(A) Introduction.

This is a moving and thrilling passage. In it the writer sums up and re-emphasises points he has already made. He finds it hard to leave the sacrificial work of Jesus. His teaching is a rebuke both to those who would ignore Christ as a sacrifice for sin and to others who would have Jesus sacrificed over and over again during the Mass. I am going to examine in what ways Jesus sacrifice was superior to those offered by the Jewish priesthood.

(B) Jesus gave himself. See vs6 and 7. "with burnt offerings and sin offerings you were not pleased. Then I said, 'Here I am - it is written about me in the scroll- I have come to do your will, O God.'"

The Jewish priests offered gifts. Jesus offered himself - 'Here I am...' He made himself available to God wholeheartedly and unconditionally. Jesus gave his heart to God. He was prepared to do anything that God wanted.

We have some non-Christians in our fellowship. They are rather like the Jewish priests - they make gifts, but unlike Jesus they do not offer themselves. Superficially they differ little from the committed Christians with whom they are on excellent terms. In some ways they excel in usefulness. However there is a crucial difference - they remain their own. See anecdote about Edmund Goss

It has to be said that genuine Christians struggle, often unsuccessfully but not always so, to emulate their Master. Corrie ten Boom has a nice little story in her book, 'Tramp for the Lord' to illustrate Paul's appeal in Rom12v1. Therefore, I urge you brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God - this is your spiritual act of worship. Corrie was eighty. She had just finished conducting a service in Copenhagen and felt tired. Two nurses invited her back to their flat for a cup of coffee. It was on the tenth floor of an old, high house. There was no lift. Corrie complained to the Lord - how could she be expected to climb ten flights of stairs. After she had managed five - she complained again. However Corrie persevered and made it. In that flat she met the mother and father of one of the nurses and was able, by God's grace, to lead them to Christ. This is how Corrie finishes her story:

"Thank You, Lord," I prayed as I walked back down the long steps, "for making me walk up all these steps. And next time, Lord, help Corrie ten Boom listen to her own sermon about being willing to go anywhere You tell me to go - even up ten flights of stairs."

(C) Jesus gave what God wanted most. v7. I have come to do your will, O God.

In Samuel ch15 We can read about the dreadful mistake King Saul made after comprehensively defeating the Amalekites in battle. God had told him through Samuel to totally destroy the Amalekites including their livestock. Saul kept back the best sheep and cattle to sacrifice to the Lord. This also enabled his army to celebrate their victory with a feast of roast meat! Samuel confronts Saul with his disobedience and says: "Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as obeying the voice of the LORD? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams."

Jesus in everything obeyed his Father in heaven. As Paul says when writing to the Philippians: He humbled himself and became obedient to death - even death on the cross. In the Garden of Gethsemane he shrank from the ordeal that lay before him but nevertheless he submitted to the will of God his Father - "Yet not as I will, but as you will." Mt26v39.

It is possible for us to give ourselves to God, to give our hearts to Jesus, and then expect to serve him as we think best. I can remember a young, charismatic, but immature, Christian called Bob telling us about a visit he made to Rumania in 1990. He claimed to have addressed a large meeting in that country through an interpreter and 21000 were saved. I didn't believe him! He hoped for a call to Eastern Europe to work as an evangelist. I thought: why doesn't he start in the East End of London? There is a tendency for a certain type of young Christian to want to serve Jesus in a way that wins them a lot of attention. The seed that fell on stony ground sprung up, made rapid growth, showed much promise but withered in the sunshine because the root lacked depth. God expects most of us to serve him in very ordinary, unglamorous ways. He also prepares us for successful service.

I have served God in doing mostly humdrum tasks. I would have liked to be a popular preacher - but that wasn't God's will! Failing that it would have been agreeable to have a group of Christians to teach - but that hasn't materialised either. I served for twenty years at a Christian camp as the sports organiser. I didn't use my skills as a teacher but my expertise as games player, sportsman and map reader!. For four years I didn't do much at all except care for my father who was in the final stages of Parkinson's Disease. That seemed a strange providence because I was neither patient nor tender. However I was resourceful, emotionally tough and persevering - and I did teach myself to touch type during that period! For the last ten or eleven years I have been church secretary - doing many mundane, unskilled jobs... I cannot claim to be humble - but I think I have mostly done what God knows I am capable of doing.

(D) Jesus gave himself effectively

    (a) He provided a remedy for sin - not a reminder.
    The sacrifices under the old covenant were an annual reminder of sins, because it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sin.Ch10v3. The Israelites were not conscious of being made perfect. They could not say that they no longer felt guilty for their sins. The Christian on the other hand believes in Jesus who by one sacrifice has made perfect for ever those who are being made holy. The follower of Jesus can be certain that if they endure to the end God will say, "There sins and lawless acts I will remember no more."

Blessed assurance - Jesus is mine!
Oh, what a foretaste of glory divine!
Heir of salvation, purchase of God;
Born of His Spirit, washed in his blood.

    I am never without my inhaler. I carry it wherever I go. It is under my pillow at night, in my pocket by day, in my sock when I am playing hockey! My inhaler is a constant reminder that I still have asthma. The symptoms are relieved by the inhaler but the disease is not remedied. My old friend Miss Kilpatrick was dying from an infection of the valves of the heart until her condition was diagnosed and the physician pumped her full of penicillin. She was cured. Her heart was made perfect. Therein lies the difference between the sacrifices of the old dispensation and the work of Jesus. We do well to sing our dear Redeemer's praise:

He breaks the powers of cancelled sin,
He sets the prisoner free,
His blood can make the foulest clean,
His blood availed for me.

    (b) It is a finished work
    Jesus has completed the work of salvation. There is no need for any repetition. The activity of the Old Testament priests was never complete - there was an unceasing, unending round of sacrifices. v11 Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. The writer to the Hebrews captures the wearisomeness and futility of the sacrificial system which can never take away sins. I find the most dispiriting work is that which is never finished - that has to be done over and over - like cleaning the house. It does not matter how often or how well you clean the house it will need doing again in the self same way.

    There are jobs we can finish and not have to do again. I once supervised the building of a village hall. It gave me great satisfaction to see it completed and to know that my work was done. I will rejoice when I have finished this series on 'Hebrews'! Our writer conveys something of the satisfaction of Jesus when writing: But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins he sat down at the right hand of God. Christ's work is done. There is no call for any more priests - least of all in the Christian church. There is certainly no necessity for Christ to be offered up again and again. He offered for ALL TIME ONE sacrifice for sins.

    Jesus sets us an example on how to serve. We should aim to complete the work God gives us to do - to make a good and thorough job of it - and to leave a small but permanent legacy of worthwhile achievements behind us.

(E) Jesus was honoured appropriately.


    (a) Has gone into the presence of God at whose right hand he sits.

    (b) Will appear a second time for the salvation of those trusting in him.

    (c) Waits until his enemies will be made his footstool.

We, too, will be honoured if we are faithful servants of Jesus. He is the first fruits of them that sleep. So we will share his victory, his glory and his inheritance if we share his cross.

No cross, no crown

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