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Hebrews 9:15-28: The Greater Sacrifice and Our Great High Priest (Part 2) Print E-mail
Sunday, 11 December 2016


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Death is hunting you. You may not feel it right now, especially if you are young and strong, but it is coming for you nonetheless. You have a tracker on you called Ďsinful humanityí and no matter how much you fight or how far you try to run, you cannot escape the certainty of death. It will find you in the end. People do all that they can to avoid thinking about this reality. Not only do they do what they can to actually avoid death, but many do all that they can to not even think about it. They fear death so much that they spend their lives trying to ignore it. Yet, since we cannot escape it, we dare not ignore it. We must find a way to deal with death.

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The good news is that the Bible is not silent about death. It does not ignore the issue. In fact, it provides a hopeful answer for the problem of death. This answer is found on almost every page of the New Testament, but the author of Hebrews deals with death specifically in Hebrews 9. As we have noted, he is showing the original readers that Christ is superior to everything. His priesthood is superior (ch. 7), His covenant is superior (ch. 8), and His sacrifice is superior (ch. 9:1-10:18). We saw in our text last week the beginning of his argument for the greatness of Christís sacrifice. In our passage this morning, we see how His superior sacrifice relates to death. And in this discussion, we see the great hope that we can have as followers of Christ concerning death. So then, what does the author say about death in this passage?

The necessity of death for the forgiveness of sins (v. 15-22)

Where does death come from? Why is it universal? Why is it the unavoidable ending of every life? The simple answer is sin. Everything dies because of sin. We get old because of sin. Our bodies wear out because of sin. Death is a result of manís sin. And we need help if we are going to deal with our sin. But look at the good news in verse 15. The author has shown us the superiority of Christís sacrifice by pointing out that it will purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God (v. 14). Building upon that idea, the author concludes that now Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, which is superior to the old (see chapter 8). That covenant comes with the promised eternal inheritance, which was purchased by Jesusí death since it paid for our sins. His death has dealt with sins and purchased our eternal inheritance.

But why did He have to die? Look at verses 16-17. In order for a person to receive their inheritance, the person has to die that made the promise. Although this is not always the case and was not the case even in the authorís day, the point still makes sense: the inheritance only comes after death. Our promised inheritance under the new covenant was established through the death of Jesus. His death brought about our forgiveness of sins and purchased our inheritance.

The same was true under the old covenant as well. Look at verses 18-21. When the first covenant was being established, God instructed Moses to purify everything with blood, which symbolized the sacrifice of the animals to atone for sin. So Moses sprinkled blood over everything for its purification. Such an act seems very strange to us. Why sprinkle blood on everything? The Lord was teaching His people and us that a price must be paid for sins. If anything is to be pure a payment must be made, a sacrifice of life must be given. In this we see the gravity of manís sin. Our sin is so ugly and so rebellious, it can only be forgiven through sacrifice, through the shedding of blood. The author draws this conclusion in verse 22. Look at that with me. Notice how strong this statement is: without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins. The sacrificial system pointed to this truth with the constant shedding of the blood of bulls and goats. But the author has already told us that a greater sacrifice was needed. If our sins are going to be forgiven, then a life must be given, a sacrifice must be made. If we are going to have any chance at dealing with death, then blood must be shed. Where can we find such a sacrifice?

The death of Jesus for the forgiveness of sins (v. 23-28)

The author has established that death and the shedding of blood is necessary for the forgiveness of sins. Now he once again shows us how Jesusí death is everything that we need. Look at verse 23. The old covenant involved shadows and copies. But Christís sacrifice is superior. As he has done before (see 9:11-14), he talks about Jesusí death under three headings: the location, the offering, and the purpose/result. Letís consider these.

The location of Jesusí death was not in the tent made by hands but in the true tent (8:2). He notes that again in verse 24. Look at that with me. Christ did not enter into a place built with human hands, the tabernacle or temple, where Godís presence symbolically dwelt with His people. Jesus serves in the very presence of God. He does not serve at a copy but at the real thing. Of course, we know that Jesus died on earth at Golgatha, but the author is simply noting that Jesus did not need a tent made with hands because His sacrifice was before the very face of God. The location of His sacrifice is far superior to those under the old covenant.

And what did Jesus offer as His sacrifice? He offered Himself, once for all. Look at verses 25-26. Unlike the former high priests, Jesus did not need to make His sacrifice repeatedly. If that were necessary then He would have been offering sacrifices since the fall of man. Rather, the offering that He made is once for all. It covers past, present, and future sins. The saints of old were saved by His offering and anyone who turns from their sins and trusts in Jesus now is saved by His offering. So what is it that He offered that could atone for the sins once for all? Jesus put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. Just a few simple words that summarize the amazing good news of our redemption. Jesus has saved us by sacrificing Himself. His death on the cross was enough to pay for our sins. It was and is once for all. The Father declared this when He raised Jesus from the dead and seated Him at His right hand. The offering that Jesus made is far superior to any offerings under the old covenant, for He offered Himself in our place.

And what results from Jesusí sacrifice of Himself for our sins? Look at verses 27-28. People often ask the question: ĎWhat happens when you die?í Although many answers have been given, they can basically be summed up under three categories: good things, bad things, nothing. Some believe that nothing will happen when we die. We will just cease to exist. Thus, you better make the best of life that you can because this is all we have. Others think that only good things will happen when we die. We will all go to a better place or a better life. Our stories, our movies and television shows, normally take this point of view. Death is sad and hard, but it leads to better things. But the Bible provides the true answer to what happens after we die: judgment. Not only will every person die, but every person will face judgment. Every person will be held accountable for their lives.

The promise of future judgment is what makes the good news so good. If left to ourselves we have no hope for the Day of judgment. I cannot deny my sins. I cannot act like Iím a good enough person. I cannot pretend like my sins are no big deal. Oh, but I can have hope in Christ! I can take hope in the fact that Jesus came the first time to put away sin. I will stand on judgment Day clothed in His righteousness. I need not fear death or judgment because Jesus had dealt with both of them on my behalf! Through faith in Christ I am now numbered among those who are eagerly waiting for him, who will come a second time not to deal with sins since he has already done that, but to save His people.

So let me ask you: have you dealt with death by turning from your sins and trusting in Jesusí death and resurrection? Death is hunting you because it is hunting us all. It is appointed for you to die at some point. And after you die you will face judgment. Are you prepared for that? What do you think will happen to you when you die? If you have not turned from your sins and placed your faith in Jesus, then I plead with you to do so today. You cannot deal with death apart from faith in Christ. You cannot be ready for judgment apart from faith in Him. So believe in Him today. Leave your sins and trust in the Savior who offered the perfect sacrifice, namely Himself. If you are a follower of Christ, then I encourage you let the truths of this passage drive out your fear and doubt. I pray that such a passage will give me courage on my deathbed. And I pray that it will give me courage to tell others about the good news that is found in Christ. Death is a sobering reality for us all. And the good news of Jesus is the only real answer we have for that universal problem. So may we point people to a text like this that we might ultimately point them to the good news that we have in Christ. Amen.

~ William Marshall ~

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 27 December 2016 )

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