Friday after the Sixteenth Sunday after Trinity Sunday
Scripture: Hebrews 10:1-34 (NKJV)
10:1 For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect. 2 For then would they not have ceased to be offered? For the worshipers, once purified, would have had no more consciousness of sins. 3 But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. 4 For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins.
5 Therefore, when He came into the world, He said:
“Sacrifice and offering You did not desire, but a body You have prepared for Me. 6 In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin You had no pleasure. 7 Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come—in the volume of the book it is written of Me—to do Your will, O God.'”
8 Previously saying, “Sacrifice and offering, burnt offerings, and offerings for sin You did not desire, nor had pleasure in them” (which are offered according to the law), 9 then He said, “Behold, I have come to do Your will, O God.” He takes away the first that He may establish the second. 10 By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
11 And every priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, 13 from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool. 14 For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.
15 But the Holy Spirit also witnesses to us; for after He had said before,
16 “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the LORD: I will put My laws into their hearts, and in their minds I will write them,”
17 then He adds,
“Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.”
18 Now where there is remission of these, there is no longer an offering for sin.
19 Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, 21 and having a High Priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, 25 not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.
26 For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries. 28 Anyone who has rejected Moses’ law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know Him who said, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. And again, “The LORD will judge His people.” 31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
32 But recall the former days in which, after you were illuminated, you endured a great struggle with sufferings: 33 partly while you were made a spectacle both by reproaches and tribulations, and partly while you became companions of those who were so treated; 34 for you had compassion on me in my chains, and joyfully accepted the plundering of your goods, knowing that you have a better and an enduring possession for yourselves in heaven.
“All Scripture ought to be distributed into these two topics, the Law and the promises” (Apology of the Augsburg Confession, Article IV:5). Today’s text divides the old and new covenants according to these topics. The author speaks of the old covenant fulfilling the function of the Law, while the new covenant is that of the promises of the Christ.
The sacrifices of the old covenant did not pardon sins. Far from it, those sacrifices were a constant reminder of sins. In this way, the old covenant functioned as the mirror of the Law, which serves to show sinners their sinfulness and need for a Savior. The people of Israel offered sacrifices because the Law required it, knowing that this act in itself did not forgive their sins. The Law reveals our sinful state, but it offers no solution.
In the new covenant one sacrifice sufficed to cover the sins of all men. “There has been only one propitiatory sacrifice in the world, namely, the death of Christ (Apology, Article XXIV:22). This one sacrifice was done on our behalf because we could not fulfill the Law’s demands. All those who believe in the Christ receive the forgiveness which He won: this is the promise of the new covenant. No work of ours can fulfill the demands of the Law, let alone earn forgiveness. This is why salvation is a gift; it had to be won for us by another’s sacrifice. Christ has fulfilled the Law, has paid for our sins, and has risen from the dead. Those who believe in Him receive forgiveness and eternal life. This is the Gospel.
We pray: Lord, we pray Thee that Thy grace may always go before and follow after us and make us continually to be given to all good works; through Jesus Christ. Amen.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.