Thursday, November 5, 2009

Hebrews 9 -- Gruesome Truth

The topic of sacrifice is never a pretty topic, especially when it comes from the Bible. It seems whenever sacrifice is mentioned in the scriptures it involves blood and the sprinkling of blood on things and people. This conjures up some pretty gruesome images. Could you imagine the next time you are gathered for worship is the pastor started sprinkling blood on everything including you? I am not sure there would be many people in church, and I am pretty sure the pastor would have an all expense paid trip to talk with the local authorities.

Still the Old Testament is filled with images and instances of blood. What is more, the images are connected with our redemption. Each year the high priest would take the blood of pure animals and use it to enter in the Most Holy Place and seek atonement for himself and the people. For centuries this happened. So why doesn't it happen today? Well scary as it is, there are some religious traditions and practices in the world who still carry this on. I do not mean in far off lands where people do not know better. Right here in these good ole United States there are groups in the name of religion who engage in blood sacrifice. Why not in the Christian church?

While the high priest had to go annually to offer the blood sacrifice, Jesus cared for this issue once and for all time. This is part of the whole new covenant. The old covenant required the gruesome act of offering blood. The new covenant still requires such a thing, however Jesus offered his own blood as an eternal sacrifice. Jesus' sacrifice is real, and the blood which flowed from him on the cross was real. The gruesome truth is without that reality we remain hopelessly lost. However, we need not shed more blood, because Jesus' blood still covers our sin.

Human reality has not changes. We are a rebellious bunch who thinks we know best how to navigate this world. Our greatest sin is how often we lean on our understanding more than trust in God. Because of this the gruesome truth remains, sacrifice is necessary for our righteousness. Let us be thankful we no longer need to have actual bloodshed at our gatherings.

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