11 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. 12 But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, 13 and since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool. 14 For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy. 15 The Holy Spirit also testifies to us about this. First he says: 16 “This is the covenant I will make with them after that time, says the Lord. I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds.” 17 Then he adds: “Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.” 18 And where these have been forgiven, sacrifice for sin is no longer necessary.
This week, as I write, the Rev Billy Graham has died. I heard him speak at Randwick Racecourse in 1979 when I had only been a Christian for about a year. He spoke a confronting a powerful message on forgiveness – available to everyone who repents, loves Jesus and declares him Lord. He spoke about the depth of God’s love, that even someone as evil as Adolf Hitler could be forgiven by God.
The writer of Hebrews makes it clear in this passage that our forgiveness was bought by the perfect sacrifice of Jesus Christ. The new covenant described here, which guarantees a new intimacy with God (v16) and the complete and effective forgiveness of all sin through Jesus’ death (v12,14).
Don’t go back to the old way of sacrificing he says in effect, that never dealt with sin. Jesus’ sacrifice did what all those sacrifices could never do – it achieved atonement of sin.
His sacrifice is free to all. As Jesus himself said at the Supper with his disciples, this is a covenant sealed in his blood “for you and for many”, including for all future, and past sin.
We should never put conditions or limitations on this complete forgiveness. God doesn’t.
Dear Jesus, I’m in debt to you for the sacrifice you made when you died on the cross. You freed me from sin, with its guilt, and regrets, and made me new. There is no turning back, and your Holy Spirit guides me everyday. Amen
Written by Claire Moore