Hebrews 10:11 And every priest stands day after day at his service, offering again and again the same sacrifices that can never take away sins. 12 But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins… 14 For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.
The writer here is referring to the priests of the Old Testament days who attended the sacrifices of God’s people at the temple of God. The people brought sacrifices for the forgiveness of their sins, but sin itself was never abolished. There were not enough animals in the world to compensate for the sins of a hard-hearted people. And so, in this way, the original covenant between God and people (a covenant of laws and sacrifices) did not accomplish God’s ultimate desire – a people freed from sin and the need for making sacrifices in the first place.
In the old Lutheran Book of Worship there is a corporate confession that says, “We confess that we are in bondage to sin and cannot free ourselves.” These words acknowledge the fact that we will never be set free from sin and death – by merely trying harder to get our act together. This is not to say we shouldn’t put effort into living a life pleasing to God. We should. But that effort alone will never get us where God wants us to be – in intimage relationship with our heavenly Father.
So God took matters into his own hands creating a “new covenant” in Christ Jesus. In the Lutheran liturgy of holy communion we repeat the words of Jesus who said, “This is the new covenant in my blood, shed for you and for all people for the forgiveness of sins.” (Luke 22:20) Rather than continuing a never-ending cycle of sin-sacrifice-forgiveness-more sin, Jesus did two very important things:
- Jesus offered himself as the ultimate sacrifice once and for all. As the son of God, a perfect and infinitely valuable sacrifice, once his life was given no other was necessary.
Jesus sacrificing his own life on the cross was like paying $100 trillion into a penny gum machine. Paid. In Full. Forever.
2. Jesus then sent the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity, to live WITHIN us and empower us to FINALLY overcome sin and death that had dogged humanity from the beginning. Through the Holy Spirit, the Lord does IN US what we could not do for ourselves.
Jesus, you are amazing. Thank you for the cross. Thank you for giving us victory over sin and death. Forever. Amen.