Studies in Hebrews, 1 & 2 Peter
15. Hebrews 9:11-14 - A Perfect Sacrifice
Now, in contrast to the ritual works of the old covenant, we are told about the superior ministry of Christ: “But when Christ came as high priest of the good things that are now already here, he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not made with human hands, that is to say, is not a part of this creation.” The better blessings have already begun, the author reminds us. We already have forgiveness and direct access to God, because Christ went through the heavenly holy place.
Jesus Christ entered the reality, not the imitation, and he did it by a better sacrifice: “He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption.” By dying for us, the Son of God was able to redeem us once for all. It was a perfect, sinless sacrifice, presented in the heavenly holy place, fully effective, never needing to be done again. This was a sharp contrast with the Levitical rituals, which were repeated continually yet never bringing the people closer to God.
“The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean” (see Numbers 19:1-22). The heifer ritual, like the others, had obscure details that had nothing to do with a person’s conscience. Christ is much better than a heifer, and we should expect that his sacrifice achieves a much better kind of cleansing. “How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!”
He offered a perfect sacrifice, willingly, and this cleanses us on the inside and enables us to worship God. We can do what the high priest could only symbolize: we can approach God with total confidence. We have been washed and purified by the blood of Christ — all sins are removed. If a burned-up heifer could ritually cleanse an Israelite, we can be sure that the sacrifice of Jesus is more than enough for us.
Since Christ brings us complete forgiveness, he “is the mediator of a new covenant.” He gives us a relationship with God on a completely new basis — not the old covenant, but the new. Here is the result: “those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance.” Salvation!
Author: Michael Morrison, PhD