“Unlike other High Priests, He (Jesus) does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for His own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when He offered Himself.” Hebrews 7:27; Reformation; 10/28/18
About this time every year I get the same feeling! It happens every year! It goes kind of like this. The other day, I had just finished picking up the leaves on my lawn. I actually kind of enjoy it. I mow them and put them both in recycling—“kill two birds with one stone, right”. And afterward, I looked over my lawn, and thought, “Wow, that looks great!” The grass is green, the leaves are all colorful and up in the trees. It’s a beautiful crisp fall day. All is well!
But, within a short amount of time, I went inside my house and looked at my back yard, and those beautiful leaves that were up in the trees just a few minutes ago were now laying on that once picked up lawn. And I thought to myself, “Now, I’m going to need to do it all over again! The leaves keep coming! Again and again and again, until the snow comes—right? And then that will need to be taken care of, again, and again, and again. Because the snow keeps coming!
But, if you think about it, there are so many jobs that we have to do, over and over, again and again in life! Wash the dishes, or pack the dishwasher, unpack the dishwasher, sweep the floor, vacuum the carpet. Make the lunches. Clean up afterward. Prepare the dinner. Clean up after dinner. Go shopping. Unpack the car. Clean the car. Some of them very easy, some of them harder, but they always need to be done again and again and again. It is ongoing and sometimes never seem to stop.
Imagine some of the other much more difficult jobs that need to go on and on, every day! How about for people who lived long ago? How about for a moment the job of the Old Testament Jewish priest. His job dealt with offering sacrifices to God every day. Some of the sacrifices would be things like incense which would be burned at the altar of incense, and sometimes grain would be offered, burned as a grain offering to the Lord. Those offerings would be pretty easy.
But each day there also would be offerings of doves, and bulls, goats and sheep—a lamb in the morning and at night!. Every day, the job of the priest was to offer these sacrifices by ceremonially killing the animal, and placing them on the altar to be burned in a way that was given by the Lord, as a way to pay for people’s sins. Imagine, how hard of a job that would be, each and every day. And because people did not stop sinning, the sacrifices in the Old Testament needed to continue every day.
What is more, once a year, on the special day called the Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur, the High Priest would sacrifice one bull for his own sins and one goat was sacrificed for the sake of all the people. The blood of the bull and the blood of the goat were taken and sprinkled in the special room in the temple, called the Holy of Holies, on what was called the mercy seat of God. These things happened year after year. It was the job of the High Priest. There didn’t seem to ever be an end to it, because the sins kept coming, and they need to be atoned for. Talk about a tough job that seemed to have no end—day after day, year after year!
But, praise God, because that was the old covenant, the old promise, which was just a shadow, something that pointed to, what was to come. Because God has a new covenant, far better that is fulfilled in Jesus Christ. Here, there’s no need for daily sacrifices of animals (praise God), and no need for the yearly sacrifice both for the High Priest and the people on the Day of Atonement. No blood needs to be sprinkled in the Holy of Holies on the mercy seat of God any more. Because the genuine, authentic, High Priest Jesus Christ Himself, has shed His own blood for each one of us, once for all on the cross. Like the book of Hebrews says, “Unlike the other high priests, He does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for His own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins, once for all when He offered Himself.” And what is more, your High Priest, Jesus Christ rose again from the dead on the third day, so that we would have eternal salvation in His name—forever and ever Amen!
Today, in our church, we are celebrating the Reformation. The Reformation was a movement that was started by Martin Luther, on October 31, 1517 (501 yrs. ago), as he nailed the 95 Theses to the church doors in Wittenberg, Germany to begin a conversation to reform or bring change to the church. The Catholic church of Luther’s time and still today, wrongly taught that if you really wanted to have your sins fully forgiven, you needed to do something more too. Christ’s forgiveness wasn’t complete until you did something more as what was called satisfaction. That satisfaction, in Luther’s day may be buying an indulgence, paying to touch a relic, making a pilgrimage to Rome, or perhaps even today saying a special set of prayers. But, one of Luther’s main points in the Reformation that still applies today, was that Jesus’ forgiveness was already full, complete, and once for all. We cannot and dare not, add anything to it, His forgiveness is complete! Just imagine, if you had to try to earn it every day! It would be like saying Jesus sacrifice wasn’t complete enough. And sometimes we all fall into that temptation to also think that way. Dear Lord forgive us!
Because, unlike so many other things in life, your forgiveness has been paid in full through Jesus. There’s no need to have it re-upped every day, every week, or once a year. It’s the gift of a lifetime—eternal life—and it’s given by Jesus once for all! The text in Hebrews says, “Such a high priest meets our need—one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens.” Our high priest Jesus meets all of the needs of our life.
What are our needs in life? To know that we are loved. You are precious to Jesus, each and every one of you. “God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life. To know that we are forgiven. “Jesus sacrificed for your sins once for all.” And on the cross He said, “It is finished.” (The debt is paid) And we have the need to know that He is with us. He said, “Surely (Lo), I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”(Matt. 28:20) And if you look closely at this passage from Hebrews, you will see that it says, “Such a high priest meets our need”—singular. Our greatest need is to know that we have eternal salvation in Jesus. It is ours. It is the truth. And that truth will set you free!
Maybe you know someone who struggles with a lot of worry, stress, and anxiety in life. They constantly worry because they feel they’re not talented enough, not smart enough, not good enough. Satan, the world, and their own sinful flesh make them feel like they’ve got to do more, to earn their acceptance, and earn their salvation. It has cost them a lot. Loss of sleep, loss of health, loss of friendships. Maybe it’s even led them down the road of bad habits and addictions to, alcohol, drugs, and other types of things. Maybe this someone is a friend or family member. Maybe it’s even you!
Let this Reformation truth sink into your heart and soul… Let it bring you hope and joy…Your High Priest, Jesus Christ, meets our need—all of them, our greatest need—He is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, and exalted above the heavens! He genuinely and authentically loves you! He has sacrificed for you, once for all, and grants you His forgiveness, (it keeps coming) daily, hourly, all the time, and calls you freely to serve Him with joy…
God grant it…