Summary: The Ultimate Sacrifice for our sins was given by Christ Himself. God had to die for us to give us life eternal. When we are exhorted to respond to His Sacrifice for our redemption, what do we do? Do we really respond back with our very lives?
The Ultimate Sacrifice [Hebrews 9:23-28]
Opening illustration: There were 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence. Have you considered the price they paid for putting their name on what the British viewed as a treasonous document? These 56 men who signed the Declaration knew that they would be considered traitors to the crown and would likely become targets of the British army. They also knew they could become targets of their own neighbors, as not everyone in the colonies agreed there should be separation from the Empire.
Here are a few details, based on historical evidence, about some of those brave men…
• Richard Stockton is believed to have been the only signer imprisoned by the British specifically for signing the Declaration of Independence.
• Four others were captured during the Revolutionary War while engaged in warfare against the crown and were held as prisoners.
• Seventeen held commissions in the army or did medical duty during the war. Many saw their properties and livelihoods destroyed while serving.
• Two would become President of the United States: John Adams and Thomas Jefferson.
These were committed patriots who firmly believed that their cause was just and right. They unequivocally said as much in the Declaration’s opening statements …
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, governments is instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”
Let us turn to Hebrews 9 and meditate on the ultimate sacrifice Christ gave for us …
Introduction: We consider the end of the ninth chapter of Hebrews this morning, and we ought to ask ourselves: considering what we know about what Jesus did – as High Priest and Sacrifice – did Jesus do enough? Was His One Sacrifice enough? Is there a need to repeat or re-present Christ’s Sacrifice to the Father for it to be effective? Or did Jesus accomplish His Work on behalf of all those He came to save by dying once on the cross?
Hebrews 9 has been focusing on the blood of Christ and what that blood has done for those under the New Covenant. We have also been made aware of the changes which have taken place because the Old Covenant – the Law – no longer holds any authority over the believer.
Why was it necessary for Christ to give the ultimate sacrifice?
1. Purification of the Earthly and Heavenly Tabernacle (vs. 23-24):
Everything associated with the tabernacle had to be made acceptable to God. This included the structure, its furnishings, and even the people who served there. All was flawed by sin and required a blood sacrifice to be made acceptable to God.
Verse 23 says that the copies of heaven must be cleansed with the blood of animals, but "the heavenly things themselves [have to be cleansed] with better sacrifices." Why is that? Is heaven defiled? Is there sin in heaven? Some have suggested that it's because Satan has been there. Others have suggested that it's because there are "spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places" (Ephesians 6:12).
Let us look at verse 24 closely – to appear in the presence of God on our behalf
Maybe! But I think the most important thing to see is what verse 24 focuses on. Why did Christ enter [that heavenly] holy place with his better sacrifice the sacrifice of himself? It was "now to appear in the presence of God for us." The words "for us" give the key to why there has to be cleansing in heaven. We are going to be there.
Jesus Christ, through His blood, makes us acceptable to come before God in the true tabernacle. His blood makes our worship acceptable, our prayers acceptable, our gifts acceptable, and our songs acceptable. Today we are that tabernacle (temple of the living God) and Christ’s blood sanctifies and purifies it alone.
If we understand that most things were purified by blood under the Mosaic Law, and sin is forgiven only through the shedding of blood, then it would make sense to us that the copies, the shadows, the types, the patterns of the heavenly things – the Tabernacle and all its parts and the sins of the people – would be purified with blood and the sins of the people would be forgiven through the shedding of – animal – blood.
But the Tabernacle and all its parts and, especially, the forgiveness of the sins of the people through the shedding of animal blood were only foreshadowing of the real things – of the heavenly things – which would require better sacrifices.
In order for the sacrifice to merit heavenly standards, a human would have to shed his blood for a human – and, like the animal that was sacrificed, it would have to be a human that was without spot or blemish – it would have to be a perfect, holy, sinless human. But that would only cover all the sins of a person’s past – if you could find a perfect human who would be willing to stand in for you to be sacrificed, your past sins would be forgiven through the blood of the sacrifice, but as soon as you sinned again, you would be under the Wrath of God again. So, not only would you need to find a real human being who was sinless, but that human being would also have to be God so He could survive the Wrath of God for all of your sin – past, present, and future.