“…how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.”
- Hebrews 9:14
We’re reaching a critical point in Hebrews. The author has made the case that Jesus is better than the angels, the prophets, Moses, Joshua, and the Levitical priesthood. He has tried to explain to his Jewish Christian audience that Jesus is the fulfillment of everything they had been longing for.
Are you convinced that Jesus is better? Would you be convinced if you were in their shoes?
Is this Gospel – this Jesus – worth following even in the face of persecution? In the face of the threat of death?
If you’re not there yet – if you remained unconvinced – keep listening. God has more to say through the author of Hebrews.
After reading in the previous chapter about the beautiful new covenant Jesus has ushered in, in this week's passage, we read about Jesus as the better sacrifice through descriptions taken straight from the Old Testament. Although you and I don’t talk about tabernacles and sacrifices often, the Jewish Christians did. They understood this language intimately. What they didn’t understand, though, was how these images had been filled to overflowing in Jesus.
The symbols in the tabernacle and temple, the sacrifices offered, the laws followed – these could not cleanse them internally. They couldn’t save them! All of these things were pointing to the only One who would: Jesus Christ.
These rituals had dealt with the externals, but Jesus came to cleanse our conscience from the inside out and to save us fully – once and for all.
Every human is born with a conscience. But for the person without Christ, the conscience is constantly condemning. There is nowhere for them to take their failures, and we all have failures. What do you do with your guilt without belief in Jesus? You wear it like a robe. It accumulates, and you limp under its weight, with nowhere to lay such a massive burden down.
But here’s the thing: when we become believers, our conscience is redeemed and the Holy Spirit points us toward the path of life, which is serving God forever. We are brought into the marvelous light of His kingdom, because He bore the burden of our guilt. He ransomed us out of slavery to our sin and shame. He voluntarily put on the blood-stained robe that was too heavy for us. He secured our eternal innocence by shedding his blood, making the sacrifice of goats and lambs unnecessary forevermore. On one day, at one point in history, Jesus willingly laid down his life and shed his blood once and for all.
For the Jewish Christian, this was extraordinary. Is it to us? When we sing, “Lord I Need You,” do we understand the depth of our need, the breadth of the sacrifice and the overwhelming nature of the love it took to make such a sacrifice?
Let’s be blown away this week by the goodness of Jesus. Let’s not carry the burdens He has offered to take for us, because He doesn’t just save us from something. He saves us for something. He purifies our conscience "from dead works to serve the Living God." When we attempt to put our robes of guilt back on, we are forfeiting freedom He means for us to enjoy and works He has prepared for us to do!
“For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” – Galatians 5:1
Let's be convinced Jesus is better.
See you Sunday!