Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and He will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for Him. (Hebrews 9:27-28)
Much of this section of the letter to the Hebrews may seem foreign to us with the numerous references to sacrifices, blood and the tabernacle. This is because the author of Hebrews is writing to a particular audience for a particular purpose. The author is writing to Christians who came from a Jewish background and they are writing to show how the sacrifices and priestly service conducted in the tabernacle (and the temple) pointed to and were superseded by Jesus.
There is no similar parallel in our lives today. No one has participated in worship at the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem since it was destroyed in AD 70. But what we do understand is the concept of performance. Regardless of our backgrounds, all of us are hard-wired for a religion of performance, in other words, those who do good things get the good stuff from God.
A performance-based religion either exhausts and drains us (if we can’t perform well enough) or fills us with pride and vanity (if we can meet or exceed religious expectations). Both exhaustion and pride are toxic to the human soul.
Knowing this, Jesus came to this world because He loves us to be the one perfect Sacrifice that takes away all sin. Jesus lived, died and rose again from the dead to pry death’s stiff, cold hands off us and give us the sure and certain promise of resurrection life. One day Jesus will come back to this earth to give us what we long for: the completion of saving and healing us, body and soul, to live with Him forever in the new heaven and earth.
Our old performance religion needs to die so we can rest in Jesus’ perfect sacrifice for us and have life through Him.
Dear Jesus, thank you for being the one, perfect Sacrifice who has completely taken away all my sin. Help me to turn away from my tendency toward performance-based religion and rest in Your grace. Amen.