Once sins are taken care of for good, there’s no longer any need to offer sacrifices for them.
Sounds simple enough, right? If you were to pay my car insurance bill before the first, I might do a lot of things but paying the bill anyhow would be the last reaction you might expect. It really is crazy to think about a whole collection of people working to be good enough to receive a gift, but that is who we are as the church. It is nothing to get up at arms about, at least to where we fight with each other, because the people of God have had this same problem since Paul had to blast the Galatian Super-Apostles. We spend our precious time and energy for the things of the Spirit on planning and working to pay back the debt that we owe to God. So much of our God-given life used to deny the gift, disregard the giver and cheat ourselves out of our prize.
Once for all. That has a great ring to it. God himself comes down and officiates the final sacrifice. Who knew it could be that simple? Who knew there could be such finality in this messy world? Who knew that this action could really set things right between a perfect God and a collaboration of hurting, broken, lustful, insecure and whiny people? Who knew that this holy, perfect, just, demanding, perfect and great God would satisfy his own justice for a bunch of criminals like us?
God, the High Priest. This is what Jesus has become for us. He stands between the finite and the infinite. He stands between the holy and the common. He stands between the righteous and the sinner. He stands between us and God. He stands and offers the full price for an unfaithful people.
And as beautiful and important a it is that God himself is Priest, it is the substance of the sacrifice that makes all the difference.
When I was in college I played baseball with a freshman third baseman. It may sound strange to say but the dude had some soft hands. In baseball lingo that means that if he could get to the ball he would make the out. If you can hit at all, some soft hands will guarantee you a spot on a team. There was only one hang-up with him. He had a silly little glove that must have been his twelve-year-old birthday gift. If the ball stopped in his mitt is was nothing short of a miracle. Everybody wondered why a kid with so much potential had a hard time corralling the easiest of groundballs. Everybody, that is, except for our coach, Randy. Randy told him It’s like you’re going to war with a bb gun! As it turns out, even the best third baseman needs a good glove to work with.
So when we find out that Jesus is not only the Priest who makes the sacrifice, but also the sacrifice itself, we get a picture of the finality of the sacrifice. Once for all. God sacrifices his own self for his people. Stunning.
How could we be expected to understand this all at once? This is the reality that changes reality. We need time to process. We need space to apply this to our everyday lives. As we all know, Rome wasn’t built in a day, neither are our hearts rebuilt in a day.
You see, if we are convinced that God expects us to repay his gift- or even to “make good” on it- we can get to work right away. Stop sinning and start living right. But if we are interested in living in the freedom of God’s gift of himself, it may take some time. The good news is that God himself holds this time in his hands.
In the meantime, we live in this new way- a way of joyful obedience to his commands, not under compulsion to pay him back. The road of life is always attended with difficulty but our Priest stands and offers us rest day in and day out.
The God-Man has paid the price once for all.
There is no longer any need to offer sacrifices.
Just bring yourself to him.
He will reward the seeker.
He will give you rest.
He is for you.