Summary: The one and only High Priest of all made a once for all forever sacrifice that takes eternal care of our sin problem. Hebrews 10:1-18 tells the details.
Have any of you seen the movie “Ground-hog Day.” It is a comedy about an arrogant weatherman played by Bill Murrey, who gets stuck on Ground-hog day in Puksatony, Pennsylvania. He hates it. Every day he gets up and it is the same day, the alarm clock is playing the same Sonny and Cher song, “I got you Babe.” It’s winter outside and everyone does the same thing they did yesterday, because it’s not really yesterday, it’s the same day over and over again. After a while he tries to kill himself, and he does! But still he keeps waking up again to Ground-hog day anyway. Finally, after years of the same day, he gets it right. He learns the lesson of humility and the spell is broken. He is set free from the unending reliving of the same day.
Have you ever thought about all the things you and I have to do over and over and over again? Laundry, dishes, taking out the garbage, getting a haircut, housework, brushing your teeth, and listening to the same preacher every Sunday… the list continues on and on.
I remember hating to mow the grass as a kid. We had a section of yard that was over the leech field and it used to grow grass like crazy. You could practically watch the grass grow. It had to be mowed again every three days it seemed to me. Over and over and over until finally winter came and set me free for a season.
There are many things we do that we must do over and over, but there are some things that we only get one shot at. Some things only happen once in a lifetime. In fact, the very rarity of them makes them uniquely valuable and outstanding. This contrast is how the Hebrew writer depicts the value of Jesus’ sacrifice in comparison with the Old Covenant sacrifices. The endlessly repeated sacrifices of the Old Covenant could never accomplish what the precious once for all, forever sacrifice of Jesus did completely. What the old sacrifices actually did was foreshadow the once for all, forever offering of Christ.
Look at Hebrews 10:1-4
1For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect. 2For then would they not have ceased to be offered? For the worshipers, once purified, would have had no more consciousness of sins. 3But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. 4For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins.
Jenny’s dad is a big photographer. He takes pictures all the time and Jenny’s folks have several pictures of the kids and grandkids up all over the house. Pictures are great, but the very best picture can never replace the person it depicts, but it’s job is to represent that person and bring that person to mind. Just as the sacrifices of the Old Covenant depicted something beyond themselves that they could never replace. It wasn’t a shadow of God’s grace that saved us, but the very presence of God in Jesus Christ full of grace and truth who came to save us. All the blood of all the animal sacrifices of all the hundreds of years could do nothing to take away a single sin. They were never intended to. They were pointing beyond themselves to the perfect sacrifice with perfect blood.
Now the Hebrew writer shows that the Old Testament foretold this all along. Listen to verses 5-10.
5Therefore, when He came into the world, He said:
“Sacrifice and offering You did not desire,
But a body You have prepared for Me.
6 In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin
You had no pleasure.
7 Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come—
In the volume of the book it is written of Me—
To do Your will, O God.’ ”
8Previously saying, “Sacrifice and offering, burnt offerings, and offerings for sin You did not desire, nor had pleasure in them” (which are offered according to the law), 9then He said, “Behold, I have come to do Your will, O God.” He takes away the first that He may establish the second. 10By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
Let me ask you a question. If God didn’t want sacrifices and offerings, why did he command them in the first place? I mean, God did inspire Moses to command that Israel offer sacrifices and he specifically detailed who and how and when and what and where they were to be offered. Sacrifices were not optional in the worship of the Old Covenant. They were central. They were foundational to cleansing and forgiveness. So what is going on when the Old Testament also says that God did not desire them nor did they please him.