Lord, what You do, You do correctly.
Read HEBREWS 9:11–22
The Blood of Christ
11 But when Christ came as high priest of the good things that are now already here,[a] he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not made with human hands, that is to say, is not a part of this creation. 12 He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, thus obtaining[b] eternal redemption. 13 The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. 14 How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death,[c] so that we may serve the living God!
15 For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance—now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.
16 In the case of a will,[d] it is necessary to prove the death of the one who made it, 17 because a will is in force only when somebody has died; it never takes effect while the one who made it is living. 18 This is why even the first covenant was not put into effect without blood. 19 When Moses had proclaimed every command of the law to all the people, he took the blood of calves, together with water, scarlet wool and branches of hyssop, and sprinkled the scroll and all the people. 20 He said, “This is the blood of the covenant, which God has commanded you to keep.”[e] 21 In the same way, he sprinkled with the blood both the tabernacle and everything used in its ceremonies. 22 In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.
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‘Lord, I believe Thou hast prepared / (unworthy though I be) / for me a blood-bought free reward, / A golden harp for me.’ (W Cowper, ‘There is a fountain’; See Works of John Newton, 1830, p551).
I savor the phrases ‘eternal redemption’ (12), ‘eternal Spirit’ (14), ‘eternal inheritance’ (15) – turning them over and over in my heart. What the Old Testament (or old covenant) system could not achieve has been achieved through the shedding of Jesus’ own blood.
Contemplate the word ‘blood’, which occurs more times in Hebrews (21 times; 12 times in chapter 9) than in any other book of the New Testament. In Hebrews it is used 11 times of the blood of animals and seven times of the blood of Jesus Christ. All the original readers and listeners to this letter would have known the reference to the world of sacrifice, familiar everywhere in the ancient world. Leviticus 17:11 informed the Israelites that the blood of sacrificed animals is given to make ‘atonement for one’s life’. The same image is used in Ephesians 5:2: ‘Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God’.
Let’s reflect on four clues in today’s reading which articulate the bottomless meaning of Christ’s sacrifice: The words ‘redemption’ and ‘ransom’ refer to being set free by the payment of a price; the word ‘mediator’ belongs to the world of reconciliation; the beneficiary of a will does not enter into the inheritance until the testator has died; but the most prominent image in this passage is of cleansing. ‘His blood can make the foulest clean; / his blood availed for me.’ (C Wesley, ‘O for a thousand’) Other passages in the New Testament repeat this imagery (eg., 1 John 1:7; Rev 7:14). Some modern people find this image revolting: ‘Blood’, they say, ‘is something you wash off, not wash in!’ However, we have within our own bodies an analogy: our amazing blood system incessantly carries off the body’s toxins to the kidneys and hence to waste. Without this cleansing work we would quickly be in agonizing pain and then die.
‘O happy day … When Jesus washed my sins away!’ (P Doddridge) With these words, or others, I gratefully worship my Savior.
Lord, thank You for entering the Holy Place with Your own blood, the payment for our liberation from sin and death.