Nor did [Christ] enter heaven to offer himself again and again, the way the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood that is not his own. Otherwise Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But he has appeared once for all at the culmination of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself.
Once for Always
God is just. He has an absolutely perfect standard of right and wrong, and he judges according to that standard. God’s justice means that sin must be punished, and everything must be made right.
In the centuries before Jesus came, God had his people celebrate the Day of Atonement to balance the scales. On that day, the High Priest walked into the innermost room of the temple and stood before God with blood from animal sacrifices. That blood atoned for (that is, covered up) the sins of him and his people.
And the scales were balanced for a time. But every year, there was another Day of Atonement, and the high priest did the exact same thing that he had done the year before, over and over again for over a thousand years.
Why the repetition? Because God’s justice was not satisfied by killing animals. So why did God tell them to do it? Because the Day of Atonement was a picture of the one sacrifice that would balance the scales.
It pointed ahead to what Jesus would do. Jesus is our High Priest. He appeared for us in God’s presence, not with an animal sacrifice, but with the sacrifice of himself. And Jesus did not offer that sacrifice over and over again. He only offered it once.
And after Christ offered himself on the cross, God gave his verdict on Jesus’ sacrifice by raising him from the dead three days later. That was a clear indication of God’s verdict: sin has been taken away, forever! We do not need the yearly sacrifices of the Day of Atonement. We have been saved, once for always!
Lord, it is impossible for the blood of animals to take away sins. But the blood of Jesus, your Son, purifies me from all sin. Thank you. Amen.