The Ultimate Sacrifice of Christ (Rom. 8:3)
Christ is the only means of redemption. In all of heaven and earth, not an angel nor beast could restore the broken relationship between God and humanity. Although sacrifices were offered for various purposes (Leviticus 16; Gen. 22:3), they could not redeem humanity from sin and its effects. The sacrifices had their limitations. First, the people offering them were earthly priests that could die like any other person. Second, the blood of animals was ineffective to assure forgiveness of sins. The coming of Christ brought perfection. He fulfilled the will of God by obeying every commandment to the letter. He fulfilled all righteousness by showing perfect obedience, perfect love.
Christ has entered the Most Holy Place in heaven with His own blood.
Therefore, only through Christ could God save humanity. “Jesus Christ came as the perfect embodiment of obedience to the law of God, and with the purpose of inspiring others with the same spirit and leading all who trust in Him to the same obedience from the heart to the law of God.”1
The Holy and Blameless Sacrifice
We need to know something about the person of Christ. The author of Romans writes that Jesus came “in the likeness of sinful flesh” (Rom. 8:3). By this statement, Paul implies that while Christ had flesh like sinners, He was never sinful. In order to save humanity from sin, God had to come in the form of sinners.
Christ came to the world to provide atonement for sin. He did not come to condemn sinners but to take away the dominion of sin. His death was the greatest sacrifice and greatest gift for humanity to attain salvation (Gal. 3:13).
Christ the Sacrificial Lamb (Hebrews 7)
In the Jewish community the High Priest occupied the highest office in the priestly system. Once a year, the High Priest would perform a sacrifice of atonement and apply the blood in the Most Holy Place. The process involved sprinkling the blood of animals (Lev. 9:15–24) to purify the sanctuary and the people of Israel from the defilement of sin.
In the book of Hebrews, the author talks about Melchizedek, also called “King of Righteousness” (Heb. 7:1, The Message). This king meets Abraham and blesses him. Melchizedek typifies Christ the Son of God, who lives to eternity and whose sacrifice is final. Like Melchizedek in the times of Abraham, Christ is our King of Righteousness, Prince of Peace, and High Priest.
“But the High Priest of our profession holds his office by the power of end-less life in himself; not only to keep himself alive, but to give spiritual and eternal life to all who rely upon his sacrifice and intercession. . . . This is the believer’s safety and happiness, that this everlasting High Priest is able to save to the uttermost, in all times, in all cases. Surely then it becomes us to desire a spirituality and holiness, as much beyond those of the Old Testament believers, as our advantages exceed theirs.”2
The Copy Versus the Real Thing (Heb. 9:24)
In His intercessory ministry in heaven, Christ defends His followers against the accusations of the enemy. At Calvary, Christ personally defeated Satan (Rev. 12:7–10). As His followers, we can equally defeat the enemy when we accept Christ as our personal Savior. In His mediatory service in heaven, Christ personally protects us from our accuser.
The earthly sanctuary typified the heavenly sanctuary. Unlike the earthly priest who entered the Most Holy Place with the blood of animals, though, Christ has entered the Most Holy Place in heaven with His own blood. This stands as the final rubber stamp to the sacrifice of redemption. In the heavenly sanctuary, Jesus takes us into the very presence of God (Eph. 2:5).
Earthly and Heavenly Purification (Heb. 9:22, 23)
Because of sin, there is need for purification. In Israel, the priests performed the process of purification using the blood of animals. The practice had a significant meaning in the Jewish community because it showed the people their extreme need for mercy. It also showed the mercy that God had for sinners.
The author of Hebrews writes of “a shadow of good things to come” (Heb. 10:1). By the earthly sacrifices, God pointed the Israelites to a better sacrifice that God would provide through Jesus. It is written, “It is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins” (verse 4).
Therefore, “the Son of the living God must take upon him our nature; must die as an atonement for sin; must enter into heaven with his own blood. . . . It is all necessary for God’s honour; for no less a sacrifice than this would satisfy his justice: and it is all equally necessary for our happiness; since nothing less can bring peace into our consciences, or operate with a transforming efficacy on our souls.”3
1. What is the importance of blood in the process of atonement?
2. Why is there no more need for earthly sacrifices?
3. What is the significance of the atonement in the last days?
1. David Lipscomb, A Commentary on the New Testament Epistles (Nashville, TN: The Gospel Advocate Company, 1969), p. 143.
2. “Hebrews 7,” Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary, accessed March 21, 2017, http://www .christianity.com/bible/commentary.php?com=mhc&b=58&c=7.
3. “Discourse 2304: Use of Typical Purifications,” Charles Simeon’s Horae Homileticae, quoted in “Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary: Hebrews 9:23,” StudyLight.org, accessed March 21, 2017, http://www.studylight.org/commentary/hebrews/9-23.html.