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The Finality of Christ’s Sacrifice

Devotions

All the way back in Hebrews 5:11, the author introduced the topic of Jesus’ priesthood and sacrifice and warned, “We have much to say about this.” Indeed he did! Five chapters later, we have finally come to the end of that extended argument. Fittingly, it concludes with an emphasis on the finality of Christ’s sacrifice.

Summarizing again the previous argument, the author of Hebrews reminds us of the contrast between the daily sacrifices of the old priestly system, “which can never take away sins” (v. 11), and Christ, who “offered for all time one sacrifice for sins” (v. 12). The finality of that sacrifice is made clear when, after the sacrifice, Christ “sat down at the right hand of God” (v. 12).

Christ’s redemptive work is both finished and awaiting its final and future realization of that work. He still “waits for his enemies to be made his footstool” (v. 13). Notice the verb tenses used in verse 14: we have been “made perfect forever” (past tense) and are still “being made holy” (present tense). This is the “already-not yet” paradox of the Christian faith and our call to be continually growing into our fulfillment and completion in Christ.

The author of Hebrews ends this section by reminding us that Christ’s priesthood, sacrifice, and new covenant have addressed the root problem of sin. In Jeremiah 31, God declared: “I put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds” (v. 16) and “Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more” (v. 17). Scripture highlights the finality of Christ’s work with these words: “And where these have been forgiven, sacrifice for sin is no longer necessary” (v. 18). Christ’s redemption is all we need. No other sacrificial system or any amount of self-effort can accomplish what Christ has done, once and for all.

Apply the Word

As you worship God with fellow believers, reflect on Scripture’s message about Christ’s priesthood and sacrifice. As you sing with your voice, listen with your ears, and pray with your mind and heart, let your Sunday worship be your own sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving in response to the finality of Christ’s atoning sacrifice for you.

BY Bryan Stewart

Bryan A. Stewart is associate professor of religion at McMurry University in Abilene, Texas. His particular interests are the history of Christian thought and the way that early Christians interpreted the biblical canon. He is the editor of a volume on the Gospel of John in The Church’s Bible series (Eerdmans), and he has done extensive research on the ways that the early Church preached on this Gospel. He is an ordained minister. 

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