… by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices which can never take away sins. But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God. Since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool, because by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy. (verses 10-14)
“It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins” (verse 4).
And yet, in Old Testament times, such sacrifices were carried out continuously, as required by the law. Again and again. They served as a shadowy picture of spiritual realities, giving a continual reminder of sins, as well as the pressing need for guilt to be cleansed away.
So the priests carried on their work, day after day after day. Sacrifice after sacrifice. Theirs was an endless, ongoing cycle. It must have been exhausting, both for the priests and for everyone else.
What relief, then, to finally hear the words “once for all.” Again, to hear the words “for all time.” Such is the nature of the sacrifice offered for us by Jesus.
All the previous sacrifices – endlessly offered – could “never take away sins.” Guilt remained. The stain was not removed. “The gifts and sacrifices being offered were not able to clear the conscience of the worshiper” (Hebrews 9:9).
But now Jesus himself has stepped in as the priest who offers the sacrifice for us “once for all.” Stretching the imagery to its impossible limits, Jesus is not only the priest offering the perfect, all-sufficient sacrifice, but he himself is in fact that perfect, once-for-all offering. It is through his own body that the sacrifice is made – the reality echoes his words spoken at the Last Supper as he took bread and wine and said, “This is my body … This is my blood.”
And it is by this perfect sacrifice that “we have been made holy.”What a remarkable statement. Yes, the sin that was clinging to us has been washed away – what relief! But stating it even more intensely, we have been “made holy” – we have been declared to be in right standing with Almighty God himself, free from all unrighteousness, finally able (in Christ alone) to respond to the Lord’s own summons: “Be holy, because I am holy” (1 Peter 1:16).
Previously, there was an unending hamster-wheel of sacrifices, which sought to batten-down the ever-rising guilt of sin. That endless cycle is over. Finished. Completed. Our great High Priest has done it. The final sacrifice has been made. In him, holiness is ours. Our conscience has been freed. He has perfectly completed the work.
Praise his name.
O, Lord Jesus. Great High Priest. Perfect sacrifice, cleansing me from every sin, once for all. You have ended the endless burden of guilt. You have declared me holy. You have made me right with the Father. Thank you. Praise your name.
Reflect: Simply bask in the wonder of the burden lifted, the dirt washed clean, the guilt removed, and the declaration “Holy” ringing in your ears. All of it accomplished – fully, completely, once for all. Receive it. Give thanks.