By Collin Ross
My wife is an outstanding cook. When she’s in the kitchen the whole house smells of warm and tasty things. It is hard not to linger at her side as she works. But every now and then, I’m awarded a small taste of the delectable dish she’s preparing—a tiny morsel that hints at the good thing to come.
According to the author of Hebrews, the sacrifices that were made in the temple on behalf of the people’s sins were like tiny morsels. They were “a shadow of the good things to come” (Hebrews 10:1). That good thing, of course, is the perfect sacrifice that Jesus Christ made upon the cross to eternally atone for our sins and wash our hearts clean of its stain. What the priests tried in vain to do with sacrifice after sacrifice, Jesus accomplished once and for all upon the cross. As it is written, “But this man, after offering one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God” (v.12).
And yet, how many times do we follow in the footsteps of the priest who “stands day after day ministering and offering the same sacrifices time after time, which can never take away sins” (v.11)? Insanity has been defined as doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting different results. But that is a rhythm that many of us know so well. We strive to make ourselves presentable to God in predictable ways—by making good, moral decisions, maintaining a quiet time, attending church, staying above reproach at work, etc. These are the sacrifices we offer, again and again, hoping in vain that they will make us worthy to stand before God.
But these will never accomplish what we hope. They are shadows of the good thing. What we want is for the Lord never again to remember our sins. What we want is for God to write his law on our hearts and minds. This is not a pie-in-the-sky sort of dream, but rather it is readily available to every one of us. Not through a sacrifice that we offer to God, but through the one offered up for us by Jesus, the Christ.
Notice the temporal language that the author uses to describe Christ’s work on our behalf. We have been sanctified through Jesus Christ “once for all time” (v.10). By His offering, we are “perfected forever” (v.14). Jesus will “never again remember” our sin (v.17). There is every indication that the forgiveness that Christ offers is lasting. It’s not going anywhere.
We must not mistake the shadows for the real thing, or we will miss out on the joyful peace that is to be found in Jesus. His perfect and eternal sacrifice on the cross is more than sufficient to wash away our sin and make us worthy to stand in the presence of God. Let the uncertainty fall by the wayside in view of God’s amazing grace.
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