The Perfect Sacrifice (Hebrews 9:24-28)
I have a confession to make—I’m not perfect. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, my Virginia driver’s license expired before I could get a Texas one. Therefore, when I went to the Department of Public Safety, I learned I had to take my driving test all over again!
A really nice lady gave me the test. I parallel parked and drove through a neighborhood without any problems. We went back to the Department of Public Safety, and she started going over how I did, and I had done extremely well: parallel parking was perfect, my stopping at stop signs was perfect, my watching for other traffic was perfect. But I failed! She told me I didn’t go fast enough, and she couldn’t pass me. I got my license without a problem on my second try, but it was disheartening to hear that I’d done so many things well but failed because of one thing.
I’m sure that I’m the only one in this room who isn’t perfect, right? If I showed up at your house this afternoon, I would find nothing out of place; not a single dish in the sink, nothing on the floor, and not a spot of dirt anywhere. I know you dress perfectly; your clothes are always perfectly pressed, and you never get any lunch on you. Speaking of appearance, I’m confident that your hair is always in place, and your weight is perfect according to the BMI chart. I know you’ve never forgotten to pay a bill or lost your keys or forgotten something was due at school or work.
Let’s face it—because we live in a fallen world not a single one of us is perfect. But Jesus lived a perfect life: “He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth” (1 Pet 2:22). He could, therefore, be a perfect sacrifice for sins.
The Hebrew Christians were in serious danger of abandoning the truth of the gospel and going back to Judaism. So, the author of Hebrews wrote throughout the book that Christianity is superior to Judaism because the gospel is the culmination of the Law and the Prophets. He did that in this morning’s text by showing Jesus’s sacrifice is superior to Old Testament sacrifices.
The author said Jesus’s sacrifice is better than Old Testament sacrifices in two ways:
- Jesus used a better tabernacle:
- Jesus did not enter a holy place “made with hands” (v 24).
- Jesus entered heaven to appear in God’s presence (v 24).
- Jesus used a better time:
- Jesus did not offer himself repeatedly year after year (vv 25-26).
- Jesus offered himself once (v 28).
There’s another important truth the author wrote in our text: That perfect sacrifice was for you.
- Jesus appeared “in the presence of God on our behalf” (v 24).
- Jesus was “offered once to bear the sins of many” (v 28).
As we examine the entire passage in context, one truth becomes evident: “Jesus Christ is the perfect sacrifice for you.”
Scripture (Hebrews 9:24-28)
Jesus didn’t enter into holy places made with hands. That’s what the imperfect priests under the Law of Moses did. The earthly holy places are “copies of the true things.” The Greek term for “copies” literally means “answering to the type” and means a counterpart to reality. The earthly holy places, in other words, were intended to teach about the true one in heaven. Jesus, in fact, entered heaven itself and is in God’s presence for you.
The priests offered the blood of animals every year. If Jesus had to offer himself that way, he would have to suffer repeatedly from the foundation of the world. In other words, Jesus would have had to offer himself as a sacrifice from eternity to eternity. He would always be dying on the cross.
He appeared “once for all . . . to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.” Jesus’s sacrifice of himself “once for all” says a great deal about his blood. His blood is so powerful that he only had to offer himself once.
Jesus appeared “at the end of the ages.” Jews divided history into different “ages.” The meaning here seems to be that Jesus’s sacrifice is the culmination of history. In other words, all history points to Jesus’s sacrifice on the cross.
Man only dies once and then faces judgment; in the same way, Jesus only died once.
He died once “to bear the sins of many.” You are part of that “many.” Jesus went to Golgotha, was stripped of his clothing, had nails driven through his hands and feet, was hoisted up on the cross as a common criminal, struggled to breathe, and finally died to bear your sins.
Jesus will appear a second time. When the high priest came from the holy place, the people knew their sins were forgiven. That’s likely the image the author intended here: when Jesus bursts through the skies in glory, we’ll know that not only our sins have been forgiven but that our struggles with sin are over.
Jesus won’t appear to deal with sin—he has already done that. Instead, Jesus will appear “to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.” Those anticipating Jesus’s coming will be saved on that great day.
“Jesus Christ is the perfect sacrifice for you.” Normally, at this point in the lesson, we’d examine how you need to live in light of what we’ve studied. However, this text tells us more what you need to believe than about how you should live. What should you believe?
You need to believe the Sacrifice for your sin.
This text teaches that Jesus died for your sins. Christ was “offered once to bear the sins of many.” What you need to understand is that you are included in that many.
Jesus died for every man, woman, and child who has ever lived or will ever live. “God so loved the world” (Jn 3:16). “He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 Jn 2:2).
You are the reason Jesus came and died. You, as imperfect as you are, are worthy of the sacrifice of God’s Son. That says a great deal about how valuable you are before God. Because Jesus died for you, you have no reason to doubt your worth. Jesus’s death on the cross proves just how much God loves you—the Creator of this vast universe loves you enough that he sent his Son to suffer and die for you. You are that important to the Creator!
You need to believe the Strength over your sin
You need, in other words, to believe that Jesus’s blood has the power to forgive you for all your sins. Jesus was “offered once to bear the sins of many” (v 28). Jesus’s blood is so powerful that he only had to die one time for sins. Under the Old Testament system, sacrifices were repeatedly made, but “it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins” (Heb 10:4).
Jesus’s blood, on the other hand, has great power, power to forgive every sin. Jesus “is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them” (Heb 7:25). “By a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified” (Heb 10:14).
I don’t know what sins you’ve committed in the past, sins which haunt you to this day. Maybe you committed sexual immorality and destroyed trust, or you disrespected your parents with hurtful words, or you slandered someone’s reputation, or you habitually lied, or you exploded in a rage. Jesus’s blood has power to forgive even those sins. Jesus’s blood has the power to forgive the worst thing you’ve ever done, to forgive even the worst sin you can imagine.
You need to believe the Seriousness of your sin.
Sin is so serious that Jesus needed to die because of it. Jesus died at Golgotha “to bear the sins of many” (v 28). Of the cup at the Lord’s Supper, Jesus said, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins” (Matt 26:28). “Christ died for our sins” (1 Cor 15:3).
Yes, you should take comfort in the truth that Jesus’s blood can forgive every single sin you’ve ever committed or will ever commit. However, you must also understand that those sins are why Jesus had to die.
Your sins are not simple mistakes or slips that are no big deal. Instead, the perfectly sinless Son of God had to leave the glory of heaven to die on Golgotha’s hill because you are a sinner. Surely, you must, therefore, put sin away from you. It’s little wonder Paul wrote: “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires” (Gal 5:24).
You need to believe the Saving over your sin.
Jesus will come again to save you and take you to glory. That’s what the author of Hebrews said: “Christ . . . will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him” (v 28).
Jesus is coming again. “The Son of Man is coming” (Matt 24:44). After the Ascension, angels told the apostles: “This Jesus . . . will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11). We are “waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ” (Tit 2:13).
This world shall not always go on as it is now. At some unknown time, Jesus will burst through the skies in glory. All men will be gathered before him to be judged according to what they have done in the body. The righteous shall enter eternal bliss, but the wicked shall be damned to an eternal devil’s hell to be tormented without end.
While many will be eternally lost on that Day, Jesus will “save those who are eagerly waiting for him.” Are you “eagerly waiting for him?” In other words, are you looking forward to Jesus’s coming?