Daily Update #201

Today’s Readings:  Hebrews 10:1-10.    Psalm 40:1-4, 7-10.    Mark 3:31-35.

‘There is no other religion in which one great happening brings salvation through the centuries and throughout the world. This is the distinctive doctrine of Christianity’. (Leon Morris)

I hope that you are finding the truths set out in Hebrews to be helpful as we bash on in our uncomfortable ‘here and now’. Hebrews certainly helps us to understand better more of God’s long term plan of salvation and more of what Jesus achieved for humanity on the cross. I am most struck by the final three words in our reading from Hebrews today – “once for all” (10:10). This lovely phrase was also used in yesterday’s reading – “Now He (Jesus) has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself” (9:26). There is a resounding and victorious finality here that reminds me of the last three words uttered by Jesus just before He died on the cross at Calvary – “It is finished” (John 19:30). In all the agony and cruelty of His death, He knew that by obeying God’s will and sacrificing His life like this He was completing God’s rescue mission. What a Saviour we have!

Hebrews 10 reminds us that the old Jewish system of laws, rituals and the making of sacrifices to God had failed to remove the unease in sinners’ consciences, and the dire consequences of their sins. The law was therefore “only a shadow of the good things that are coming, not the realities themselves” (10:1). The year after year repetitions of the Jewish sacrificial system proved that there was a total lack of certainty about the removal of sin and about God’s forgiveness. This is not new teaching to that of the Old Testament. For example, King David wrote in Psalm 40, quoted here as if the very words of Jesus his descendant (v5-7), “sacrifice and offering you did not desire.” The repeated us of sacrifices was actually ‘a reminder of sin. Far from purifying a man, they remind him that he is not purified and that his sins still stand between him and God’ (William Barclay).

The writer to the Hebrews shows us how, by willingly giving up His life, Jesus resolved for ever the huge problem of the law and endless sacrifices failing to “make perfect those who draw near to worship” (10:1). By obeying God’s will, and setting aside His own rights Jesus not only defeated sin and the spiritual death it causes; He also opened up the way for us to please God and come close to Him. With our sins forgiven and our lives cleaned up, we can now enjoy fellowship with God as His children and stay in His loving presence for ever. As verse 10 concludes, “by that will (God’s), we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

So as we face repeated lockdowns and the loss of much long-enjoyed worldly security, we can all still look to a wonderful, secure and certain future. This is all down to our Lord’s obedience to His Father’s will and His once for all victory on the cross against sin, the world and the devil. The realities of the “good things that are coming” (v1) for each person who trusts in Jesus include: the certainty of sins forgiven; the promise of eternal life with Him (with a reserved place in heaven); membership of His Church; and the Holy Spirit enabling us to become more like Jesus. This is truly awesome!

Today’s Prayer: Dear Father, thank you for all the good things you have planned for each one of us. Thank you Lord Jesus for obeying your Father’s will and sacrificing your life for us. Please help us to trust you in these difficult and uncertain times and to become more and more like you. We ask you to draw especially close to all those we know who are in particular need. “May all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you” (Psalm 40:16). Amen.