Our journey through Hebrews continues this week as the writer again makes the case for Jesus’ superiority as the once-and-for-all sacrifice for our sins. He points out the futile efforts of the human priests, who can’t make a dent in the sin problem, and the single sacrifice made by Jesus that wipes out sin forever.
Hebrews 10:11-18 (Common English Bible)
11 Every priest stands every day serving and offering the same sacrifices over and over, sacrifices that can never take away sins. 12 But when this priest offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, he sat down at the right side of God. 13 Since then, he’s waiting until his enemies are made into a footstool for his feet, 14 because he perfected the people who are being made holy with one offering for all time.
15 The Holy Spirit affirms this when saying,
16 This is the covenant that I will make with them.
After these days, says the Lord,
I will place my laws in their hearts
and write them on their minds.
17 And I won’t remember their sins
and their lawless behavior anymore.[a]
18 When there is forgiveness for these things, there is no longer an offering for sin
In Eugene Peterson’s The Message, verse 14 reads like this:
“It was a perfect sacrifice by a perfect person to perfect some very imperfect people” (Hebrews 10:14 The Message). Preach it, Eugene! We are indeed some very imperfect people. The Holy Spirit affirms our condition of imperfection and points us toward a new plan. This new covenant will be placed in our hearts and written on our minds. Thanks be to God!
The imagery of God’s new plan being written in our hearts goes a long way toward a deeper understanding of the depth of God’s plan. God desires this covenant to be engraved not just on our hearts, but in our hearts… in other words, the deepest, inside part … of our hearts. God does not desire a superficial relationship with us but wants us to present the most inner part of our souls. We are invited to love God from the “inside-out.”
Let’s take this in a different direction now. If God provided the perfect sacrifice for the forgiveness of sins, can we really be unforgiving toward each other’s sin? And if we continue to hold grudges and refuse to forgive one another, what does that say about the power of the cross? It seems to say that our stubbornness is greater than the blood that was shed there. Everyone loves to be forgiven but we sure can be measly when it comes to forgiving others. Does that make sense? In this passage, God promises to not remember our sins and our lawless behavior anymore. This is the way we are to respond to one another, even in those situations where the offender has not asked for forgiveness.
God calls us to forgiveness and Jesus made it conditional in the Lord’s Prayer when he said, “Forgive us our trespasses AS WE FORGIVE those who trespass against us.” The phrase “as we forgive” means that we must give as good as we have gotten. And sometimes that is very, very hard.
Is God calling you to forgive someone today? Remember that often the burden of unforgiveness is hardest on you, not the one who hurt you. Jesus’ perfect offering wiped your slate clean. Maybe it is time for you to wipe clean all the other slates in like manner..
Old Buoy by Michelle Robertson