Text – Hebrews 9:11-15:
11 But when Christ came as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation), 12 he entered once for all into the Holy Place, not with the blood of goats and calves, but with his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption.
13 For if the blood of goats and bulls, with the sprinkling of the ashes of a heifer, sanctifies those who have been defiled so that their flesh is purified, 14 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 worship the living God!
15 For this reason he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance because a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions under the first covenant.
The Letter to the Hebrews, from which this text is taken, was written to a church community that was experiencing some sort of stress resulting in the abandonment of the Christian Way by some of their members. The writer is urging them to remain faithful to their commitment to Christ.
Part of the writer’s strategy was to demonstrate the superiority of Christ to their old way of worshiping and understanding God’s work. The writer writes that Christ is superior to angels, to Moses, and to the High Priests of the Old Law.
In this text the writer describes a Christ who, like a priest, goes into the Holiest place in the heavenly Temple to offer a sacrifice. Only, this time the sacrifice is not a lamb with blemishes, but a perfect lamb – himself. Here are some important takeaways from the text: 1) the writer is critiquing the failure of the old law to permanently deal with sin. 2) Christ is the remedy for the law’s failures. And 3) the central emphasis of this text is on inward transformation – “…purify our consciences…”
Because of the trajectory of Lent (the Cross) it is good to remember that the faith we show is in Christ who has, once for all, remedied the short comings of human endeavor, and the goal of Lent and the Cross is to purify the internal self and not to dwell on ritual. Praise God for this outcome.
Dear Father, we give thanks to you for the commitment and sacrifice that Jesus made for us in his Incarnation and death. We know that this was the only way that sin and death could be dealt the fatal blow and that mankind could be freed from the consequence of our failings. Now, in Holy Week, we are mindful of the breadth and depth of your generosity and love, and we give thank. In Jesus’ name. Amen.