Passion Sunday, April 10, 2011

Hebrews 9:11-15

Today’s Epistle reading is intended to teach us the remedy for sin. The Bible tells us mankind is stained with sin. Romans 3:23 tells us “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”. And that creates a problem for us because Habakkuk 1:13 tells us God’s “eyes are too pure to look on evil; (He) cannot tolerate wrong….”

But the Bible also tells us: God loved mankind so much that He offered a way to “wash away” sins.

It is through blood! Did you know that there are 440 verses in the Bible that contain the word blood?

Some of those verses are very familiar to us: in the OT it often speaks of the “The Blood of the Sacrifice” and “The Blood of the bullock” and “The Blood Lambs”. In the NT it mentions “The Blood of the New Covenant” and “The Blood of Salvation”. The significance is that there is a difference between the shedding of blood in the Old Covenant and the shedding of blood in the New Covenant.

In Old Testament times there was a tabernacle where blood sacrifices happened all the time. Under the Old Covenant, in order for a blood sacrifice to be given to God something had to die.

God wanted his people to know HOW TERRIBLE their sins were, so every time they sinned, they were required to offer up a blood sacrifice. Every day people lined up at the Temple gates with their sacrifices to be offered in the tabernacle for things they had done wrong. Day, after day, after day sacrifices were offered up to God. And these sacrifices cost the life and the blood of an innocent animal - to pay for THEIR SINS.

Blood sacrifices were designed by God for two reasons.

First, life is in the blood! Leviticus 17:11 says, “For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life.”

Second, blood indicated that a price had been paid. A price had to be paid for sin, and life giving blood was the most costly price that could be paid. However, the only link the animals had to the sins of those who offered them was that the animals were owned by the sinner. There was nothing inherently powerful in the blood of the animals that would offer true forgiveness to sinners. That’s why Hebrews 10:4 tells us “… it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.” Their blood couldn’t forgive anybody.

But God used their blood (the blood of animals) to help people realize that there would come an Ultimate Blood Sacrifice that WOULD remove all sins, and that ultimate blood sacrifice was to be The Blood of Jesus.

The author of Hebrews shows us that the New Covenant is SUPERIOR to the Old. Verses 11 and 12 explain why: “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; 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.”

In these verses we find that the Blood of Jesus is what purifies us. Why is it important that it was Jesus’ blood? It was important because all our sins are committed against God. Only the Blood of God can cleanse away our sins, because in every sin we commit, it is God that we have offended. Unlike the blood of bulls and goats that had nothing to do with the sins of the sinner, the Blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us because He has the power to forgive us – He is our great high priest.

In other words, the Blood of Jesus attains for us, Eternal Redemption. The sacrificing of the blood of goats and calves attained only a temporary reprieve from the wages of sin and constantly had to be repeated. The Blood of Christ gives us eternal redemption, and the sacrifice He made on the cross NEVER needs to be repeated.

1 Peter 1:18-20 says, “Knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you who through Him believe in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that our faith and hope are in God."

Another difference between the Old and New Covenant blood shedding is that the blood of Christ purifies our consciences. The blood of the Old Covenant was offered to purify the flesh, that is, it was external.

Those sacrifices could not cleanse the conscience. The Blood of Christ cleans, purifies the guilty conscience. There is nothing worse than a guilty conscience that often torments a believer. I’ve heard people say that we Christians need to rid ourselves of our guilt complex. Well that because today many people no longer have guilt feelings about anything. As a result they commit all kinds of horrible acts, murder, rape, robbery, etc. They have no feelings of guilt.

The fact is, guilt can be a blessing when it drives us to the cross, to the Savior who died on a cross, who cleanses our conscience by His own blood that He shed for us on that cross. Guilt becomes an issue only when we refuse to bring our guilt and our sins to Jesus. In addition, the blood of the old covenant could not cleanse from every sin.

But under the New Covenant 1 John. 1:7-9 says, “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from ALL SIN. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Only the Blood of Christ can purchase our eternal redemption and purify our conscience.

There is Redemption in the Blood of the Lamb
There is Salvation in the Blood of the Lamb
There is Forgiveness in the Blood of the Lamb
There is Deliverance in the Blood of the Lamb
There is Healing in the Blood of the Lamb
There is Joy in the Blood of the Lamb
There is Eternal Life in the Blood of the Lamb.

It is the blood of Jesus that gives the Resurrection its power. That’s why in baptism we’re told: “…don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.

If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin—because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.” Romans 6:3-7

These verses mean that for our salvation to be complete, we need to take part in Jesus’ death - we need to come in contact with His blood. THEN, having been touched by His blood by being buried with Jesus through baptism, we can share in His Resurrection.

So you see Brethren, it is only at the Cross that our sins are removed, cleansed, purified.

Jesus laid upon the altar of God and gave His own life as an offering unto God for your sins and mine.

And Jesus allows us to share in His Sacrifice each time we receive His Body and Blood at Holy Communion.

That is why before you come to the altar I recite the words of John the Baptist when he first saw Jesus, “Behold the Lamb of God, behold Him who takest away the Sins of the world.”

And it is why we all respond, “Lord I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof, but speak the word only and my soul shall be healed.”

Jesus Christ is our Salvation and it by His Blood that we are saved.

Last updated - June 24, 2011.