Posted by: gbake783 | June 8, 2011

Hebrews 9:11-14

The writer of Hebrews has a knack for presenting rich theology that strengthens Christian foundations, which is well-illustrated in Hebrews 9:11-14. Here we encounter heavy themes: Christ’s high priesthood, redemption, multiple allusions to Israel’s sacrificial system, the eternal Spirit, Christ’s once-for-all sacrifice, and so forth. Why? So that we (1) can approach God with a clean conscience and (2) serve Him. Theological apprehension in this passage leads not to dry orthodoxy nor to overanalyzing life’s minutiae, but to assurance of intimate fellowship that leads to faithful service. Hebrews 9:11-14 bolsters the most basic elements of our Christian walk.

With this individual paragraph, the writer removes every impediment to our divine access by presenting an astonishing set of contrasts. Christ’s sacrifice was heavenly, not earthly; sinless, not defiled; once for all, not repeated. Christ, the great High Priest, offered not the blood of an unthinking animal, but His own body and blood at the direction of the eternal Spirit.

The result is our full and free access to the throne of grace. Despite our guilty consciences telling us we have sinned too frequently or too severely to approach God, no amount of confessed sin can keep us from God’s presence. We too often feel that when we disappoint God with bad behavior that our presence before Him becomes awkward at best, broken at worst. But it shouldn’t be that way. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

We must not let guilt keep us from an intimate relationship with Christ. Even though we’re careful not to minimize sin, we defeat the entire purpose of Jesus ministry if we allow confessed guilt to hinder our relationship with Christ – afterall, Jesus Himself said, “For even the Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).

Throughout my undergrad years, I had the privilege of ministering in three different nursing homes on Sunday mornings. One resident in particular grabbed my attention – he was a World War II veteran from upstate New York. We became friends almost immediately – he loved telling war stories; I loved listening. Over three years, Sunday after Sunday, I spoke with my friend about Christ. And even though my friend was Jewish, he became convinced that Jesus was the Messiah the Old Testament anticipated. I truly believed that my friend’s salvation was simply a matter of time.

One day he asked me to close the door, he wanted to share with me a secret he’d harbored for years. He choked back tears while recounting a war story. He and his platoon were startled by a massive movement of German soldiers during the Battle of the Bulge. Caught unawares and unprepared, the best they could do was hunker down in hastily constructed fox holes. For the better part of two days they squatted in those bunkers wondering when their time would end – my friend was convinced he was going to die in that French field. But, as often happens in warfare, momentum quickly shifted. American tank regiments and reserves broke through the previously impregnable German lines. My friend sprung out of his bunker and sprinted toward the machine gun nest that had caused him and his mates so much grief the last two days. A young German soldier popped up, surrendered, and ran toward my friend unarmed with his hands in the air. And my friend shot him, killing him instantly.

My friend was never punished. Never court-martialed. But he lived for fifty years with what can only be described as irrepressible guilt. Every day – even the best of days – were invaded by thoughts of that young German soldier. My friend celebrated the birth of a child – how many children would the German have by now? My friend enjoyed a day on a catamaran with his family – how would the German be enjoying a day with his family?

No longer attempting to suppress the tears, my friend sobbed, “I’m a murderer. Jesus will not accept me.”

We reached an impasse with my friend. I showed him from Scripture how even murderers accepted Christ and went on to do great things. I begged him to accept Christ’s free and endless grace. But to my knowledge, my friend never did accept Christ’s free gift.

The saddest thing of all is that my friend was deeply mistaken. He could have found forgiveness under Christ’s blood. No sin is too great or too frequent to find pardon, “where sin increased, grace abounded all the more” (Rom. 5:20). Christ’s eternal sacrifice cannot be overcome.  There is no sin immune to the blood’s cleansing power.

Hebrews 9:11-14 informs us that Christ wants us to approach God with a clean conscience through His sacrifice made in the heavenly Temple once for all.


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