strong, bold attention-grabber.
While all modern translations say the “God formed man of the dust from the ground” (Genesis 2.7, ESV) the Hebrew word for dust is also properly translated “clay”. It is no surprise then, that later on we see passages like Isaiah 64.8 saying “…we are the clay and [God is] the potter; we are the work of [His] hand”. God has formed people from the red clay. And people’s lives are only truly fulfilled when they allow God to once put His hand to them- to the clay, molding them into what He would have them to be.
Being made into a new vessel, new person, by God is the point of being born again in baptism. In baptism, we “receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2.38), a treasure in a jar of clay (2 Corinthians 4.7). This is done by blood on the outside. Because Jesus gave His life’s blood I can be born again. The power of His blood is efficacious to soften the hardest clay, making it usable for the Potter. A fountain of bright red blood flows from His veins, “and sinners plunged beneath that flood lose all their guilty stains”.
The color red has another use in scripture; it is a warning. Red symbolizes cold, hard, matter-of-fact justice. Today it is used in a similar fashion. Stop signs are red. Ignore the sign and you get (at full speed) what is coming at you. In some ways you could say this is a good reason for blood to be red. From the common-sense Paramedic’s manual: “If it’s bleeding, make it stop”. Red is associated with a danger to unaltered behavior. In Revelation 6.4 the second rider rides a bright red horse. “…It’s rider was permitted to take peace form the earth, so that people should slay one another…” The people effected by this unrest are those who did not submit to the conquering call for salvation offered by the first rider in verses previous. Thus, the color red warns of justice.
Justice demands we pay for our sins. However, mercy is available by the red blood of Jesus. Will you, red clay person that you are, heed the warning?