Sermon on Hebrews 9:24-28
Text: For Christ did not enter a sanctuary made with human hands that was only a copy of the true one; he entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God’s presence. 25 Nor did he 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. 26 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. 27 Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, 28 so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.
During World War Two, the Japanese forces overran the South Pacific, including the Philippines. The Allied forces had to retreat from the area. Before his departure, General Douglas MacArthur uttered those famous words, “I shall return.” It took a couple of years, but eventually, General MacArthur was able to make good on his promise. He returned to finish the job he had started. This morning, we want to consider another promise to return. As our thoughts turn to Last Judgement, we are reminded that CHRIST WILL APPEAR A SECOND TIME 1. Not To Do What He Has Already Done, 2. But To Bring Us What He Has Won.
This morning we are going to focus our attention on the last two verses of our text, especially as we keep in mind the Sunday of the church year. In verse 27, we read, “Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment.” Those words could very well strike terror into the heart of the hearer. Death is the circumstance of life of which man has no control and which, though he try to forget, he cannot avoid. People, in general, don’t like to think about or talk about death. However, it is a fact of life. People die. What makes death so serious is the fact that judgement immediately follows. At death’s moment, God’s verdict is pronounced. Judgement follows immediately after death.
Death and judgement strike terror, especially when we think of the reason that there is death in the world. As Paul reminds us in Romans 5:12, “Just as sin entered the world through one man and death through sin.” When Adam and Eve sinned, death made its entrance into the world. Death is a very visible reminder of sin in the world and, indeed, in our lives. Elsewhere, it says in Scripture, “The one who sins is the one who will die.” (Ezekiel 18:4)
Death and judgement might remind us of all of the times we have sinned against God. Each of us has our own laundry list of sins that we have done. There are the sins of anger, greed, lust that run through our minds. There are the sins of lies, gossip, or hurtful words that come from our mouths. There are the sins of stealing, laziness, hurting others that our bodies produce. We sin against our families, friends, people in the community, and congregation. We sin against God in so many ways. If we were to stand before God at the moment of our death, or the Last Day, if it should come first, we would have every reason to be terrified. For our God is a just God who could do nothing less than condemn us to hell for all eternity.
Yet, thanks be to Jesus, we don’t need to sidestep the issues of death and judgement. Indeed, verse 28 continues, “Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many.” This is why we don’t fear Christ’s return on the Last Day. Christ was sacrificed once to take away our sin. The Son of God became a human being to serve as our Savior. He became a human being so that he could live under the Law in our place. Never once did Jesus go against his Father’s will. Never once did he sin against those around him. Jesus was perfect.
Then, he humbly bowed himself to his Father’s will and allowed himself to be sacrificed for us. The altar upon which the sacrifice took place was the cross. There Jesus’ blood was poured out for the sins of all people. When we hear the word sacrifice, we think of giving up something for someone else’s sake. Parents make sacrifices for their children. We may sacrifice of our free time to help others. But what Jesus sacrificed for our good, for our benefit, was his own life. When he died, he did so that our sins would be forgiven. He sacrificed himself so that our account before God might be paid in full.
We want to focus our attention on one word in this verse, and that one word is “once.” What Jesus did for us during his life on the earth, his suffering and death was all sufficient for our salvation. There is nothing that we could do to add to our salvation. Nothing was needed except Jesus’ sacrifice. What an insult to say that there are certain things that we must do in order to be saved. That’s telling Jesus that he didn’t quite finish the job. But, if we feel that we add anything to our salvation, we lose everything. If we think that we add anything, God says that we must do it all and, of course, we cannot.
What great joy and comfort we find in the word “once.” Jesus has done it all for me. I don’t ever have to wonder if I’ve done it right or done enough. Jesus was sacrificed once for sin and I, having been brought to faith, receive the full benefits of it.
Continuing in verse 28, we find the words, “[Jesus] will appear a second time.” Why? Why will Jesus appear a second time? It cannot be to finish his work of salvation. Jesus, himself, said on the cross, “It is finished.” His work of saving people has been completed. So that is not the reason Christ will appear a second time.
There is also a notion that is popular today that says that Jesus will appear a second time to usher in the millennium or one-thousand-year reign of peace. Often, people will teach that there will be a Rapture, or a taking out the believers from the world. Then, at the end of those thousand years, Christ will return a third time, and then Judgement Day will occur. This teaching is found nowhere in Scriptures. Nowhere does it talk about Jesus coming to the earth a total of three times. Nowhere does it speak of there being a thousand year reign of peace by Christ here on the earth. These are all misunderstandings and misinterpretations of the Bible.
The reason Jesus will return a second time is told us in verse 28, “[Jesus] will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.” What does it mean when it says that he will “bring salvation?” Earlier we said that Jesus’ work of saving all people was completed. What is being spoken of here is that “those who are waiting for him,” that is the believers, will receive the full enjoyment of salvation. Yes, we are saved right now, but often we face trouble and sorrow. Our lives are still tainted by sin. When Jesus returns for us on the Last Day, we, both body and soul, will receive all of the things we hoped for when Christ takes us to heaven.
Jesus won heaven for us when he completed his work of salvation. On the Last Day, he will bring us to the joys of heaven. How beautifully heaven is described in God’s Word. When you read through the Bible again and again the joy that waits for us is described. At that time, we will be permanently rescued from all the trouble, worries and cares of this life. We will finally be free to serve our God as we wish, without the taint of sin. We will be able to praise our God without end. Jesus will appear a second time to bring us to what he has won for us.
When we read the accounts that Jesus has given us of the Last Day, we may find the pictures to be frightening. After all, it speaks of the sun being darkened and stars falling from the sky. But we don’t have to be afraid. As Jesus says in Luke 21:28, “When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” Jesus will return to take us to be with him for all eternity. And, if we should be called from this earth before the end of the world, we can also face this with great certainty. Jesus said in John 14:19, “Because I live, you also will live.” Because of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, we know that our sins have been forgiven and that, one day, we will rise again. That day is the Last Day, or Judgement Day. Then Jesus will appear a second time not to do what he has already done, but to bring us to what he has won. To this we say, “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.” Amen.
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