Will Graham is Vice President and Associate Evangelist of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Executive Director of the Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove in Asheville, N.C. He is also the grandson of Billy and Ruth Graham.
Perfection. Have you ever seen it? Sure, we may gaze at a snowflake, a flower or a child’s smile and feel that we are looking at perfection. But examine more closely – that snowflake will soon dissolve, the flower is missing a petal, and the child will certainly have his share of misbehavior. The fact of the matter is that in this world, very little is without blemish or defect.
The same can be said of the Old Testament sacrifices. They were not perfect and did not permanently purify anything. They had to be repeated constantly, and they never truly dealt with sin and judgment.
But when we look at the sacrifice of Jesus, the most pivotal moment in history, we witness something that is so perfect that it changes the course of eternity. Let’s visit Hebrews 9:23-28.
First, Jesus’ sacrifice purified everything—in heaven and on earth. Verses 23 and 24 share that not only the “copies of heavenly things” (in other words, the things of man) would be purified, but “the heavenly things themselves.” Christ’s blood had to be over everything, and therefore even the way into heaven must be covered and cleansed with blood as man comes to God. The sacrifice of Jesus – the very reason we celebrate Easter – is what makes it possible for us to enter into heaven. We have been cleansed through the blood of Jesus on the cross, all the way to the heavenly realm.
Second, Jesus’ sacrifice does not need to be repeated. Under the old covenant, the High Priest had to annually make atonement for the sins of the nation on Yom Kippur, year after year. Not true with Jesus’ sacrifice. Verses 25 and 26 explain that there is no longer a need for repeated blood sacrifices, as Jesus “…has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.” He never had to repeat it because it was a perfect sacrifice—the shed blood of a man for men. That is why, as Christians, we don’t have to fear death.
Finally, Jesus’ sacrifice is perfect because it took away judgment. My friends, I’m sorry to break it to you, but – short of Christ’s return – you are going to die someday. Verse 27 says, “And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment.” We will all eventually pass from this world and stand before the Lord. However, thanks to the finished perfect sacrifice of Jesus, He has taken that judgment for those who believe. Verse 28: “so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.” What an incredible grace that we’ve been given! The debt has been paid!
What is the point of Hebrews 9:23-28? It’s this: Jesus’ sacrifice was so perfect that it purified everything from you and me, to heaven itself; it never had to be repeated, and took away our judgment.
As you enjoy your Easter celebration, please take a moment to pause and appreciate Christ’s perfect sacrifice; the purifying final act that took away judgment for those that call upon His name. What a joy to place our eternal hope in Him!
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