Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Nov 10 2013 - Hebrews 10:1-18 – Jesus has sat down at God’s right hand

The writer of Hebrews paints a strong contrast between Jesus and the priests of the Old Covenant. The latter were always busy; "Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins" (Hebrews 10:11). They were always on their feet, always on the go, their work was never finished. The constant ceremonies were not only a reminder to the people of their sinfulness (10:3), they also reminded them that God continued to remember their sins.

What a wonderful contrast when it comes to Jesus; "when [he] had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins ... he sat down at the right hand of God" (10:12). Jesus has sat down; his atoning work is finished. God remembers our sin no more (10:17 / Jeremiah 31:34).

The gospel transforms ‘remembrance’ from being a remembrance of guilt to a remembrance of grace. This is the meaning of our continual remembrance of Christ’s sacrifice when we break bread and drink wine together. Christ is not offered again but we are reminded again of the fullness and perfection of his saving work. We celebrate his death.

Just as Jesus rests from his saving work, so also we can rest in his saving work. We do not need to be occupied with frantic activity in the hope of being acceptable to God, "For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy" (10:14). What a wonderful paradox; we have been made perfect yet are still being made holy. We are perfectly acceptable to God; there is nothing more that we need to do to commend ourselves to him. Nevertheless, there is plenty more that he will do in us to make us like his Son (10:16); we are still undergoing transformation.

The other big difference between the sacrifices of the old covenant and that of Jesus is that he offered himself. The writer of this letter quotes Psalm 40, reading it as a prophecy concerning the Lord Jesus. When Christ came into the world he did not come to offer better animal sacrifices, he came to offer himself in full submission to the Father’s will. This entailed him being offered as the perfect sacrifice for our sin.

There is nothing left to be done but to trust in him and in all that he has done for us. But there is also much to be done in following him and learning that same spirit that marked his life "Here I am ... I have come to do your will, my God" (Hebrews 10:7). There is much to be done in serving him and making him known.

This letter was written to show these faltering Jewish Christians that there could be no turning back to the ceremonies which had been central to their lives before they learnt of Christ. They cannot turn back for there is no longer anything to turn back to. Jesus has done away with all that is past and has opened up a way forward into the future. They need to press on in following him.

So also do we. There is no alternative. Nor could we wish for any other way.

Father we thank you that Jesus makes all the difference. He is not just another teacher sent from heaven: he is your final word and your final act in our salvation; he is your final judgment. Help us to remember with joy all that he has done for us that we might press on in following him, fully assured of sin forgiven and with a sure and certain hope of glory. Empower us to tell the world the good news that in Christ judgment is past and that you welcome all to live with you.

Peter Misselbrook