I am amazed that the scandal of the cross and the beauty of Christ can, after two millennia, remain so widely unheard. With so many Christian churches in our land, one would imagine that news so wonderful would have gotten out and spread like fire in men’s hearts. You would think news this wonderful would just have to be shared.
And yet the revelation of a God who loves liberally, lavishes grace on the unworthy, and calls the lowly His friends, is barely audible, though so plainly written, having been drowned out by the constant clamor religious activity. I guess in some ways it’s too wonderful for us who have been jaded by what’s too good to be true.
We Know The Problem
Hebrews 10:11 (NAS): 11 Every priest stands daily ministering and offering time after time the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins;
The problem is that we are intimately acquainted with our own sin and even more, with the sins of others. Even after our very best efforts, in our moments of sobriety, the reality of our wretchedness floods our heart and mind and brings guilt. The same guilt that causes us to doubt Christ’s sufficiency and return to the performance wheel. We simply must offer God better.
This is similar to the doubt that caused the Hebrews to return to the performance demands of the law. Their’s was a doubt arising from persecution which they associated with sin. The Hebrew writer wonderfully illustrates the never ending demands of the law. The priest must stand daily and offer the same sacrifices that covers temporally, but can never take away sin. In the same way, our best performance has benefit, but can never take away sin. And thus the bear must keep dancing.
One Decisive Act
Hebrews 10:12 (NAS): 12 but He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, sat down at the right hand of God,
The Hebrew writer brilliantly contrasts the perpetual efforts of the Priest with the one decisive act of the Christ. What the priest could not do with many daily offerings, Jesus did with one; one sacrifice that one would be sufficient for all time. How utterly boundless in grace is that? How good is that news?
I can sense the rising fear of many who would want to pump the brakes on such libertine thoughts. “You will encourage sin,” they will say. “You can’t just do nothing. We must fight against sin,” they’ll insist. But an act this decisive demands we cease striving against sin and rest in His work. This grace does not encourage sin and we will not “do nothing.” No, this work will inspire worship; worship for the glory of His grace.
His Own Confidence
Hebrews 10:13 (NAS): 13 waiting from that time onward until His enemies be made a footstool for His feet.
The contrast between the sitting and waiting Savior and the daily standing priest is striking. Jesus is so ultimately confident in His own work that He himself ceases from striving. He sits and patiently waits, while the priest stands daily offering and ministering. He has been sitting and waiting from that time onward. His victory is sure, and he is sure, so he waits. He is sure of His victory He has accomplished for us.
Jesus is so supremely confident in the one sacrifice for the sins of those who believe, that He sat down at the right hand of the One whose wrath we fear most for our sin. It is that fear of the Father’s wrath that gets us up and on the performance wheel to please Him. Yet Jesus, fully assured that our sins have been taken away, takes a seat next to Him. He sits in the place of honor; the Father’s right hand.
For All Time
Hebrews 10:14 (NAS): 14 For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.
It is doubtful that the Hebrew writer means we have been perfected is the same sense that we typically think of perfection. We are clearly not perfect people, though the passage does say we have been perfected. The significance of our perfection, however, not in the sense of the word, but in the sphere in which it is applied. Jesus’s one offering has perfected us for the one purpose for which the offering is made; to satisfy the wrath of God for the sins we have committed and to make us fully acceptable and pleasing to Him. In that we are complete. The wrath of God for us is completely satisfied. We are completely acceptable to God and thus we are, for all time. Hear those amazing words again. We are perfected, for all time.
Because of this good news, this Gospel, we can cease striving. We can get off the performance wheel. We do not have to rise daily to meet the endless demands of the law. We do not have to be perfect, because we have been perfected. We can find rest for our souls. We can live in contentment and peace with our Father, knowing well that He is not angry with us and means us no harm. For we have been seated with Him in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.”