11 But when Christ came as high priest of the good things that are now already here, he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not made with human hands, that is to say, is not a part of this creation. 12 He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption. 13 The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. 14 How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!
Hebrews is written to Jewish Christians who followed Jesus as their long-promised Messiah, but following Jesus was beginning to make things very hard for them. They’re thinking it might be better to go back to the comfortable way things were before. Ironically, these comfortable “safe” old ways – the temple with its daily sacrifices – would soon be destroyed (in 70AD).
This passage draws some stark contrasts between Jesus and the way things were. What Jesus does is what fundamentally changes everything, not what we do. He brings us into direct relationship with God himself in the place of his actual presence, not just into symbols of his presence (like the tabernacle) that are made by people. Jesus achieves once and for all what the endlessly repeated sacrifices could not. Only his blood truly cleanses us deep down to our hearts. Our actions bring death, but Jesus brings us into relationship with “the living God”.
Jesus changes everything. This includes changing us. Jesus calls us into a relationship, but it’s not a passive relationship. He sets us free to serve the living God (v14). Jesus transforms our inadequate actions into precious service of God. We become free to please him, to work with him in what he’s doing. Faith in Jesus is not passive dependence but active participation with him.
Holy Spirit, what are you doing today? I want to play might part in whatever it is. I want to serve and please you today.
Written by David Cornell