ONCE AND FOR ALL
Lord, thank You for offering Yourself for us.
Read HEBREWS 9:23–28
23 It was necessary, then, for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these sacrifices, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. 24 For Christ did not enter a sanctuary made with human hands that was only a copy of the true one; he entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God’s presence. 25 Nor did he enter heaven to offer himself again and again, the way the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood that is not his own. 26 Otherwise Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But he has appeared once for all at the culmination of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself. 27 Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, 28 so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.
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‘The reader with a disturbed conscience is likely to find more help in Hebrews than almost anywhere in scripture.’ (Raymond Brown, Christ Above All, IVP, p154) Why should this be so?
I am reminded of the call to see Jesus (2:9); to consider Jesus (3:1); and to look and continue to look to Jesus (12:2), who is the same yesterday, today, and forever (13:8). He is greater than angels; greater than Melchizedek, Abraham, Moses, Joshua, and David; the guarantor of a better covenant (ch 7); and, in today’s passage, He is offering a superior sacrifice in a greater sanctuary.
Consider the phrase ‘once’ or ‘once for all’, which is used seven times in the New Testament with reference to what Christ has done for us (Rom 6:10; Heb 7:27; 9:12,26,28; 10:10; 1 Pet 3:18). These verses expound, in effect, the meaning of Jesus’ triumphant cry on the cross, ‘Done! Finished!’ The finished work of Christ means that He has done everything necessary to accomplish the salvation of those who trust in Him. No one can take away from what He has done; and no one can add to it. The saints of the church triumphant worship the Lamb upon the throne, ‘looking as if it had been slain’ (Rev 5:6). This explains the extraordinary words in Charles Wesley’s hymn: ‘with what rapture / gaze we on those glorious scars’ (‘Lo, He comes’, 1758). Offer your own rapturous gratitude in whatever form seems most appropriate.
I conclude today’s explorations by noting the three occurrences of the verb ‘appear’ in this passage: Christ once appeared (26); He is currently appearing for us in God’s presence (24); and one day He will appear again (28), not to whisk us away to some immaterial sky-heaven, but to inaugurate the new heaven and new earth (Rev 21) in which righteousness dwells and thus triumphantly to complete what He has already finished!
The resurrection confirmed the effectiveness of Christ’s work on earth. How much more can we be confident that Christ will bring us safely to our bodily resurrection and life everlasting!
Lord, we believe that Your perfect sacrifice on the cross of Calvary provides everything we need to enter into heaven.