Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Nov 8 2013 - Hebrews 9:1-10 – A better sacrifice

For all the splendour of the Temple with its golden furnishings, fine curtains and elaborate rituals, it was of limited use. The sacrifices offered were only "for the sins the people had committed in ignorance" (Hebrews 9:7). It does not take more than a moment or two of honest reflection to discover that we "are not stray sheep, or wandering prodigals merely; we are rebels taken with weapons in our hands" (P. T. Forsyth). In the words of the Prayer Book we have to confess that "We have sinned against you [Almighty God, our heavenly Father], and against our fellow men, in thought and word and deed, in the evil we have done and in the good we have not done, through ignorance, through weakness, through our own deliberate fault." For the deeply troubled conscience the rituals of the Temple could offer no relief; they "were not able to clear the conscience of the worshiper" (9:9); they were not able to set the worshipers free.

Thank God for Jesus, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.

Not all the blood of beasts
On Jewish altars slain
Could give the guilty conscience peace
Or wash away the stain.

But Christ, the heavenly Lamb,
Takes all our sins away;
A sacrifice of nobler name
And richer blood than they.

My faith would lay its hand
Upon his head divine
While as a penitent I stand,
And there confess my sin.

So I look back to see
The weight he chose to bear
When hanging on the cross for me –
Because my guilt was there.

Believing, we rejoice
To know our sins forgiven;
We bless the Lamb with cheerful voice
And join the praise of heaven.

There is a fullness and finality about the sacrifice of Christ; he is able to give the guilty conscience peace and wash away the stain.

Jesus has inaugurated a “new order” (9:10), a new age, a time when things are put right. We need to learn how to live in this new age: to live as those who have been set free from guilt and fear; to live as those who have been freed to live the life of the age to come. We are to live a life not weighed down and overshadowed with the burden of what we have been, but a life lived gratefully towards the glory of what we shall be – the glorious freedom of the children of God (Romans 8:21). This is the life in all its fullness that Jesus gives to those who come to him.

And this is a corporate life – a life that we are called to live together as the fellowship of his people. We are to recognise that our brothers and sisters have also been forgiven and cleansed from all that is past. We no longer regard them simply from a human point of view; we recognise one another as new creatures in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:16-17). We do not keep a record of the faults of others (1 Corinthians 13:5; 1 Peter 4:8); we do not harbour accusations and resentments. Rather, we continually encourage one another to press on in following the Lord Jesus and becoming more like him. The sacrificial death of the Lord Jesus cleanses us from all our sins; the resurrection life of the Lord Jesus empowers us to live transformed lives. 

Father God, thank you that you have forgiven all our sins for Christ’s sake and have owned us as your redeemed children. Help us by your Spirit to live the new life to which you have called us in Christ – a life that is dead to sin and alive to righteousness. Help us to encourage one another to live this life and to live it to the full.

Peter Misselbrook