BCP Lent 5 Hebrews 9:11-15
11 But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; 12 Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. 13 For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: 14 How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? 15 And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.
Hebrews, as the name suggests, was written primarily to Jews. One of the things the writer wants to establish is the way that Jesus meets the requirements of the Old Testament, and to show that the New Testament that he brings in is superior to the old, and supersedes it.
11 But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building;
The Old Testament religion was very vivid and visible. It featured a man made tabernacle or temple. A place where man and God met. It also involved the sacrifice of animals with their blood being liberally used. In contrast the perfect tabernacle of Jesus is not a physical, created thing, but a spiritual state, of being with God. Heaven.
We will contrast the Old and New Testament in three areas. The sacrifices. What this achieved. And what this resulted in.
The Old Testament sacrifices were repeated again and again. Yet Jesus' sacrifice was "once and for all" verse 12, N.I.V. It obtained "eternal redemption", so has an everlasting effect.
Animals are amoral, they have no conscience and no concept of what is right and wrong. They had no choice when they were chosen to be sacrificed.
Jesus, however, offered himself without spot to God, verse 14.
Jesus was perfect. Without spot or blemish. He always followed the ways of God. He always loved God with his whole being. He always loved others more than himself. He showed this when he voluntarily and deliberately offered his life on the cross. Not his physical life but his spiritual life. Whilst on the cross Jesus not only endured physical death, he also bore spiritual death which is separation from God. This was because he took the punishment for the sins of the world so his followers may be free of condemnation and free to follow God.
What this achieved.
Verse 13 says that animal sacrifices purify the flesh, that is to say they make someone outwardly and ritually clean. In contrast Jesus sacrifice makes us inwardly and spiritually clean.
When we decide to unite our life with Christ God no longer sees us in our trespasses and sin but he sees Jesus' righteous instead. When we unite our life with Christ Jesus comes and lives within us by His Spirit. The Spirit makes us more like Jesus. He gives the power to live for God and the gifts to serve God.
This results in two things.
eternal redemption verse 12. The image is of a market place. The word 'redemption' means to 'buy back'. Jesus paid the price for our sin on the cross. This brings us 'eternal life', a life lived in a right relationship with God. This eternal life blossoms into eternity which is the promise of eternal inheritance promised in verse 15.
[ The sacrifices. What this achieved. And ]
What this resulted in.
Until we come to Christ every good thing we do is meaningless in God's eyes because our sin separates us from him. This is what purge your conscience from dead works verse 14 means. Once we are united with Christ we are free to serve the living God, verse 14.
What can we take from this passage today?
Realise that it is only through Jesus' once and for all sacrifice on the cross that we can enjoy aright relationship with God in this life and into eternity.
Reject the way of good works that many confuse with Christianity. Being good doesn't make someone a Christian. Being a Christian releases someone to be good.
Rejoice in what God has done for us in Jesus. Freeing us from our sins. Enabling us to look forward to our inheritance that will never perish, spoil or fade, kept in heaven for us ( 1 Peter 1:4 ).
Readiness to serve the living God. He calls and equips every Christian to minister for him by His Spirit working within us.
David Livingstone. "People talk of the sacrifice I have made in spending so much of my life in Africa. Can that be called a sacrifice which is simply acknowledging a great debt we owe to our God, which we can never repay? Is that a sacrifice which brings its own reward in healthful activity, the consciousness of doing good, peace of mind, and a bright hope of a glorious destiny? It is emphatically no sacrifice. Rather it is a privilege. Anxiety, sickness, suffering, danger, foregoing the common conveniences of this life--these may make us pause, and cause the spirit to waver, and the soul to sink; but let this only be for a moment. All these are nothing compared with the glory which shall later be revealed in and through us. I never made a sacrifice. Of this we ought not to talk, when we remember the great sacrifice which He made who left His Father's throne on high to give Himself for us."