Hebrews 9:15-28 • May 3, 2023 • w1400
Pastor John Miller continues our survey through the book of Hebrews with a message titled “Christ Superior Priesthood” through Hebrews 9:15-28.
9:15 And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance. 16 For where there is a testament, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. 17 For a testament is in force after men are dead, since it has no power at all while the testator lives. 18 Therefore not even the first covenant was dedicated without blood. 19 For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and goats, with water, scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, 20 saying, "This is the blood of the covenant which God has commanded you." 21 Then likewise he sprinkled with blood both the tabernacle and all the vessels of the ministry. 22 And according to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission. 23 Therefore it was necessary that the copies of the things in the heavens should be purified with these, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. 24 For Christ has not entered the holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us; 25 not that He should offer Himself often, as the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood of another-- 26 He then would have had to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now, once at the end of the ages, He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. 27 And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, 28 so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.
As I said, we are kind of in the middle of a section, we stopped short last week. In the first 14 verses of Hebrews 9, we saw that there’s a better priesthood in Christ, there’s a better sanctuary, a better covenant, and a better sacrifice. Well, tonight takes all those elements and rolls them into one section. It’s actually working toward verses 10-17 where it wraps up this section, Christ a better Priest.
The writer of Hebrews is writing to Jewish believers in Jesus who are in danger of going back from Christ to Judaism. The book is really pretty simple in that it’s a deep book but it’s basically saying, “Why would you go back to Judaism when you have the fulfillment of that which it spoke of and prefigured in type? Why would you go back to that which is symbolic and ceremonial instead of leaving Christ, which is the substance, which is the real thing?” We’re coming to these different sections (we haven’t got one yet until Hebrews 10:18) where we have another warning section of not to go back but to press forward in our walk with the Lord.
I want to give you an outline with three sections, if you’re taking notes. They’re not on the screen, you’ve got to watch for them in the text. The first is verses 15-17. What we see here is the death of Christ is necessary or the necessity of the death of Christ. Follow with me beginning in verse 15. The writer of Hebrews says, “And for this cause he,”—which is a reference to Jesus—“is the mediator of the new testament.” Whenever you find the word “testament” here, the very same Greek word translated “testament” is the word also translated covenant. It’s the same concept of the testament or a covenant. So, “…he,”—that is, Jesus—“is the mediator of the new testament,”—or covenant—“that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament,”—or covenant—“they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance. 16 For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. 17 For a testament is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth.” Go back with me to verse 15.
The writer of Hebrews tells us in verse 15, “And for this cause,” so basically because Jesus is a better Priest, because He is a better sanctuary, because He has a better covenant, because He has a better sacrifice, that little phrase “for this cause,” reaches back in Hebrews 9:1-14, and it says, “…he is the mediator of the new testament,”—or the new covenant. The word “mediator” actually means one who intervenes between two and makes peace. Jesus is standing between you, a sinner, and a holy God; and He mediates between the two, He brings us back. The word “priest” actually is the concept of bridge builder, so Jesus is the Mediator. The Bible says, “For there is one…mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” Jesus is the One who mediates or intervenes between us and God, and it says, “…that by means of death,”—that word “death” is referring to His crucifixion on the cross to establish the new covenant. He brought about, “…the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament,”—that’s a reference to His death on the cross retroactive, going back and actually bringing forgiveness and redemption for Old Testament saints.
This gets a little bit hard to grasp or understand, but basically when Jesus died on the cross, He also paid for the sins of those who in the Old Testament, before the cross, looked forward to His death and believed in Him so that they, by faith in Christ, were forgiven even though He hadn’t yet come to die for them. In a sense, the atoning sacrifices in the Old Testament formed a covering, which is the word kaphar. Jesus, when He died, kind of retroactively as you go back, actually paid the penalty so that they could be forgiven for their sins.
Turn with me real quick, I just want you to see it, to Romans 3:24-25. There’s a reference to the same concept, “Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption,”—the same concept we have in Hebrews 9:15, that He died to redeem us—“…that is in Christ Jesus,”—and notice verse 25—“Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God.” Those in the Old Testament who believed in God’s promise of Messiah in faith when Jesus came and died on the cross, His atoning sacrifice brought redemption for them, so even the Old Testament saints were saved by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ.
Notice “the redemption” there. Our salvation is described in many different terms, but this is one of the most beautiful in the Bible in that Jesus is our Redeemer. The concept comes from the slave market. They would go into the market and buy a slave. They could buy the slave and it would become their property. Once they became their property, they actually owned that slave, they could release that slave and let him go free. The word “redemption” there means to buy in the marketplace, to take out of the marketplace, and to set free. In that culture, whenever they would buy a slave and set the slave free, the slave had the choice to go on serving the master that had bought and given them freedom. If he did that, he would actually become what’s called a doulos or what’s known as a bondslave. He was a slave by choice. It’s a picture of our salvation—we were enslaved to sin, Jesus came from heaven, and purchased us with His blood. The price of our redemption is the blood of Christ, and the next section we look at we’re going to find a whole lot of references to the blood of Christ. In this section, the phrase is “death,” and he switches the word “death” to “blood,” but that redemption is He bought us.
If you’re a Christian, you’re not your own, you’ve been, “…bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body…which are God’s,” and remember that He took you out of the slave market of sin and set you free. Amen? Whom the Son sets free, is—what?—free indeed; but you’re free not to live a life of sin or selfishness but devotion and service to God, “Lord, I want to love You. I want to serve You. I want to live for You because you bought me and set me free.” You become a doulos, a bondslave for life, by the way, and you would become a slave out of love to Jesus Christ which is a picture of our redemption and our fellowship with Him as servants and slaves of Christ. It speaks of the transgressions that we’re under the first testament or covenant, so those who sinned under the old covenant could still be saved by grace through faith in Christ as Christ died on the cross, and His death on the cross actually brought, verse 15, “…the promise of eternal inheritance.” What a marvelous truth that is! Praise God for that! Not only does He establish the covenant, but He mediates that covenant or that testament.
Verse 16, “For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator.” At the end of verse 15, he mentions an inheritance and uses the picture there, and this is fitting because this is where the image comes from, the idea of a testament or a covenant. We use the term “will.” When a person makes a will and dies, then that will has to be mediated or distributed to those who are the beneficiaries of that trust.
Years ago I was a trustee of a cousin who had a will and asked me to be the trustee to that trust. When she died, I became the one who mediated the funds in that trust that needed to be distributed. Jesus not only establishes this covenant with us—He does it by His death—but He rose from the dead and lives to be the Mediator of the covenant as well.
When you’re a trustee and you’re dealing with a trust, delving out the funds, sometimes it’s not clear from the person who died what they wanted to do with the funds, so you’re kind of left to try to interpret their will, how it works, and make sure you do it right and legally. You can think, If that person could come back from the dead and speak with me right now and make it clear, ‘Did you want this money to go here, or did you want it to go there? Did you want your home to go there?’ It would have been a real blessing, but that’s not the case.
Jesus actually came back from the dead so that He could actually bring about the mediation of His will in His testament of the covenant, and it brings “…the promise of eternal inheritance.” No sooner has he mentioned the word “inheritance” at the end of verse 15, that he says, “For where a testament is,” —or a will or trust—“there must also of necessity be,”—and that’s one of the key words to our whole section that we cover tonight—“the death of the testator.” As long as the person is alive, their will, or trust, is of no significance. Once they die, then it’s significant. It’s distributed and there has to be a mediator or a trustee. He speaks of an inheritance and reminds them that the person has to die in order for there to be an implementing of that testament or will, so death is necessary.
Verse 17, “For a testament is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth.” If you made out a will and you’re still alive, then it’s of no significance. Basically, the big overarching point is that the death of Jesus Christ was necessary. The death of Jesus Christ was necessary. That’s what he was saying in these verses, that Jesus actually had to die in order for us to receive our inheritance. For us to be redeemed, for us to be saved, for us to get eternal life, Christ had to die.
Remember when Jesus was in Gethsemane and was facing the cross? He said, “O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.” The fact that Jesus did go to the cross is an indication it’s necessary that Jesus had to die. He actually came into the world for that very purpose. It wasn’t optional. The only way for mankind to be redeemed back to God for them to have salvation was through the death of Jesus Christ. It was necessary. The fact that Jesus went to the cross and died indicates you couldn’t get to heaven by ceremonialism, by legalism, or by self helps or self works. It took the death of Jesus Christ, the unique Son of God, no one else was qualified, to redeem mankind back to God. it took the God-man, Jesus Christ, the sinless, perfect Son of God to die for us to redeem us.
As we celebrate communion tonight, and you take the bread, the symbol of His body, which looks back at the cross symbolically of the reality of the cross, you remember that it was absolutely essential and necessary that Christ die. When you hold the cup and drink, it’s a picture of His blood, His death on the cross, and you remember that it was essential that His blood be shed.
We move to the next section, if you’re taking notes, verses 18-23, where we see the necessity of Christ’s blood to purify and to sanctify. His death was necessary, but in order to purify and to sanctify, Jesus had to die. Let’s look at verses 18-23. The writer of Hebrews says, “Whereupon,”—there’s really no thought break here—“neither the first testament,”—which is the old covenant, the old testament—“was dedicated without blood,”—even in the old system. What he’s going to do is argue about the importance and the necessity of blood for atonement, for purification, and for salvation. Even the old covenant had blood running all through it, all over it, and all upon it. He uses the word “blood” six times from verses 18-22. Back in the earlier section we just read, he used the word “death,” verses 15-16, for the same thing. Now, why does he switch from the word “death” to the word “blood”?
The word “blood” indicates that He died a vicious, sacrificial death. You can say that somebody died, and sometimes they’ll say, “Well, he died in peace,” or “He died in his sleep,” or “He died peacefully,” which I have no idea what that means, but Jesus Christ died violently. So, as we take Communion tonight, not only did He die—His death was necessary—but He suffered and died on a cross.
I never take Communion but what I’m moved by remembering the vicious, cruel death that He endured. He took our pain as well as our shame as well as our sin. He took it for me, He took it for you, He took it for us. Jesus didn’t just die in His sleep, Jesus died on a cross. He suffered and died a cruel, vicious death. He bled for us. The old covenant was also dedicated with blood, not “without blood” as he says in verse 18. And he goes on to describe the old covenant and its blood, “For when Moses had spoken every precept,”—that precept takes you back to Exodus 24. I’m just going to give you these references (you can look them up) where Moses actually established the old covenant with the people of Israel and sprinkled blood on everything. “…to all the people according to the law, he took the blood,”—there is, again, the reference—“of calves and of goats, with water, and scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book, and all the people.” What an amazing thought! All the elements of the tabernacle, the law of God, were all sprinkled with blood; and this is what he said, Exodus 24:8, “Saying, This is the blood of the testament,”—or covenant—“which God hath enjoined unto you.” He called the people to go into covenant.
In the covenants of the Old Testament, of which there were several others, there was always the death of an animal or blood shed which bound them together in covenant. The covenant between God and man was no different, it was the death of calves and goats, and then there was the sprinkling of the water and the scarlet wool, all of those things that were used, as you can read about in the book of Exodus. “…and sprinkled both the book, and all the people.” They even took and sprinkled the people with the blood, so after that time, there would be blood on everything. “Saying, This is the blood of the testament which God hath enjoined unto you. 21 Moreover he sprinkled with blood both the tabernacle,”—which is that tent we talked about last Wednesday night in the wilderness—“and all the vessels of the ministry,”—all the articles in the tabernacle and all the vessels that they used to do the approach to God were all sanctified and purified with blood.
Verse 22, “And almost all things,”—interesting—“almost all things,”—why? Because if you were very, very, very poor, Leviticus 5:11 actually says that you didn’t have to bring an animal sacrifice, that you could actually bring a meal sacrifice. You could bring some fine flour. There was also water that would purify. It was what’s called the libation, which was a drink offering—you’d have a glass of wine and you would pour it out into the soil. There were different kinds of offerings, but as a general rule, the requirement was blood be shed for the atoning of man’s sin.
This Sunday, Lord willing, I’m going to be preaching on the fall of man. We finally move from the doctrine of Scripture, the doctrine of God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit, and we looked last Sunday at the Trinity, the triune God, but we’re going to talk about man being made in the image of God—what is man, made male and female (I’ve just gotta throw that in), how man fell, and in Adam’s fall, we fall all, the sin and the curse that came upon the entire human race. You’ll never be able to understand what’s going on in the world around you if you don’t realize that man is a fallen creature—yes, made in God’s image—but he’s fallen into sin and needs to be redeemed. When no sooner Adam and Eve sinned, God had to kill an animal and take the skins of the animal—shed blood—and cover their nakedness. They tried to cover their nakedness with fig leaves, and it wouldn’t work, so God had to provide a covering for their sin until the blood of Jesus Christ, the perfect Lamb of God, was slain, and could wash away our sins and give us an eternal inheritance.
So, he says, “And almost all things are by the law purged with blood,”—and here’s the statement we are familiar with—“and without shedding of blood is no remission.” That verse is found in the book of Hebrews, and it’s a reminder that no one is forgiven without blood. There is no atonement without blood. Without the shedding of blood, there’s no remission or forgiveness.
It’s interesting that he uses that word “remission” there for our forgiveness in the new covenant because Jesus, in Matthew 26:28, when He instituted what we do tonight in the Lord’s supper, He took the cup, and after He had given thanks (so when we take the cup tonight, we give thanks), He said, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood for the remission of sins.” He used the very same Greek word that’s here in the book of Hebrews. He said, “This cup is a symbol of My blood and the new covenant,” this new testament that I’ve made with you, “for the remission,” which means to carry away our sins.
It’s interesting, the word “forgiveness” in its etymology literally means to take away or to carry away. God carries away or takes away our sins. It was the picture of the scapegoat where they would transfer their sins to that scapegoat and release it off the distant hills. When they saw the goat go off the distance, it was a picture of their sins being carried away. What a cool picture that is. You kind of hope the goat doesn’t turn around and come back (you throw rocks at it), but they had to do it every year. It reminded them, “Is this really a done deal?” I don’t thing so. Every year that goat had to carry their sins away. The contrast we see in our text in Hebrews is that Jesus died, once for all, to bring reconciliation and atonement and carry our sins away and bring remission, verse 22.
Verse 23, “It was therefore necessary,”—there’s my key word tonight, necessary—“that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these,”—that’s an interesting thought that even in heaven, that where Jesus went into the true tabernacle in heaven, that it all had to be purified with blood as well. There’s a lot of speculation theologically about why heaven had to be purified, maybe because of the presence of the devil or the sin of Satan still having access there, we don’t know. But the whole picture had to be consistent. If the covenant had the tabernacle on the old testament on earth which had to be purified with blood, so the true tabernacle in heaven, the covenant in heaven with us, had to be purified with blood as well. “It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens,”—the word “patterns” by the way, is type or picture or pattern—“should be purified with these,”—that is, with blood—“but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these,”—the better sacrifices than the blood of bulls and of calves.
Remember what Peter said? “…that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold,” they would actually redeem their firstborn with shekels (coins), “But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without”—what?—“blemish and without spot.” He had no inherited defect, no acquired defect. He was a pure, holy, sinless Son of God, born of a virgin, never sinned, went to the cross to redeem us back to God, and all that pictured on the earth, the pattern there. The old covenant is symbolic and ceremonial. The application is: Why would you want to go back? Why would you want to leave the reality that you have in Christ, you Jewish Christian Jew, and go back? Even Gentile Christians today, why would we want to stop worshiping God in spirit and in truth and have this Mediator of Christ where we come boldly into His presence and we can lay our petitions out before Him resort to ceremonialism or symbolism? Because mankind is a sensual creature. Somehow we have this concept that we can see things, smell things, and we want to placate to the sensual; so we sometimes gravitate toward the ceremonial because we can see it, it’s beautiful, it has form, it’s moving, and people will forsake Christ for ceremonialism.
I’m not anticeremonial or antiliturgical, but Christ is a Person. He’s to be worshiped in spirit and in truth, not worshiped with lighting of candles and the saying of foreign prayers and the offering of incense and those kinds of things. If the heart is not engaged, and you’re not really worshiping God in spirit and in truth, be careful you don’t go back to ceremonialism. Some of you didn’t come out of a ceremonial background, some of you did, but some of you came out of non-Christian backgrounds, but still there is that desire to gravitate back toward the symbolic or the sensual or the ceremonial as opposed to worshiping God in spirit and in truth, which Jesus affirmed in John 4 with the woman at the well at Sychar. The old covenant is a pattern. It’s a picture of things in heaven which are purified by, “…better sacrifices than these.”
Notice the word “sacrifices” is plural, which is interesting because Christ is a single sacrifice, so it’s believed that this plurality here is a figure of speech known as plural of majesty which speaks of the multiple glories and splendors that are in Christ and His sacrificial death on the cross, Christ’s blood.
Move with me now to verses 24-28. Here’s the third necessity: The necessity of Christ’s cross to avoid judgment and to bring salvation. It’s absolutely necessary for Christ to die on the cross to avoid being judged for our sins and experiencing the judgment and the wrath of God and also for us to be saved, so this is a salvation concept. Verse 24, “For Christ is not entered into the holy places.” He just finished verse 23 saying that He went to the heavenly and had better sacrifices than these, and then explains that the rationale, verse 24, “For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true.” Notice again, we have this all the way through this section in Hebrews, that the old covenant was a figure or a type or a picture of the substance which is Christ. The old is pointing to the new. It’s anticipating the new, so that which is shadow in the Old Testament is heightened and fulfilled in the complete New Testament. Without the New Testament, “…we are of all men most miserable.”
Did you ever notice the end of the Old Testament talks about the wrath of God, the judgment of God, and in the end of the New Testament it talks about the grace of God? John, in his gospel, said that, “…the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ,” so thank God for the New Testament! Now, it doesn’t mean don’t read the Old Testament, but the Old Testament is pointing to the New Testament. I don’t know if I should say this or not, but I’m kind of a New Testament fan. Why wouldn’t you be? The Old Testament is great, but I meet Christians that are all Old Testament, everything is Old Testament. That’s fine, but to the exclusion of the new covenant? Of the didactic doctrinal epistles? Of the explanation of which that it shadows? Make sure that you read both covenants, that you marinate your mind and heart in the New Testament, and that becomes the priority, not neglecting the Old Testament.
I could get in big trouble saying this, but I’m going to say it anyway. All of it is equally inspired, Old and New, but not all of it is equally as profitable. I don’t recommend you spend the next twenty years of your life studying the book of Numbers. I recommend you throw in Romans, Ephesians, Galatians, and some of those Bible books in as well. I just say that kind of jokingly, I hope you understand, but all equally inspired but not of equal value of importance in the life of the believer.
Go back to verse 24. “For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us.” Forgive me. I got a little bit ahead of myself, but I’m going to come to it at the end of my teaching. I want you to notice them as we go. There are three references of Christ’s appearance. This is a marvelous section. The first one is in verse 24. It says, “…but into heaven…appear in the presence of God for us,” first appearance. Verse 25, “Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year.” Every year, annually, on the day of Yom Kippur or the Day of Atonement, he would enter in to offer up, “…blood of others; 26 For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared,”—there’s the second appearance—“to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.”
Verse 27, “And as it is appointed unto men once to die,”—which, by the way, if you’re taking notes, write down “general rule” because there are people like Lazarus who was raised from the dead in a mortal body who had to die again. You talk about bummer in the summer, right? I gotta die? You die. Okay, lead me there. Don’t bring me back from the dead. I gotta die again? He had to come back to face death. It’s bad enough if I gotta die once, now I gotta die again? Everyone that Jesus raised from the dead (this is just a little detour right now) and came back to life, you know, Jairus’ daughter, that’s pretty cool, and things like that, but you have to die again. The general rule is that most people die only once, and also the idea that death is certain, “And as it is appointed unto men once to die,” and, by the way, it is an appointment. God has it on the calendar. He doesn’t let us know when it is, but it could be at any time. Don’t take life for granted. “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.” This is why I said in this section it is necessary for Christ to have died on the cross for us to avoid the judgment or the wrath of God.
Verse 28, this is a great verse, “So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear,”—there’s the third appearing—“the second time without sin unto salvation,” a marvelous, marvelous verse. Jesus had to die on the cross so that we could avoid the judgment of God.
While it’s fresh in my mind, go back to this idea of the judgment, “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.” He uses this term “judgment” here as a general concept—general concept, die once; general concept, judgment. Did you know that every human being who ever hath lived on planet earth will stand before God and be judged? Even Christians. You say, “Well, wait a minute, Pastor John, I thought that we were going to escape the judgement of God.” Yes, the judgment for our sins, but we’re going to stand before the Bema, the reward seat of Christ, and have to give an account for our service. But the concept is every. If you’re an unbeliever, you will stand before God and be judged for your sin, for your rejection of Christ. If you’re a believer, you’re not there to determine your salvation, your sin is not an issue, it’s done away with in the cross; but you will be judged in what’s called the Bema, or the reward seat of Christ, and what you did with your body and how you lived your life. We need to remember that. We’ll die once, it’s going to be certain. We can’t avoid it. All of us have an appointment we cannot avoid—death. The Bible talks about the brevity of life and the certainty of death. Life is short.
You older people, along with myself, know how short life is. I mean, you just graduate from high school, you graduate from college, you get married, and then, the next thing you know, you’re in a rest home waiting to die. I just thought I’d encourage you. It happens fast. It comes up before you realize it. So, are you ready for the judgment? Are you ready to stand before God and be either judged for your sin or judged for your service before the Lord of all the earth? “So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many.”
Let me wrap this up. There’s so much I’d like to say, but I want to wrap this up by pointing out these three appearances in what’s kind of a logical, chronological order. It think it’s kind of marvelous. The first is in verse 26, “For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world,”—which means the end of God’s program, purpose, and plans. When you look at the cross of Jesus Christ, it is actually at the end of God’s metanarrative or God’s purpose or plan. Even though you say, “Well, man, there’s been over two thousand years ago Jesus died on the cross. We still haven’t seen the rapture, the Second Coming or the tribulation,” but in God’s economy, we’re at the end of time. The whole Church Age is actually the last days. We get so hyped up about, “The last days, the last days, the last days,” these are the last days of the very, very last days of the last days. We’ve been in the last days since Christ came, so it actually uses that phrase that he appeared, “…in the end of the world hath he appeared,”—to do what?—“to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.”
“…the sacrifice of himself,” was voluntary, no one made Him go to the cross, He voluntarily went to the cross. The Father sent the Son, but the Son volunteered for the mission. It was vicarious in that He took our place, He died in our stead, and it was victorious. He conquered sin, death, and the grave. Notice He, “…put away sin,” He didn’t just cover it. He didn’t just give a kaphar or a covering, like the old covenant, but He actually took it away or remissioned it or forgave it, washed it clean. This is the past appearing of Christ where He deals with the penalty of sin. When we speak of salvation, we speak of the fact that I’ve been saved from sin’s penalty. If you’re taking notes, you might want to write these down because if you ever get the chance to do a devo or teach the Bible, this is a great sermon. This appearance is past dealing with the penalty of sin. He came voluntarily, vicariously, victoriously to put away our sin. The penalty of sin—past.
The second is in verse 24, back up where it says, “…now to appear in the presence of God for us.” This is the present where He delivers us from the power of sin. We have the penalty of sin that is forgiven, but we have the power of sin forgiven as well. This is the present. So, we have the past, verse 26, when He came and died on the cross, and tonight, when we take Communion, we look back at His work on the cross. What is He doing right now? He is interceding for us so that He can give us strength and power over sin. Right now in heaven, He’s interceding.
Then, verse 28, here’s the future, “So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many,” read Isaiah 53, “But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities,” so it was our sin, our chastisement that He was taking, and then it says, “…to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him,”—which I believe is a reference to believers or Christians, and that’s what we should be doing, looking for Him—“shall he,”—future tense—“appear the second time without sin,”—He’s not going to come to die on a cross, He’s not going to die to atone for sin, He’s going to come back to establish His Kingdom and to reign in righteousness for eternity. He’s going to come back with salvation. He’s going to come, “…without sin unto salvation.” This is the third phase of our salvation—glorification—it’s future.
I hope I haven’t thoroughly confused you. In verse 26, we look back at the cross, He delivers us from the penalty of sin; verse 24, right now He’s in heaven interceding for us, He delivers us from the power of sin; verse 28, He comes back and returns, that’s future, He will deliver us from the very presence of sin altogether. That’s glorification. So, I’ve been saved, I’m being saved, and I will be saved—past, present, and future. It’s all found in these three appearances in this passage of the book of Hebrews which I think is so marvelous.
Now, as we celebrate the Lord’s Supper tonight, and we take the bread, we take the cup, and we ask you to hold your portion until we’re all served, we’re looking back at the cross, but we’re also looking forward to His coming. I love it, it says, “…and unto them that look for him shall he appear,” whether he’s talking about the rapture, which could be, the Lord comes to take us home to heaven, or whether he’s talking about the Second Coming, either one of them would apply, I don’t know. But we’re looking for Jesus Christ to appear, so we’re looking back at the cross, right? and remembering what He did for us on the cross, we’re looking ahead at His coming back again, and Jesus actually said, “I will not drink…of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it…with you in my Father’s kingdom.”
Pastor John Miller continues our survey through the book of Hebrews with a message titled “Christ Superior Priesthood” through Hebrews 9:15-28.