Today’s Reading: Hebrews 8-10
Today’s Reflection: Hebrews 9:24-28
24) For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. 25) Nor was it to offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the holy places every year with blood not his own, 26) for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. 27) And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, 28) so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.
Today’s text deals with a simple reality of profound importance to the audience of Hebrews: the ceremonial nature of sacrifice.
The sacrificial system was a critical part of the sanctuary service, as the sacrificing of animals by the priests on behalf of the people was meant to atone for their sins and ultimately to spare them the penalty of sin, which is death. But these animal sacrifices were only ever symbols, never truly capable of removing sins.
Hebrews 10:4 – For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.
What the animal sacrifices symbolized however, could remove sin.
John 1:29 – The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!
The animal sacrifices symbolized the coming Messiah, who would lay down His own life to atone for the sins of all mankind. His sacrifice would be different from the animal sacrifices in two crucial ways. First of all as previously pointed out, the blood of Christ was and is actually capable of removing sin from mankind. Secondly, the system of animal sacrifices was constant and continual from its inception. There were sacrifices for feast days, for Sabbaths each week, and daily at morning and evening. This went on non-stop, until Jesus crucifixion. Jesus sacrifice, the true sacrifice that accomplished all that the symbolic sacrifices never could, happened just once.
That one death, that one sacrifice, opened the door to freedom and eternal life for everyone who had ever lived or would ever live.
Romans 6:9-10 – 9) We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10) For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God.
This is important because there is a work Jesus is doing in heaven on our behalf that He could not be doing if He were continually being sacrificed over and over.
John 14:2-3 – 2) In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3) And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.
This is also important because there are Christian traditions that believe in a literal re-crucifixion of Jesus enacted through the Lord’s Supper (communion to Protestants, the eucharist to Catholics and Anglicans) which makes them subject to a ritual in order to receive Christ, rather than subject to the Holy Spirit through which Jesus dwells within us.
Revelation 3:20 – Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.
We need to know and understand that Jesus died once for all time, that salvation and eternal life is ours if we accept it, and that no other sacrifice is required to save us (though we ourselves become living sacrifices to God when we accept Jesus sacrifice—Romans 12:1).