(with Roger Kirby) Part 25 - Hebrews 10:11–18 Jesus sat down We are holy!
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. But when this priest, Jesus, had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, and since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool. For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.
The Holy Spirit also testifies to us about this. First he says: “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.”
Then he adds: “Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.” And where these have been forgiven, sacrifice for sin is no longer necessary.
Our writer likes to make sure we have heard and understood what he has said. So he repeats himself. Here he repeatstwo things in particular he has already said: that Jesus sat down and that the covenant had been renewed in its new form.
These days a great many people sit down to work and only stand up when it is finished. It was the other way round for them. Nearly everybody stood up most of the time when they were working. It was only at the end of the day, when the work was done, that they were able to sit down. Jesus sat down at the right hand of God - the place of privilege - because his work was done and would never need to be done again 10:12. Unlike the previous sacrifices carried out in the temple every day his sacrifice was complete, perfect, finished. The sacrifices of animals had been but small tokens of the repentance of the person sacrificing and the forgiveness received from God in response to that repentance. The sacrifice of Jesus, the very Son of God himself, had been so far more effective than those it would never need to be repeated. In fact, how could it possibly be repeated? Any further sacrifice could only be the tiniest reflection of what Jesus had accomplished, not really worth the bother!
The sign of the new covenant, the new way in which God was choosing to deal with people, was not to be a sacrifice but a memorial of that one great sacrifice. The sacrifice could not be repeated; only our memory of it could be, and should be, repeated. So Luke says: “he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood. (Luke 22:19-20).
Sadly it is not always the case that this is how our memory of him is presented. If we call people ‘priests’ we need something for them to do so we invent altars and a sacrifice for them to do on it. There is no beginning hint that that is the right thing to do here in the New Testament and, in particular, in this book of Hebrews.
If you belong to one of the churches where this is the way things are thought about it may not be possible for you to withdraw. If so then you have to attend that sort of service but you need to say to yourself very clearly every time that what you are doing is remembering that great moment of sacrifice when Christ cried ‘it is finished’, a moment never to be repeated, only remembered. And that is true for all of us. What is the effect? We are made holy, made acceptable to appear before the Lord God now and at the end of days.