“Yet not I but Christ in me”.
I am not worthy to gather up the crumbs under your table Lord, but I come trusting in your righteousness and grace.
“Yes Ian, that is the mystery, the secret of the abundant life. The realization that all of you which is not worthy of Me has been put to death with Christ and you are living a new life, a life ‘in Me’ – you have been set free from the bondage to sin, to yourself and all your efforts to attain righteousness by yourself. Free to leave all the influences of the ‘flesh’ behind and to walk by the Spirit in your whole life. This entails a continual mind-shift – reminding yourself so that you can live in that freedom – live to sow to the Spirit – so that you can reap eternal life. Yet not I but through Christ in me.”
Now back to Hebrews 9:16-28. The writer comes to the important issue of the blood mentioned so often and shed so often under the Old Covenant. What exactly was the role of that blood. It is maybe a little difficult to put it into words.
Blood in the bible equates with death. Here the writer tries to show how a will is not valid till the person who made it dies. It therefore represented a statement saying what has been promised can now be put into action. So it was used as a symbolic act of putting into effect the statutes and promises of the Old Covenant. It is a little difficult to see how the blood actually was intended to indicate cleansing during all ritual cleansing of all things. However what is clear is that the death of a substitute was essential to the symbolism of cleansing and forgiveness of sin allowing the high priest to enter into the sanctuary, once a year. So the understanding was that a death was required to make this cleansing possible. What is clear in this argument is that all that blood was just a picture looking forward to a much greater event.
What was that event? Well the blood was the representation of the death of Jesus who through His death showed that He had entered into the vey presence of God (V 24). Now a word about “Jesus’ blood”. I sometimes get the idea that people believe that His blood has a mystical power of its own. Prayers crying out for God to cover events and people with the blood of Christ. Its important to note that the blood of Christ symbolizes His death on the cross on our behalf and has no separate significant power. So when we sing “There is power, power, wonderworking power in the blood of the Lamb…” What is actually meant is there is power in (Christ’s death, symbolized by) the blood of the lamb.
The most important part of this argument is wrapped up in the last two verses of our chapter: 9:27,28. They link with the simple phrase in 9:12 “once for all, by His own blood”. there are three things mentioned here which are “once for all” and need not and cannot be repeated.
- Man is destined to die once, then comes the judgement.
- Christ has died once to take away the sins of many people.
- He will appear a second time, but only once, this time to complete the work of salvation, which we have said all along is the main theme of the letter.
So there friends is a summary of the whole argument since 8:1 which is actually the gospel in a nutshell. No more fancy rituals and rites. No more fancy religious talk, just those 3 simple statements. Mankind has over the years so often tried to ‘move on’ and in the process has made the gospel more and more complicated till it is no longer the gospel anymore. Speak to you? Did to me.