The Ultimate Sacrifice

  • Text: Hebrews 9:22-28
  • Series: Christ in the New Covenant, Pt. 10
  • Date: Sunday, July 15, 2018 – AM
  • Venue: Trinity Baptist Church – Seminole, Oklahoma
  • Speaker: Jared Byrns
  • Audio: mp3

We call somebody a Renaissance man because he’s well versed in a lot of subjects and can fill a lot of roles. My grandfather was a Renaissance man: at various times, he was a First Sergeant in the US Army, he drove a bread truck after the war, he sold airplane parts, he was a sheriff’s deputy, and he managed the service department of a large Ford dealership. He knew about guns; he made arts and crafts; he rebuilt engines; he baked some of the most diabetes-inducing pecan pies in history. He filled all those roles and more—he was a Renaissance man. That term makes me think of Leonardo da Vinci. He knew about painting, architecture, anatomy, engineering, music, aviation—you name it. In some of his works, he was both the artist and the subject on the canvas.

When it comes to our salvation under the new covenant, Jesus is the ultimate Renaissance man. There’s no part of our salvation where He’s not involved. We see that throughout the book of Hebrews as it describes the roles that He plays in the new covenant. As we saw two weeks ago, He’s the priest who offers the sacrifice for our sins. This week, we’ll see how He’s also the sacrifice that was offered. He’s involved in every aspect of salvation. Turn with me to Hebrews chapter 9. This morning we’re going to look at Hebrews 9:22-28 and explore His role as the ultimate sacrifice for sin. It says:

And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission. It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us: Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others; For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.

Verse 22 says, “And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.” It says that blood purged almost all things in the old covenant because some ceremonial practices involved cleansing by water or by fire. But when it came to sin, it had to be blood. It says here that unless blood is shed, there’s no remission of sins. What’s so special about blood? Blood represents life. Leviticus 17:11 says, “The life of the flesh is in the blood.” If you lose your blood, you’ll die. That’s what this verse is describing. It’s not just spilling a little bit of blood, like when a nurse pricks your finger and squeezes out a few drops. That’s not going to do it. The Greek word here for shedding blood is describing blood spilling or flowing out. When sin is committed, there’s a penalty, and Romans 6:23 says, “The wages of sin is death.”

You and I sin, and someone had to die to pay for it. We could pay with our lives, but we’d still be sinners; we’d still be separated from God. We’d be like someone who commits a felony and spends years in prison. He’d pay for his crime, but the law would still call him a felon. His payment wouldn’t erase his guilt for that particular act. Someone has to die for our sins, but our blood would never be enough to erase our guilt and make us right with God. Not just any sacrifice will work.

The writer of Hebrews spent a lot of time discussing how not just any sacrifice will work. The blood of bulls and goats couldn’t bring mankind lasting peace with God, so we needed a better sacrifice. Look at verse 23; it says, “It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.” The verse starts out with “it was therefore necessary.” The “it” was the shedding of blood—sacrifices were necessary. But this verse describes the entire sacrificial system of the old covenant as patterns—they were merely temporary reflections of God’s eternal plans. The Law, the priesthood, the Tabernacle, the Temple: they were just old covenant reflections of a new covenant reality. They were there to prepare the way for Jesus. Even these patterns—these reflections—had to be purified with sacrifice. And if a sacrifice was needed in this old covenant system, then an even better sacrifice was necessary for the new covenant that it reflected.

God always had something better in mind than these temporary measures, and Jesus came as that better sacrifice. We can tell from the amount of time that he spent writing about it how important it was to the writer of Hebrews that people understand that Jesus was the fulfillment of God’s plans. As I discussed briefly last Sunday night, there were false teachers in that day who were trying to convince the early Christians that they needed to keep the old covenant before Jesus could save them. According to them, you needed the bulls and goats, priests, circumcision, rituals, and all the other trappings of the old covenant for Jesus to save you. But the Bible, including the book of Hebrews, flatly rejects that view because all of those elements of the old covenant pointed to Jesus—Who is the better way and Who accomplished what they couldn’t. Even today, some false teachers will tell you that you have to follow their religious system or list of rules for Jesus to save you. Don’t you believe them! It doesn’t matter if they bring that message to your doorstep or through your television; it’s untrue, and it’s an insult to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Jesus made a better sacrifice and a lasting one.

Everything about His sacrifice was better than the old covenant sacrifices. Look at verse 24. It says, “For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us.” He offered something better than bulls and goats—He offered Himself. But even the wayHe made peace with God for us was better. He didn’t go into a man-made Temple that merely represents the presence of God, make His offering, and wait for God to show up. No, Hebrews says that He went right into the presence of God.

He’s not just an ordinary man; He’s the Son of God. He is the eternal God, the Second Person in the Trinity ensconced in human flesh. So He was able to do what no one else could do; He made His offering, He offered Himself, and then He went into the very presence of His Father to intercede for us. I talked to you about this intercession two weeks ago when I spoke to you about Jesus being our ultimate Priest. He is right now in the presence of the Father interceding for us. That means He’s advocating for us. He’s pleading for the Father’s favor for us.

I think those last two words of verse 24 are very important: “for us.” Everything Jesus did, He did for us. Jesus is for us. Some of you in here may be close to giving up on your faith. Some of you may be close to giving up on your relationship with God. Because you’ve tried to follow all the rules, you’ve tried to do everything you know how to do, and yet feels like God is distant and never listening. Let me encourage you this morning, don’t give up; Jesus is for you. He died for you. He made peace with the Father for you. He can establish that relationship with the Father for you. He is ready to intercede with the Father for you. God the Son is for you, and Romans 8:31 says, “If God be for us, who can be against us?” He’s not only the ultimate offering, but He’s your ultimate Advocate if you’ll simply trust Him and receive by faith the gift of salvation that He offers.

Now, look at verse 25. It says, “Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others.” Here, the writer of Hebrews pointed to another way that Jesus’ sacrifice was better. He only had to offer Himself once. His offering was sufficient, and it did the trick for all time.

Some of you have heard me talk about my liquid weed eater. I hate weed eating; I’d rather have dental work done then edge my house, my driveway, and my chain-link fence, and spend all that time having to fix the line because it always fuses together. My answer is to spray everything with Round-Up. It kills everything. Now I can zip around on my riding lawnmower, and then I’m done. I even started spraying the grass under the kids’ swing set so I don’t have to move it. I love my liquid weed eater, but there’s a problem with it. Nothing stays edged. I have to spray every couple of weeks to keep it under control. Now, I see stuff online that farmers use on their fences, and it stays clear all season long. You don’t have to spray every couple of weeks; once is enough. The same principle applies to Jesus’s sacrifice. The blood of bulls and goats that the high priest would carry into the Temple was okay for a little while, but the sacrifice had to be redone many times over. Then Jesus came along and offered the sacrifice of His own blood, which was all-sufficient because it was the blood of the Son of God; and that sacrifice was so good and worked so well that it only needed to be done once.

Some churches will tell you that He has to be offered over and over to keep us in God’s good graces. For example, the Catechism of the Catholic Church says, in section 1367, “In the Mass, the same Christ who offered himself once in a bloody manner on the altar of the cross is contained and is offered in an unbloody manner.”[1]So, according to that teaching, He’s being offered daily. But verse 26 says that idea doesn’t work.

It says, “For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.” Tying that back to verse 25, which says He didn’t need to make multiple offerings, this means that if even a second offering were needed, then infinite offerings would be needed. If one offering hadn’t been enough to cover all of those who believed, both before and after His time, then Jesus would have needed to start offering Himself from the earliest days of humanity just to cover everyone. But the writer of Hebrews thought this was a ridiculous idea and insisted that Jesus only needed to offer Himself once.

This verse covers all of human history. All the people who’ve ever lived and every sin they’ve ever committed, from the foundation of the world to the end of the world—Jesus’ one sacrifice on the cross was enough to cover all of it.

He sacrificed Himself, and through that sacrifice, He put away all of our sins. A few weeks ago, I told you about the scapegoat in the old covenant sacrificial system. The high priest would take two goats to the Temple or the Tabernacle to offer them for the sins of the people. One, he would sacrifice and sprinkle its blood on the mercy seat as a symbolic covering for the people’s sins to shield them from the wrath of God. The other goat would be the scapegoat. The priest would lay his hands on the goat and confess the sins of the people over it. By doing this, the people’s guilt was ceremonially placed on the scapegoat, which was then released into the wilderness to carry the guilt of their sins far away. By offering Himself for us, Jesus took on the guilt of our sin and was punished for it; we’re cleansed by His blood, and He has taken away our guilt like the scapegoat. That’s what the Bible means that He has “put away sin by the sacrifice of himself:” our sin and guilt are gone.

Then, verse 27 tells us, “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.” The Bible doesn’t recognize any type of reincarnation; it says we do all of this once. We die once, and then we’re judged. I hear some Christians talk about karma. They see someone do something mean and they’ll say something like, ‘Watch out! Karma will get you.’ That word doesn’t mean what people think it means. Folks, karma is the idea that your account of deeds follows you through cycles of birth and rebirth until you do enough good to overcome the bad and be absorbed into God. Christianity doesn’t teach karma. I think what people mean is that we reap what we sow. That’s Biblical. Galatians 6:7 says, “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” God’s Word doesn’t teach that we have dozens or more lives to work off our sins and make ourselves acceptable to Him. We have one life, and because we use that life to sow sin, we die once and reap the consequences of sin according to God’s judgment.

Ultimately, we’ll all die and face God’s judgment. That judgment is what should concern us. After all, Hebrews 10:31 says, “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” I can’t imagine anything more frightening than having to stand before an absolutely holy God and answer for every sin I’ve ever committed. I have no basis for asking Him to forgive me or to save me if I come bearing my multitude of sins.

Fortunately, you and I have a choice here. Either we can come bearing our own sins into the final judgment or Jesus can take them, bear them on our behalf, pay for them, and clothe us in His righteousness.

That’s what verse 28 is talking about; it says, “So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.” We need to take these two verses together, verses 27 and 28. When we do, they’re telling us that because of our sin we are destined to die once and face God’s judgment; but Jesus Christ died once to bear the sins of many so that we could stand righteous and redeemed in Him on the day of judgment. His death one time was enough, not just for a few people, but for many. Now, why does it say many and not all?

The Bible does teach that He died for all. Because of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, forgiveness is available to all people. But not everyone will be saved. In Matthew 7:14, Jesus said, “Strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” Jesus died to extend the offer of salvation to everyone, but we don’t have that salvation unless we receive it by faith. That means acknowledging that we’re sinners who need salvation, believing that we can only get that salvation from Jesus because of what He did on the cross for us, and asking Him to forgive us and save us as only He can. And one day, He’ll “appear the second time without sin unto salvation” to those who trust in Him for salvation because of what He did on the cross. One day, we’ll see Him in all of His sinless glory and join Him because He’s put away our sins and prepared a place for us. He told us in John 14:3, “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.”

Now the point this morning is that Jesus has made salvation available to all of us because He was the ultimate sacrifice. He was the only offering that was acceptable to God. He was the only offering that could give us lasting peace with the Father. He was the only offering that could cover all of our sins. He was the only offering that could cover man for all time. The book of Hebrews emphasizes that He’s better than the blood of a bull or a goat could ever be, because when he offered Himself, He accomplished what all these other sacrifices never could.

Now, sometimes people wonder how it’s possible that He could pay for our sins—how it’s possible that this would even work to give us peace with God. Most religions and philosophies not only don’t believe that Jesus was able to accomplish that, but they believe that one person paying for another person’s sins is impossible from the start. Maybe someone in here this morning is thinking that way. You could be thinking that it doesn’t make sense that somebody else could pay for your sins. You could be thinking that surely God wants you to contribute something to the process. After all, they’re your sins, so why should you walk away free while somebody else pays? You could even be thinking that you have so much sin that there’s no way Jesus’ sacrifice could ever bring you forgiveness.

As I said already, those are fairly common views. Studying how the religions of the world view Jesus differently, I’ve come to realize that most of the religious systems in the world have some respect for Jesus as a teacher, but they ridicule the idea that He could pay for anyone’s sins. As one example, the Hindu writer and teacher David Frawley wrote, “There is no salvation or liberation by proxy. Neither Jesus nor any other figure can save you or realize the truth for you.”[2]

This issue illustrates perhaps the greatest gap between Christianity and all other belief systems: either Jesus is the ultimate sacrifice for all sin, or He isn’t. On this issue, we could make a huge chart with two columns. In the first column, we could list all the religions that say there’s still work for you to do to get where you need to be, and it would be a long list.

Islam says your good deeds have to outweigh your bad deeds, and then you have to hope that Allah will be merciful and tip the scales in your favor. Judaism says you have to obey the Old Testament Law. Hinduism says you have to live the right kind of life to store up good karma against your bad and bring the cycle of reincarnation to an end. Buddhism says you have to discipline yourself to let go of your inner desires and achieve enlightenment. Mormonism says that Jesus died to pay for Adam’s sin, and you have to deal with your own. The Jehovah’s Witnesses teach that Jesus died to show how you could be obedient enough to be welcomed into the kingdom. The New Age movement says that everyone is on an individual path and it’s up to you to find your own way.

All the world’s faiths say it’s up to you—except one. In the second column, Christianity stands alone under the heading, “Jesus paid it all.” I’ve heard it explained this way: all the other religions of the world say, ‘Do.’ Only Christianity says, ‘Done.’

Just as these other faiths think it’s ridiculous to believe that someone else could take care of your sins for you, the Bible sees it as ridiculous to believe that you could take care of your own. It’s an area where we’re just never going to agree. So, for me, it comes down to this question: Who do you trust more?

We’re talking about where you end up in eternity, whether in Heaven or Hell. We’re talking about whether you end up having peace with God or remaining alienated from Him. We’re talking about finding the narrow road that leads to eternal life or the broad path that leads to damnation. These are crucial issues. If the Bible is correct, as I believe it is, when it says, “it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment,” then we only have one chance to get it right.

So, who do you trust more? Yourself or Jesus? Who’s better equipped to deal with your sins and bring you peace with God: you or Jesus? I’d submit to you, that if you doubt the ability of the Son of God to make a once-for-all offering to pay for your sin, then you could hardly do better yourself.

But the Bible teaches that He did make that once-for-all offering to pay for your sin. He had no sin of His own, so all the suffering He endured on the cross was for you. He was nailed to the cross, where He shed His blood and died to pay for your sins in full. He only needed to offer Himself as that perfect blood sacrifice one time, and He covered all your sin: past, present, and future. He rose from the dead three days later to prove that His claims were true and His sacrifice was sufficient. And He ascended to the right hand of the Father in Heaven, where He intercedes for you until the day when He welcomes you into the presence of God.

If you’ve never trusted Jesus Christ as your one and only Savior, I’d ask you today who you trust more to deal with your sin and bring you peace with God: yourself or Jesus? He made the perfect offering, the ultimate sacrifice for your sins. And He’s ready to forgive your sin, give you peace with God, bring you into God’s family, and offer you eternal life if you’ll stop trusting in your own ability to deal with your sin and trust Him instead. This morning, if you believe that He’s the only One Who can save you from your sins, and if you believe in your heart that He died for your sins and rose again, you can be saved. Talk to God today, admit your sin and need for a Savior, and ask Him to save you and forgive you, in Jesus’ name.

[1]“Catechism of the Catholic Church,” Sec. 1367, Libreria Editrice Vaticana, accessed 9 July 2018, http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG0015/__P41.HTM.

[2]David Frawley, “Hindu View of Christian Salvation,” Hindu Post, 27 March 2016, accessed 21 February 2018, https://www.hindupost.in/society-culture/hindu-view-of-christian-salvation/.

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© 2018, Jared Byrns. All rights reserved.