It is not as though Christ had entered a man-made sanctuary which was only modelled on the real one; but it was heaven itself, so that he could appear in the actual presence of God on our behalf. And he does not have to offer himself again and again, like the high priest going into the sanctuary year after year with the blood that is not his own, or else he would have had to suffer over and over again since the world began.
Instead of that, he has made his appearance once and for all, now at the end of the last age, to do away with sin by sacrificing himself.
Since men only die once, and after that comes judgement, so Christ, too, offers himself only once to take the faults of many on himself, and when he appears a second time, it will not be to deal with sin but to reward with salvation those who are waiting for him.
The Letter to the Hebrews points to comparisons between Christ and the Jewish cult, and clearly posits Jesus Christ as the fulfilment of all that has been, the sole provider of what is necessary for the salvation of God’s people, Jews and Gentiles.
It is so easy for us to fall into the trap of trying to tame religion, of re-making it in our image and likeness. Yet as Hebrews makes clear, and – to be fair – it is the constant theme of the Old Testament too, God will not be contained within our cult and our systems. God is God and we are but creatures: beloved creatures but creatures all the same.
The horizon-busting, transcendent achievement of God who became one with us is something we neglect at our peril. If we neglect it, and reduce God’s salvation to something of this world, for this world, very quickly we lose real need for it, it becomes one ‘solution’ to the human condition, just one more ‘solution’ among so very many.
- What is there about you that is lacking, that only God can address?
- What about the Gospel stretches you at present?
A golden cover for Book of Gospels, Arsenal Museum, Kremlin, Moscow. (c) 2015, Allen Morris