Tuesday, July 12, 2016

The Right Kind of Sacrifice!

Readings for the Day
Isaiah 11-14, Hebrews 9

Verses for the Day
25 Nor did he enter heaven to offer himself again and again, the way the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood that is not his own. 26 Otherwise Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But he has appeared once for all at the culmination of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself. 27 Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, 28 so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.

The writer of Hebrews compares the sacrifice that the high priest made every year on behalf of the people, with the sacrifice Jesus made for us on the cross. The priest took the blood of the innocent lamb to cleanse the altar and atone for the sins of the people. As the passage says earlier, "there is no forgiveness without the shedding of blood." Why? Because payment needs to be made for justice to be had. We all long for justice when we see things go wrong in the world, except when it comes to our own sin. Then, we would prefer mercy. Jonah did not want to go to Nineveh, because he was afraid God would show mercy to his enemies, and he did.

But the problem was these sacrifices needed to be made again and again. Jesus however made the once and for all sacrifice for all of mankind. Jesus' sacrifice was superior because it was not the blood of bulls and rams, but the blood of the innocent Lamb of God. The writer states that we are all destined to die once, and then to face judgment. This by the way rules out "re-incarnation", or coming back a second time to right all of our wrongs. No, we die and face the judgment for the wrongs we have done to others and against God.

But though we deserve judgment, in God's mercy Jesus wiped away our sins once and for all when offerd himself on a cross to die. The one who was sinless gave his life for those who were dead in sin. Jesus paid a debt he didn't owe, for those who owed a debt they couldn't pay. Therefore, those whose hope is in Christ will not face judgment, but instead receive salvation. Salvation means healing. Healing from our sin, and deliverance from the power of sin.

So what might this mean for us? First, God doesn't desire for us to try and make our own sacrifice for our own sin. The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken and contrite heart, and then trusting in the sacrifice Jesus made for us. Secondly, our sin past, present and future has been completely covered by the once and for all sacrifice Jesus made on our behalf. This is the Good News. This is the Gospel. This is what makes Christinaity different from every other religion. This is our fuel for living a life worthy of the gospel we have received and sharing it with others.

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