Greetings in the Name of Christ Jesus our Lord.
As this is Holy Week, instead of just doing my weekly meditation on the previous Sunday's Epistle, I am going to do one for the Epistle readings given for each day (yes, we could have a service every day from now through the Wednesday after Easter).
Today, the reading is Hebrews 9:11-15, which is as follows:
"But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) He entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of His own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.
"Therefore He is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant."
These things of Holy Week, the things we will ponder this week - they are necessary. Unlike the people who first heard the book of Hebrews, we are used to living in New Testament times. They were not - they were used to the Temple and the Sacrifices and the like - and so they understood that one did not just cavalierly saunter up to God. Sinful man could only approach God covered and protected by sacrifice - made pure so as to survive His most holy presence. Thus, for many, the hardest thing to understand in the New Testament was the idea that there no longer remained the daily sacrifices in the Temple, that these were made obsolete.
Today, we have the opposite problem. We have forgotten the true cost of our sin, forgotten what it truly means that the wages of sin is death. You couldn't forget that in the Old Testament. You went to the Temple, and it was a bloody place - there was the death of animals all over the place. You have a child, and it means there will be a sacrifice of an animal. The wages of sin is death.
We can forget that. The object lesson about sin that sacrifices were are long past - fulfilled and completed in Christ. The problem is when we come to Holy Week, when we ponder our Lord's Sacrifice, it can seem too much, it can seem so shocking.
It is not too much - it is precisely what is needed to purify us. It is not too shocking - it is precisely appropriate for what our sin deserved. With our Lord's passion, we are brought to understand once again the depth of our sin, it's weight, it's burden, since we see Christ take upon Himself the punishment due us all.
Yet, in this we also see our victory - we see that He has borne our burden, that He has lifted the weight of sin from off our shoulders and placed in upon His own - we see why we now, unlike the folks of the Old Testament, can so easily and happily approach God. Because we do so in Christ - we come not covered in the blood of bulls and goats, but in the Blood of Christ Jesus - eternally purified. And we carry this with us wherever we go - sanctified and prepared for His own works of righteousness. This is why we begin our services in the Name of Christ, our prayers end in the Name of Christ. . . because our lives are lived in Christ and His redemption.
See and know the value of the gift you have received in your redemption, and delight and rejoice in the forgiveness and sanctification God has given unto you.
In the Name of Christ the Crucified.