Passion Sunday: Jesus Our High Priest
In Hebrews 9:1-10, we see the writer writing about the Old Testament form of worship. And the contrast is brought now to the worship that is our privilege under the New Testament. And so verse 12 begins with the word “but”.
“But, when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things to come,” all the good things that have come under the new covenant, “he entered through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands. Not of this creation and not through the blood of goats and calves, but through his own blood. He entered the holy place once for all having obtained eternal redemption. For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling those who have been defiled, sanctified for the cleansing of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ who through the eternal spirit offered himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God. And for this reason, he is the mediator of a new covenant.”
In order that since a death has taken place for the redemption of the transgressions that were committed under the first covenant, those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance. For where a covenant is, there must of necessity be the death of the one who made it. For a covenant is valid only when men are dead. For it is never enforced while the one who made it lives. Therefore, even the first covenant was not inaugurated without blood. For when every commandment had been spoken by Moses to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of the calves and the goats with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, sprinkled both the book itself and all the people saying, "This is the blood of the covenant which God commanded you." And in the same way he sprinkled both the Tabernacle and all the vessels of the ministry with the blood. And according to the law, one may almost say all things are cleansed with blood and without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness.
Now, the point in this passage is, that the blood of Christ is far superior to the blood of bulls and goats.
Under the old covenant, they shed the blood of bulls and goats and calves.
Under the new covenant, Christ has shed his blood. And as much as the blood of Christ is superior to the blood of goats and calves and bulls, in the same measure, the new covenant is superior to the old covenant. What the blood of Christ can do for us is far more than what the blood of bulls and goats could do for people under the old covenant. David could say, “bless the Lord O my soul who forgives all your sins.” But all he knew was the blood of bulls and goats. But under the new covenant, what can we say? We can say more than that our sins are forgiven. Under the New Covenant we can say that the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin. And through the blood, we are told in Revelation 12:11, we can overcome Satan "by the blood of the Lamb."
We are redeemed, that is purchased unto God by the blood. We read in Revelation 1:5 that we are loosed from our sins by the blood of Christ. And we overcome Satan by the blood of the lamb. So there is not only forgiveness, but there is deliverance from sins power. The blood cleanses us and gives us a conscience that is perfect.
Under the old covenant, we are told in Hebrews 9, that the conscience of the worshiper could not be made perfect. And herein lies the difference between the New covenant and the Old Covenant. Under the old covenant, a man could not be perfect in conscience. Under the New covenant we can. This is the perfection that is promised us in the New covenant. A perfect conscience where our conscience does not condemn us for anything. God promises us under the New covenant, a life where we can be free from the dominion of sin. There is no need to be defeated by sin under the new covenant. We can be free from the dominion of Sin.
This is the essential difference. And we can have a conscience that is void of offense toward God and toward men. We can say like the Apostle Paul said in 1st Corinthians 4:4. "I am not conscious to myself of any thing" This is the life that we can live in under the new covenant because the blood of Christ is far superior to the blood of bulls and goats. We are told in verse 11 of Hebrews 9 that Jesus Christ is “the fulfillment of the Old Testament high priest.” He is the true high priest of which the Old testament high priest was only a type. And he has entered through into the very presence of God, the immediate presence of God in heaven, which is the fulfillment of the Old Testament holy of holies in the Old Testament Tabernacle. This presence of God is not one made with hands. It is not a created thing. And Christ has entered in. The Old testament high priest could enter in only with the blood of goats and calves into the most holy place, but Jesus has entered with his own blood into the most holy place, into the immediate presence of God, and has purchased for us, obtain for us, an eternal redemption. And so it says in verse 13, “if the blood of goats and bulls, could sanctify people under the Old Covenant, how much more will the blood of Christ who through the eternal spirit offered himself without spot to God?” There was no spot in Christ. He lived a sinless life and he offered himself to God, his sinless, spotless life, with no blemish. How much more will that blood cleanse our conscience from dead works to serve the Living God?
What are dead works?
Dead works are the works that we do in our own strength.
They may be good, works according to our own understanding and according to the understanding of other human beings. But we read in Isaiah 64:6 that our good works are “like filthy menstrual rags.” Our best works that we can produce are like filthy rags. They are corrupt at their source because they are produced in the strength of self and invariably for the glory of self. They are corrupt even though externally they look good. We are to be cleansed by the blood of Christ from our own filthy rags. Even our own righteousness needs to be cleansed in the blood of Christ. Our righteousness, dead works. We are to confess them as no good for salvation. And now we can serve the living God as Jesus served the Living God by the power of the Holy Spirit. And so in verse 15 it says, he is the mediator of a New Covenant. And in order to seal that covenant, he died.
Since all covenants are valid, only when men are dead, verse 17, so he died.
Even as the first covenant was sealed with the blood of animals, and even as Moses took that blood and sprinkled it upon the book and the people so thereby the old covenant was sealed, the new covenant also has been sealed as we are told in Hebrews 13:20. The blood of the eternal covenant was sealed with the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. And just like under the law, when everything was cleansed with blood, under the new covenant also through the blood of Jesus Christ, we get a clean heart. And when God cleanses our heart, there is no virtue in calling it unclean. If we have confessed every sin, and if we have asked Christ to cleanse us, then it is yours and my privilege to rejoice in a clean heart! So rejoice in that clean heart and don't call unclean what God has cleansed through the blood of his Son.