Christ’s sacrifice once for all
1 The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming – not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship. 2 Otherwise, would they not have stopped being offered? For the worshippers would have been cleansed once for all, and would no longer have felt guilty for their sins. 3 But those sacrifices are an annual reminder of sins. 4 It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.
5 Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said:
‘Sacrifice and offering you did not desire,
but a body you prepared for me;
6 with burnt offerings and sin offerings
you were not pleased.
7 Then I said, “Here I am – it is written about me in the scroll –
I have come to do your will, my God.”’ [Psalm 40:6-8]
8 First he said, ‘Sacrifices and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not desire, nor were you pleased with them’– though they were offered in accordance with the law. 9 Then he said, ‘Here I am, I have come to do your will.’ He sets aside the first to establish the second. 10 And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
11 Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, 13 and since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool. 14 For by one sacrifice he has made perfect for ever those who are being made holy.
15 The Holy Spirit also testifies to us about this. First he says:
16 ‘This is the covenant I will make with them
after that time, says the Lord.
I will put my laws in their hearts,
and I will write them on their minds.’ [Jeremiah 31:33]
17 Then he adds:
‘Their sins and lawless acts
I will remember no more.‘ [Jeremiah 31:34]
18 And where these have been forgiven, sacrifice for sin is no longer necessary.
WE HAVE BEEN MADE HOLY
Imagine having to constantly try to prove your worth – constantly try to prove your worthiness – maybe even constantly try to prove your holiness. What burdensome life – yet much of the world lives that way.
The saints in the Old Testament knew their sins needed atoning for – they knew they needed to be made holy – so they followed the sacrificial system gifted to them by God. Yet that system was not an end in itself – it was a shadow, a sign pointing beyond itself. It was never a system that could actually atone for sins – ‘It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins’ (v. 4). It acted only as ‘an annual reminder of sins’ (v. 3). And so these sacrifices were offered constantly, but didn’t actually cleanse anyone of sin, or make them holy.
But the truth these things were pointing to was far more marvellous! God the Eternal Son would give himself for us – the blood of bulls and goats cannot cleanse anyone of sin – but the blood of Jesus can.
Jesus’ sacrifice was perfect – and because of that ‘we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all’ (v. 10) We need not strive for holiness, for worthiness – but simply cling to the Cross of Jesus – that is where we can rest. ‘For by one sacrifice he has made perfect for ever those who are being made holy’ (v. 14).
Question: Do you ever catch yourself striving to be seen as worthy before God? How does it make you feel that you can simply be made holy by being covered by the blood of Jesus?