This morning we are going to complete the second half of our message called “A Better Sacrifice”. In the first sermon of this pair, we focused our discussion on the potent blood of Jesus. When we refer to the blood of Christ, it reminds us of His sacrificial death on the cross. We learned that all covenants are established and validated by blood. We read that the blood of bulls and goats which was spilled on the altar during countless Old Testament offerings was unable to cleanse the conscience, but the blood of Jesus provides forgiveness of sins.
In today’s message, we are going to discuss the sufficiency of Jesus’ sacrifice. The word sufficient means adequate or enough. As we have done previously, we will again contrast the offerings of animals under the Old Covenant with the grueling crucifixion of Jesus which established the New Covenant. By making this comparison, we will see yet another reason why the Lord’s sacrifice was and is far superior.
For most of our married life, my wife and I (mostly her I’ll admit) have hand-washed our dishes. I find washing dishes to be quite therapeutic at times. Even now, we don’t have a dishwasher in our home. So almost every night, after supper is over, there is a sink full of plates, bowls, cups, and other such things that have built up over the course of the day that need to be washed. Our routine is to get them cleaned before settling in to relax for the evening. This is an activity that must be repeated daily, as the dishes never stay clean for long (especially with 3 kids in the house) and have to be rewashed again and again.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if there was a way to wash something one time so thoroughly and completely that it would never become dirty or defiled ever again? Could such a wondrous cleansing even be possible, and if it was, what would it pertain to? The answer to these questions is found in today’s message...
I. A CONSTANT REMINDER (v1-4)
The writer of Hebrews begins this portion of his letter by again reminding his audience that the sacrificial offerings made under the Law, which was the basis of the Old Covenant, were unable to “make perfect those who draw near”. This has been a major and often repeated theme of this book. Because of their inadequacy, they had to be repeated “continually year by year”. Had they been able to fully cleanse and purify the heart, these sacrifices would have ceased long ago. Instead, the worshiper’s “consciousness of sins” remained despite these sacrifices.
The numerous and ongoing animal sacrifices were a constant reminder of sin. Every time someone traveled to the tabernacle or temple to make an offering, they were again confronted with the persistent nature of their own sinfulness. The dirtiness and impurity that it caused might be dealt with temporarily, but it would soon return. This would require yet another future sojourn to the temple and another sacrifice the the LORD. This bleak and burdensome cycle seemed unbreakable, as it continuously highlighted the presence and accumulation of sin within a person’s life.
Even worse, despite their earnest sincerity, these tireless efforts to obediently follow the Law by repeatedly making such sacrifices were of no avail. “For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins”. The practice of animal sacrifice was merely “a shadow of the good things to come”. When it comes to the actual remission of sins, this entire exercise was a mission of futility.
II. THE LORD’S DISPLEASURE (v5-10)
Here the writer of Hebrews cites the words of David in Psalm 40:6-8. In this psalm David thanks and praises the Lord for hearing his cry and sustaining him through tribulation. Some scholars speculate that this psalm was written after David returned to the throne following Absalom’s rebellion. This citation, as it is used in Hebrews, concerns the work of Jesus Christ.
God the Father does not “take pleasure in” or “desire” burnt offerings or any other sacrifices for sins made or given under the Law. These are wholly unacceptable and inadequate to Him. The only sacrifice that pleases God is that of Christ’s own “body” which was given in accordance to the LORD’s divine “will”.
That which was first - the Law, the animal sacrifices, the Old Covenant, etc. - has been taken away in order to establish the second - God’s grace, the sacrifice of Jesus, the New Covenant, etc. By His death at Calvary, Jesus sanctified - that is to say, cleansed and set apart for Himself - all who would believe on His name. He rectified the Lord’s displeasure.
III. ONE SUFFICIENT OFFERING (v11-18)
Like a factory worker on an assembly line, who mindlessly repeats the same mundane task time and time again, so also the priests would offer the “same sacrifices” day after day - though they could “never take away sins.” In contrast, Jesus made a single and all-sufficient sacrifice. After doing so, He then ascended into Heaven where He now waits at God’s right hand until His enemies are vanquished under His feet.
“For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.” The Holy Spirit testifies to this very truth. This was foretold in Jeremiah 31:33-34 which is mentioned here and was previously cited back in chapter 8. Because the forgiveness affected by Christ on the cross is all encompassing, there is no need for repeated sacrifices under the New Covenant.
All of us take showers virtually every day. During our showers, we generally take a few minutes to wash our hair. Have you ever noticed the instructions on your shampoo bottle? Many of them say, “Lather, Rinse, Repeat”. Simple and easy to follow, right? While this repetition may recommended for cleaning your hair, thank God it isn’t necessary to cleanse repentant sinners from their sins. Jesus accomplished this once and for all time. Hallelujah!
Beloved, the sin issue has already been dealt with. Jesus has forever conquered sin and death. As He shouted from the cross, “It is finished!” There is no need for any additional sacrifice. The wrath of God has been fully appeased. The gift of forgiveness through Jesus Christ has been made available to everyone. Salvation is freely offered to any and all who will receive it. Those who come to Christ by faith are justified and rightly reconciled to the LORD.
Over the course of the past 3 chapters, the author of Hebrews has presented Jesus as our Perfect High Priest who entered into the heavenly sanctuary in order to offer Himself as an all-sufficient sacrifice for the sins of mankind. In so doing, He established a new and greater covenant which is built upon God’s amazing grace through faith in Christ. What a glorious thought! We are free from the rigorous demands and requirements of the Law. We are forever free from the bondage of sin.
But as they say, “With freedom comes responsibility.” In next week’s sermon we will consider a few of these responsibilities. Until then, may the never ending wonder of Jesus’ sacrifice fill your heart with joy and your mind with awe.