Thursday, April 9, 2009

Once for all… (Hebrews 7:26-28) 090409

Jesus is our High Priest! He is the One who will be presenting the sacrificial offering to God on our behalf. Jesus is also the Sacrificial Offering. He is the offering being sacrificed on the Cross by Himself the High Priest so that we are forgiven, once and for all.

The passage today is similar to the Hebrews 5:1-3, they are almost parallel in some sense. The author of Hebrews once again highlights the quality of Jesus as the High Priest: holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners and exalted above the heavens (v26, NASB). When I read through these qualities of Jesus, I have a problem: Jesus is not really separated from sinners, wasn’t He among the sinners?

When I check the NIV Bible, the translation there is ‘set apart from sinners’. A commentator, F. F. Bruce, commented that:

Although he came to earth “in the likeness of sinful flesh,” lived among sinners, received sinners, ate with sinners, was known as the friend of sinners, yet he is set apart from sinners, “in a different class from sinful men”; and is now exalted above all the heavens to share the throne of God.

The original Greek word will suggest ‘separated’ rather than ‘set apart’. But the context and the grammar of this sentence will give us a different understanding, because it has to be understood together with ‘exalted above the heaven’. In other words, the separation is not literal separation from sinners, but rather separation in accordance to Levitical ritual set apart for religious duty, which requires him to be purer and exalted above the rest. This is how Leon Morris explains,

There is probably another contrast in the words "set apart from sinners," for the Levitical high priest was required to leave his home seven days before the Day of Atonement and live in such a manner as to ensure that he avoided ritual defilement (M Yoma 1.1). But Jesus' separation was not ritual. Some think the words refer to his spotless character and think he is being contrasted with sinful men. It is more likely that we should take the words closely with the following. His work on earth is done. He has accomplished his sacrifice. He has been "exalted above the heavens." This makes him the perfect intercessor.

Therefore, Jesus is still able to sympathize and identify with us, the sinners. And because of He is holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners and exalted above the heavens; the effect of His sacrifice is once for all (v27), and once and for all. In other words, the work of Christ is for all men across all times.

When I think of this, especially during this season of Lent, I have the confident that my sins of the past are forgiven, once for all. My sins of today are also forgiven, once for all. My sins in the future will surely be forgiven too. Do you also have such confidence too?

There is great implication, if we really believe that our sins are forgiven once for all because of the effect of the High Priest and the Sacrifice, then why are we still live in guilt? I am not saying that we can continue to sin because our sins will be forgiven anyway, but I am saying that when we sinned and having confessed to God of our sinful act, we do not need to live in guilty and condemnation. Feeling guilty and condemn is the lie of Devil.

When you sin, all you need is to confess, agreeing with God that what you have done is not pleasing in His sight, and you are forgiven. You may have committed adultery; you may have lied to your supervisor; you may have cheated in an examination; you may have even being gossiping and betrayed someone you love for sake of a promotion. But if you have confessed them to God, you are forgiven.

You are forgiven; once for all.


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