Summary: To turn to anything other than Christ for salvation is spiritually fatal! Christ alone fulfilled everything the OT pointed to in type. In fact His 3 appearances are vital for us. Tomorrow as we delve into scripture, we will see what Christ's 3 appearances
Opening illustration: In 1914 Ernest Shackleton led an expedition to sail to Antarctica, and then walk to the South Pole. The expedition went according to plan until ice trapped the ship and eventually crushed its hull. The men made their way by lifeboat to a small island. Promising to come back for them, Shackleton and a small rescue party set out across 800 miles of perilous seas to South Georgia Island.
With only a sextant to guide them, they made it to the island. Shackleton then led his party over steep mountainous terrain to the whaling port on the other side. Once there, he acquired a ship to rescue his crew. Their leader had kept his word and returned for them. Not one man was left behind.
As Jesus was preparing to leave His disciples, He promised to return. He said, "If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also" (John 14:3). After enduring the horrors of the cross, Jesus rose from the dead to provide eternal life to all who believe in Him as their Savior. He indwells us today by the Holy Spirit, but one day He will return and gather us into His presence (1 Thessalonians 4:15-18). Jesus is true to His word. If you are His, He will come back for you! (Dennis Fisher, ODB)
Let turn to Hebrews 9 and see what the three appearances of Christ do for us …
Introduction: The author of Hebrews was writing to people who were tempted to turn away from Christ to their former Jewish religion. He is hammering home the vital truth of the superiority, supremacy, and all-sufficiency of the Lord Jesus Christ and His sacrificial death for our sins. To turn to anything other than Christ for salvation is spiritually fatal! Christ alone fulfilled everything that the Old Testament pointed to in type. The priesthood, the sacrifices, and all of the religious rituals found their fulfillment in Jesus Christ. In a nutshell, if our trust is in Christ alone for salvation, we will escape God’s judgment. But if our trust is in anything or anyone else—our own adherence to some religious system, our own good works or righteousness, our religious heritage, or whatever—we will die and come under judgment.
So the issues at stake here are of eternal significance. If the repetition seems tedious, bear with it. If God uses it to open the eyes of one soul to the impossibility of salvation by human works or worth, and to the cross of Christ as God’s only provision, it is well worth repeating again.
What did the three appearances of Christ do for us?
1. Presentation before The Father – Act of PURIFICATION (vs. 23-24)
When Moses gave the pattern for the tabernacle and its services, he took the blood and water and sprinkled the book, people, the tabernacle and all the vessels used in the worship of God. Almost all things were purified by means of blood (Lev. 17:11). Other things were ceremonially purified by water and fire; but without the shedding of blood there was no forgiveness of sin! There is no example of pardon and forgiveness without blood. The Old Testament sacrifices and ceremonies as well as the very fact that Christ’s blood has been shed makes it foolish to suppose that pardon might be had without it (1 Cor. 5:7; Gal. 2:19-21)
Fulfilling the type and patterns of heavenly things given in those Old Testament symbols (Heb. 8:5; 9:23), the Lord Jesus Christ, our great High Priest, entered into heaven before the holy Lord God as the Representative and Mediator of God’s elect, the true, spiritual Israel, “the Israel of God.” Having fully satisfied the law; he atoned for our sins with his blood. He makes intercession for us in the holy place, in heaven itself, presenting the infinite merits of his blood and righteousness perpetually (1 John 2:1-2).
The earthly tabernacle was a copy of the heavenly one (8:5). The necessity of cleansing the earthly tabernacle with blood illustrated the necessity of cleansing the heavenly tabernacle with blood. Why did the heavenly tabernacle need cleansing? Was there something wrong with it? No, there was something wrong with us. It needed to be cleansed so that we could be there. In connection with the first covenant, everything was sprinkled with blood, both the people and the tabernacle. There was nothing between the people and the Lord but blood. The same is true for us. The only thing between God and us is blood - the blood of Christ. And if that's the only thing, there's nothing between God and us, for the blood of Christ is what ushers us into God's presence. He didn't have to repeat it, did He? He did it once. Better sacrifice first of all because, when he got done He entered right into the presence of God and stayed there. Number two, because He never had to do it again. It was a perfect sacrifice. Look at that word "often." Boy, in the Old Testament they kept doing it and doing it and doing it and doing it and doing it, over and over and over. But Jesus didn't have to.