Summary: In a world with so many choices why choose Christ?
Visual images tell stories. From the cave paintings on the walls of La Grotte Chauvet in France to the latest Tom Clancy novel we’ve “seen” with our minds the story unfold. Its been said that movie theaters are the Church for post-moderns and it shouldn’t surprise us to see the concept of sacrifice and salvation played out on the silver screen.
In “John Q” a desperate father holds a hospital hostage to save his son. Tom Hanks, in “Road to Perdition”, does everything he can to keep his son from traveling down the same road to hell he’d been traveling as a hit man.
Sometimes they show a person sacrificing themselves for the good of a whole group like in “Mr. Roberts” who gives up his demand for a transfer to the front in order to get his men the liberty they so need. Sometimes the sacrifice is meant to save the whole world like “Armageddon” when the crew sacrifice themselves for a hope of saving the planet. But, the fact remains that nothing, from Henry Fonda’s personal sacrifice in 1964’s “Fail-Safe” to Mr. Spock’s line, “the needs of the many out weigh the needs of the few” in “The Wrath of Kahn” or Charleston Heston’s crucifix-like death in “The Omega Man” can hope to compare with to the story of God’s love for us and what it meant to have Jesus willing go through the horrid of crucifixion for us.
This is why the book of “Hebrews” was written. It tells how Jesus is superior to what had been before. Those who had believed that Jesus is Messiah and were trying to stay with their Jewish roots were having to answer the age old question; “Why wasn’t the past good enough”? “What’s wrong with the way we’ve done things?” “Why should we all have to change just because of this Jesus?” The first section, chapters 1 and 2 tell us Jesus is superior to the angels. The first part of chapter 3 we learn Jesus is superior to Moses, and those who follow him like those who entered the land. In chapter 6-8 Jesus is shown to be superior to the priesthood and because of his perfection he doesn’t have to offer a sin offering to cover his sins.
And that leads us to here, where Jesus is the High Priest in contrast to the myriad of priests who had come and gone. And the forgiveness that His blood brings cleanses us from sin instead of merely “covering” them.
Once a year the high priest entered, the Holy of Holies, to offer the blood of the sacrifice for the sins of the nation (see Leviticus 16). And before that an offering for the Priest’s own sins had to be made. When Christ enters the picture the need for a special place goes away because He isn’t afraid of dying if He sees God. He has direct access to His Father.
Goats and bulls were “covered” the sins of the people. They made a relationship between God and the people right for a while. But Jesus, by his own blood, doesn’t just “cover” our sins but “cleanses us” Once more listen to how The Message says this,
“ 14think how much more the blood of Christ cleans up our whole lives, inside and out. 15Through the Spirit, Christ offered himself as an unblemished sacrifice, freeing us from all those dead-end efforts to make ourselves respectable, so that we can live all out for God.”
In a day where sacrificing animals or even butchering them is something most of us don’t do and have never seen done what can this possibly have to do with us? First of all our world is a lot like Jesus’. Beliefs, religions, personal desires, and religious expressions were varied, welcomed and somewhat even protected and promoted by Rome. What happened after someone died was a matter of speculation and feelings. There was a lack of any certainty or hope among many of those who lived them. They were trying to survive.
Today our world promote a belief that all religions lead to heaven. Have you seen the bumper sticker that says, “My God is too big to fit in one religion”? That summarizes the “feelings” of many in our culture. And these various religions all have their myriad of “priest”, “prophets” and “portrayers”.
In fact, there are a whole myriad of “priests” for these various feelings (I can’t use the word faith for many of them). From WICCA to Islam; from the ADL to the lobbying effort by American Atheists. It’s there in movies like “Ghost” that promote a simple view that good people go to the light and bad people are dragged off to hell. “What Dreams May Come” would have us believe we create our own heavenly universe. It’s much like Deepak Chopra’s mix of new age and Hinduism. For he, along with the Ophra Winfrey are modern day priests for New Age “feelings. Our political leaders too become prophets of this they extol the peaceful nature of Islam while ignoring Islam’s own teaching in the Koran. All of these and others seek to make Jesus just another one of the myriad of pretenders. If you think our nation is alone in this battle take heart. An Italian judge ruled that a crucifix had to be removed from a classroom because Muslims were feeling uncomfortable.