In our study we’ve been constantly moving closer and closer to the Holy of Holies. You might say that we started in the outer most regions. We began by talking about how Christ is greater than angels. Then we talked about how Christ was greater than Moses. After that we began talking about the Priests. Last week, we entered into the Tabernacle. And you might say we opened the veil and were allowed to peer into the innermost sanctuary.
The whole of the passage might receive an X rating if it were TV show or movie. In the film industry an X rating is given for those whose content is explicit and shouldn’t be viewed by children. One way you can get an x rating is if you show too much blood.
Well, this passage has excessive amounts of blood in it. The word “blood” is used at least 7 times and it is implied or assumed in pretty much every verse. So, really, this passage is dripping with blood. And the reason that there is so much blood is because we are looking at the sacrificial alter.
It is almost as if the author says, “While we are here in the Holy of Holies, let’s talk sacrifice. Let’s not leave too quickly, because you need to recognize how limited the OT sacrifices were. You need to see just how much better Christ’s blood is in comparison.”
In a few minutes we’ll be singing that hymn “There’s Power in the Blood.” Well, this passage shows you the power that is in the blood. He points out that Christ’s sacrifice is a better sacrifice because it has a power to cleanse, endure, and console.
In verses 18-23 the author recounts how blood was often used for ritualistic cleansings in the OT.
I. It has power to cleanse [18-24]
He begins by talking about that rather nasty scene in the book of Exodus where Moses took blood and sprayed it upon the crowd. What was that all about? Well, God was entering into a covenant with them. And that covenant was ratified by that ceremony. In order for those sinful people to have a relationship with God, they needed to be cleansed of their sin. And that is what the blood symbolized. It was, in essence, a blood bath.
When the blood of that animal landed upon them, it was as if they had become clean. God no longer saw their sin, but instead he saw the blood of that innocent animal. So far as God could tell, they had been cleansed.
Then in verse 21 it goes on to say that Moses bathed just about everything in blood. He covered the tabernacle and all its utensils. Why did he do that? Well, verse 22 says that it was for the purpose of “purifying it.”
The word there for purify is the word “Katharizo.” It is the word from which we get catheter. In the medical world a catheter is a device that cleanses. It takes the gunk out of you. In other words, it purifies your system by purging your body of any gunk that may be in it.
That’s kind of what he was doing with the tabernacle. Moses was, in a symbolic way, cleansing these utentils and showing that if anything came into his presence it needed to have an air of perfect innocence.
But here’s the dilemma. All of that stuff was earthly in nature. It was purified, for sure. But as it says in verse 23, it was dealing with the copies of the heavenly things and not the heavenly things themselves.
That’s why we needed a better sacrifice. That’s why we need the blood of Christ. We needed something that would really and truly purge our sin before the face of God.
And then verse 22 gets at the heart of the matter: if there is no shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness of sin. Blood has to be shed if we want to be forgiven. Our sins have to be purged.
And that’s what the blood of Christ does. It provides us with a real cleansing us from sin. So when God looks upon us, he sees not our sinful life. He sees nothing but the innocence of Christ’s precious blood. It is all washed away by the perfect sacrifice that he made there on the cross.
Now, this is something to which we really need to pay attention. That’s because it is this that distinguishes Christianity among all other religions. There is not one other religion that offers cleansing from sin.
This was evidenced in vivid detail at the First Parliament of World Religions that was held in Chicago back in 1893. One by one representatives of the various world religions took the podium. They gave eloquent speeches in behalf of their beliefs to this great crowd within that building. Dr. Joseph Cook was the representative for the Christian faith, and he was the last to speak. He turned to English literature in order to make his case. He came to the podium rubbing his hands, and he began by saying, “Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you Lady MacBeth. She’s just killed Duncan and her conscience is scarred. She’s rubbing her hands furiously and crying, ‘Out, out! Damned spot out!’” He then turned to each of the religious representatives there and asked them, “What does your religion offer Lady MacBeth?” To the Hindu he turned, and he responded by saying that he offered nothing. He turned to the Muslim Imam and the imam had nothing. No one could offer her conscience any reprieve.
And then he said, “The blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin.”
In Jesus Christ we have one who can offer you real and true cleansing from sin. He makes it possible for you to stand before God because he washes away all your iniquity.
Perhaps you are one who is looking for that cleansing? When you trust Christ, the Scripture says your sins will be purged; never to be counted against you again. This passage affirms that there is a sacrifice that has the power to do just that.
But our passage not only does Christ’s sacrifice have the power to cleanse. It is a better sacrifice because it also has the power to continue.
II. It has power to continue (i.e. endure) [25-26]
It has and enduring power. Unlike the Old Testament sacrifices it did not have to be repeated. That’s the whole point of verses 25-26. In verse 25 it says that “Jesus did not offer himself repeatedly.” And it goes on to contrast this with the high priests who came into the tabernacle year after year with their offerings. And finally in verse 26 tells us that he appeared, “once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.”
Being once for all it means that his sacrifice has an enduring value to it. It does not have to be repeated because it was a perfect sacrifice. As a perfect sacrifice it was effective in accomplishing its purpose. And because it is an effective sacrifice it does not have to be offered ever again. God has accepted it, and, as a result, it continues forever.
Now, let’s suppose that you are sick and you go to the doctor. And after looking you over he makes the diagnosis that you have this or that particular disease. And he says to you, now, you can choose between two different medicines. You can have this one which you have to take everyday for the rest of your life. Or, you can take this pill which will cure you completely and you’ll never have to do it again.
Now which of those two medications will you choose? Which one is better? Obviously it’s the one that has the enduring property.
That’s what is said here about the sacrifice of Christ. It is a better sacrifice because it is a one time deal. It cures you completely and will never run down.
Now, this is where we depart from our friends in the Roman Catholic Church. In the RCC they believe that Christ is repeatedly sacrificed every time they perform the mass.
When we celebrate the Lord’s Supper we are remembering the once for all sacrifice for Christ. We come to a table and we recognize that the bread and the wine remain bread and wine. They are symbols which signify the body and blood of Christ. And when we partake of them we are remembering that Christ has been sacrificed for us and that his gospel continues to be that which nourishes and sustains us from week to week.
But in the RCC believe that the bread and wine are actually changed into the body and blood of Christ. And as a result, every time they celebrate the Lord’s Supper, they believe that Christ is literally sacrificed again. And for this reason they don’t call it a table, they call it an alter. The place where the priest performs the mass is actually called an alter. It is a place where a sacrifice takes place.
And all of that degrades what Christ accomplished there on his cross. And this is part of the reason why I do not understand the appeal of Roman Catholicism among many today. Recently there has been a movement where people are leaving the protestant faith in order to enter into communion with the RCC.
But why would you do that? I recognize that Protestantism has its pitfalls, but at least we can have the assurance that what Christ has done is not going to fizzle out or fail us in any way. That’s essentially what the mass says though. Christ’s work isn’t effective enough. It doesn’t last. It has to be repeated because it is like a flashlight whose batteries eventually run out.
And this is part of the reason why Catholics cannot and do not have assurance of their salvation. As protestants we recognize that Christ’s blood is ever before the face of God and we therefore know that our salvation can never be revoked.
Let me add too that this is one of the reasons why we encourage you young people not to get into a relationship with someone who is a Catholic. Catholics may fall under the umbrella of those who are called Christian, but they do not understand the essential elements of the gospel. And this is just one example of that.
And hopefully you realize why Protestants have traditionally called this abominable. You read the Reformers especially and you can hear that they used some rather striking language when it comes to describing how detestable a thing this re-sacrifice is.
It is one thing to sacrifice an animal repeatedly, but it is a completely different thing to sacrifice Christ repeatedly.
Hopefully you see how repulsive this is. And hopefully you see how valuable a thing it is for your faith that Christ has been offered once and for all. It allows you to remain at peace because you know that his sacrifice will never lose any of its power.
But because this blood has the power to cleanse and endure, it also has power to console. This is brought out in our passage.
III. It has power to console [27-28]
In verses 27-28 we are reminded that one day we will all be judged. We are reminded that Jesus Christ will come again. He has entered heaven, and one day he will leave heaven in order to bring his saving graces to completion.
Now you see what it says there in verse 27. It says, “It is appointed for man do die once and then face judgment.” This is reminding us that there are no second chances once you die. You have been given so many days here on earth, and during this life you need to put your faith in Christ. Because once your time is up, you’re going to face God and enter into your eternal destiny.
If there is one thing that is repulsive to people it is that there is a God who judges. As a result, there are a lot of people who play with this. Mormons will tell you that after this life God will give you another chance to put your faith in him. They say that God’s so loving that he’d never send anyone to hell. But even after you die, he loves you so much, that he’ll give you another chance.
And there are a lot of people today who, because of the influence of Eastern religions, are really into reincarnation. They say that after this life you’ll come back as a bug or a cow or something. But that’s not right. God’s word tells us that it is appointed for man to die once, and then face judgment.
Now, if you do not have faith in Christ, that should be rather disturbing. You’re going to face God in your sin. And, as a result, he’ll consign you to hell.
But you see how this passage consoles. If you are a believer, you have no fear of being judged or condemned. The second coming of Christ is a glorious thing for you. If you have trusted Christ as your sacrifice, you have been cleansed. And when he comes back, he’s not coming to judge you, he’s coming to save you. All of your sins have been put away. You’ve already been acquitted of your offenses and you know that death is a doorway to everlasting joy, and not eternal misery.
One of the most interesting books I have ever read was a book which bore the title, “The Dying Testimonies of Infidels.” It was a book that recounted the last days and hours of various unbelievers. Some of them were rather famous, such as Voltaire. And the book’s purpose was to show how unbelieving people had no consolation in death. More than that, it showed how their dying moments were characterized by great anxiety. As the hour of their passing came closer and closer, he shows how these people became more and more restless and uneasy.
In contrast to this, the believer has great consolation and, when it comes time for him to die, he typically passes into eternity with a demeanor of peace.
I once had a minister friend recount something similar from his personal experience. He said that over the course of his ministry he had opportunity to sit at the bedside of both believers and unbelievers. And he said that typically believers demonstrated a calmness in their last hours. He expressed that he never liked being around unbelievers in their dying moments because they typically had some signs of distress. He actually said that he liked it when they were drugged and because it typically relieved many of those signs.
His analysis was this: He said that it seemed to appear that you could tell that they were seeing the signs of meeting God.
These of course were accounts based on various people’s experiences. And we know that these kinds of symptoms might not characterize every situation. But they do serve to show us how we who believe can be consoled in the face of death. When we are called to appear before our Maker, we need not have fear if we are trusting in the sacrifice of Christ.
In 1833 there was a great meteor shower that lit up the sky. There were many people who were frightened by the event because it lit up the sky in such a fantastic way. You can imagine what the frenzy may feel like if you all of a sudden looked up and saw balls of fire streaking towards the earth.
To many people it was a sign of the end of the age. They began to be terrified that the day of Christ’s return had come and the judgment was at hand. In one house a nervous mother went in to awaken her boy, saying, “Sandy, Sandy, get up! The day of Judgment has come!” The boy rose instantly upon his bed. He leapt to his feet and excitedly cried out, “Glory to God! I am ready!”
Unlike his mother, this boy understood what Christ’s sacrifice had done for him. He knew he had been cleansed and he knew that this cleansing would endure. And as a result, he was not threatened by the day of Judgment. He may be consoled because Christ had become to him a Savior, and not a Judge.
When you trust in Christ, you can experience the same. When you trust in Christ, you can know there is power in the blood.
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Matt is blessed to be a husband, father, and pastor in Ashland, Ohio.