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Hebrews 10:11-18 – Jesus Christ Offers a Single Sacrifice

Summary

While the law of Moses calls for ongoing sacrifices, Christ offered one sacrifice in his death. This offering is effective for all time.

Analysis

The covenant under Moses prescribed sacrifices that were made repeatedly for sins. Jesus, however, offered a single sacrifice when he was crucified, raised, and exalted to heavenly glory. This means that Jesus' sacrifice is unique in that it will never be repeated. Hebrews identifies Jesus' sacrificial death as the means by which God inaugurates the new covenant, which provides abundant mercy for people (Jeremiah 31:31-43). Since Jesus' sacrifice is the definitive offering for sin, no further sacrifices are needed. Readers can trust that in Jesus they see the one who brings God's purposes to their completion. Those seeking forgiveness can turn to him, knowing that he provides the mercy needed for life with God.

The new covenant is inaugurated by the death of Jesus, which offers a complete and final source of atonement for people. Yet not all of the provisions of the covenant are fully in place. The new covenant promises that people will no longer need to teach one another to know the Lord, yet the author of Hebrews clearly recognizes that teaching is still needed (5:12). The new covenant is also to inscribe God's will on human hearts, yet Hebrews assumes that the human heart is far from perfect (3:12). The new covenant is inaugurated by Christ but its complete realization will come only in the future.

Hebrews 10:11-18

11 And every priest stands day after day at his service, offering again and again the same sacrifices that can never take away sins. 12But when Christ* had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, ‘he sat down at the right hand of God’, 13and since then has been waiting ‘until his enemies would be made a footstool for his feet.’ 14For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are sanctified. 15And the Holy Spirit also testifies to us, for after saying,
16 ‘This is the covenant that I will make with them
   after those days, says the Lord:
I will put my laws in their hearts,
   and I will write them on their minds’,
17he also adds,
‘I will remember* their sins and their lawless deeds no more.’
18Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin.

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10 February 2011

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