A Better Sacrifice

Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death.” If we sin, we must die. Yet this is also true: we sin, but we don’t have to die because Jesus died in our place. My question is why? Did He have to? In my mind, God could have just done away with it all. No pain. No death. God, however, did not work our world that way. By His Word, death is sin’s penalty. Though I often cannot understand it, that penalty must be paid the way the Bible teaches us. “But why?” I ask again. I believe Hebrews 9&10 give a glimpse into one reason. It is all about the blood.

 Sin. God is just and must punish it (Ex. 34:7b). Unfortunately, as mentioned above, our death is the penalty for our sin. God’s holiness demands the consequence and restitution of sin necessarily this way. Yet God’s mercy provides a way for forgiveness: bloodshed in our place. Blood is life. Life must be poured out for sin. It must be poured out for forgiveness. Hebrews 9:22b says without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins. In the Old Covenant, or Law, that is why certain clean animals were sacrificed. Their blood was substitutionary–in our place.

In Hebrews 9:1-7, we learn the Law directed the high priest to offer the blood of a bull and goat in the Holy of Holies once a year. He did this to atone for the sins of himself and the people. If you mark time references in your Bible (I use a green circle or clock), the phrase “once a year” in verse 7 would have stood out to you. The high priest, you see, offered this sacrifice every year. (This does not even include the constant sacrifices for other sins throughout the year.) Why every year? Hebrews 10:4 explains “it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.” The sacrifices could only temporarily relieve the sin problem. Hebrews 10:1-2a further explains: “For the Law…can never, by the same sacrifices which they offer continually year by year, make perfect those who draw near. Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered…?”

I know what you are asking now: what’s the point of killing the animals then? Though they could not perfectly take sin away, God overlooked sin because of them (Romans 3:25b). Continual sacrifices also provided a reminder of sins year, after year, after year (Hebrews 10:3). God purposed this system, the Law, to give us knowledge of sin (Romans 3:20b). That knowledge, however, weighed on the conscience. People knew they still had what animal’s blood could never take away (Hebrews 9:9). God may have overlooked the sins accumulated from Creation to A.D. 33–but they were still there. We needed a better sacrifice (Hebrews 9:23). We needed perfect blood.

Then it happened: “When the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son,” (Galatians 4:4a).

Jesus was our perfect blood. See how He handled our sin in Colossians 2:13-14:

“When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.”

Consider also this contrast with the animal sacrifices of the Law and Jesus’ sacrifice:

“Nor was it that [Jesus] would offer Himself often, as the high priest enters the holy place year by year with blood that is not his own….But now once at the consummation of the ages He has been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself,” Hebrews 9:25-26.

(Emphasis all mine.)

Christ Jesus used His own perfect blood to redeem us (Hebrews 9:12). Remember how death is our penalty for sin? He paid that which we ought to have paid.  Because of Jesus’ perfect sacrifice we can now say, “Oh death, where is your victory? Oh death, where is your sting?” (1 Corinthians 15:55). Because of Jesus’ perfect sacrifice, God can now say, “Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more,” (Hebrews 10:17). “For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh,” (Romans 8:3). Jesus erased, condemned, and defeated sin for good.

This month Transform tackled the questions: Why is Jesus the only way? Why did He have to die? I know my short blog has done little justice to the deep theology due those topics. I know that I still cannot grasp truly why God ordered sin and salvation through so much pain.  For a moment, though, please think simply with me–as a child would. If you still cannot understand why Jesus had to die, think above that confusion and know this: God so loved the world–He so loved you–that He sent His only Son. Whoever believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life. That, my friend, is why He died.

 

What can wash away my sin?

Nothing but the blood of Jesus;

What can make me whole again?

Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

Oh! precious is the flow

That makes me white as snow;

No other fount I know,

Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

 

Stephanie has been serving the past couple of years with Transform Student Ministries as a Boot Camp and Conference Staffer. Stephanie was also, a part of the Intern Program in 2010.

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03.23.12

[…] greatness of the grace of God in offering His perfect Son in our place.  And in the latest post, Stephanie illustrated through the Scriptures that it was only the imperishable, blemish free blood of the […]

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