The Perfect Sacrifice
Open Your Bible
Hebrews 10:1-18, Psalm 40:1-17, 1 Peter 2:24
When we see a shadow, we know something of substance is connected to it. Our awareness of a shadow compels us to look for the corresponding substantial reality. For the author of Hebrews, the sanctuary and the Torah (the Law) were both shadows that could be traced back to good heavenly realities (Hebrews 8:5, 10:1).
These images of shadow and substance contribute to the author’s developing claim that there is something radically new happening through Jesus Christ; something still firmly rooted in and connected to Old Testament rituals.
Chapter 10 recaps the carefully detailed descriptions we read yesterday in Hebrews 9. This literary repetition represents what happened in the sanctuary day after heart-wrenching day, as the human priest sprinkled the blood of animal sacrifices on the altar. The messy process was painful and blood-drenched. It caused worshipers to come face-to-face with images of pain and suffering, powerful metaphors for the grim consequences for others of their sins. Even though the repeated process could never do away with the guilty verdict, this visceral reminder was vital. It also pointed forward.
That all of this had been dealt with once and for all was a stunning new reality to the audience of Hebrews. Writing to an audience wholly steeped in the necessity of the ongoing temple ritual, the author had to repeat this multiple times. It took time to reconfigure their worldview. Yet it was important to clarify that this was not foreign to the Jewish tradition. In Hebrews 10:6–7, the author quotes Psalm 40, words Jesus Christ repeated as well: “I have come to do your will.” Then, in verses 16–17, the author quotes the prophet Jeremiah’s promise of the new covenant. Until this point, the people’s obedience had been the absent ingredient. But in Jesus, our sins are forgiven forever—period. And the encouraging add-on is that He is ever-present in our continuing process of being made holy (Hebrews 10:14).