By Nick Batzig
In a letter written to Jean-Baptiste Le Roy in 1789, Benjamin Franklin made the now famous statement:
“Our new Constitution is now established, and has an appearance that promises permanency; but in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”
Death is the inevitable end for each of us. For many, the thought of death is terrifying because our consciences bear witness to the truth that after we die there awaits a day of judgment in which we will be held accountable for all we have ever done. The Christian need not fear death, though. The Scriptures bear witness to the certainty of death and judgment in order to hold out hope for the forgiveness of sins through the death of the God-Man, Jesus Christ, and His subsequent return on the last day, when the dead in Christ are raised to new life in Him.
The writer of Hebrews emphasizes the greatness of the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. When contrasting it with the weakness of the old covenant’s sacrificial system, the writer highlights the need for the continual sacrificing of calves and goats. The repetition of these sacrifices indicated that sin remained. If these sacrifices had been able to permanently take away sin, they would have ceased. By contrast, “[Jesus] has appeared one time, at the end of the ages, for the removal of sin by the sacrifice of himself” (Hebrews 9:26). He cannot and will never need to be re-sacrificed. There is permanence to the one sacrifice of Christ on the cross for the sins of His people.
In order to drive home the point of the one-time, definitive nature of Jesus’s sacrificial death on the cross, the writer explains the mechanics of death and redemption. He sums up the history of redemption in the following way: “And just as it is appointed for people to die once—and after this, judgment—so also Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him” (Hebrews 9:27–28). The one-time, definitive sacrifice of Jesus secures resurrection glory for His people when Jesus returns.
This precious truth has huge implications for our souls today. When we look to the crucified Son of God, we are assured that He has fully paid for our sins. They all have been nailed to the cross—nothing more is required. His one-time sacrifice for sin means we need not fear death and judgment. For the believer, there is nothing more sure than the finished work of Christ on the cross, and His coming again in glory for our salvation. This gives us great encouragement and strength to persevere with hope.
Written by Nick Batzig