St. John's & Zion Lutheran Churches

Jesus Offered One Complete And Full Sacrifice

Sermon on Hebrews 10:11-18

Text: 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. 12 But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, 13 and since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool. 14 For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.
15 The Holy Spirit also testifies to us about this. First he says: 16 “This is the covenant I will make with them after that time, says the Lord. I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds.” 17 Then he adds: “Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.” 18 And where these have been forgiven, sacrifice for sin is no longer necessary.

There are many things in life that we have to do over and over again. We can all relate to that. There are things that have to be done every day or at least often around the house such as cooking meals, doing dishes, laundry and cleaning. It seems like you just get them done and you have to do them all over again. There are chores that have to be done every day, such as feeding the livestock. Students understand this. You finish your spelling, math, English, history assignment and there’s another one that needs to be done. Day after day we do the same things. Once we’re finished, that same tasks need to be done all over again. We never seem to accomplish anything. However, as we study our text this morning, we are encouraged to look at Jesus. He really did accomplish something — our salvation. With that, then, we study this portion of God’s Word under the theme: JESUS OFFERED ONE COMPLETE AND FULL SACRIFICE. 1. Human Efforts Are But Repetition. 2. Jesus Brings Us Full, Complete and Certain Forgiveness.

To help us more fully appreciate what is being taught here, we need to go back to the original purpose of the book. The author of the book, whomever he may have been, was writing to Jewish people who had become Christians. A great persecution of Christians was occurring and, apparently, there were people who wanted to abandon Christianity and return to Judaism, which was a legal religion. Throughout the letter, the author shows the superiority of Christianity and that the Old Testament had pointed ahead to what Christ would do.

This last point is quite obvious in our section of God’s Word this morning. We read verse 11, “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.” Note that three times in this verse the emphasis: #1 “Day after day,” #2 “Again and again,” and #3 “never.” The writer to the Hebrews calls attention to the sacrifices performed by the priests. These sacrifices were commanded by God to be done. The priest was to take a clean, perfect animal, in the case of a sin offering a bull or lamb, and kill it and place the entire animal on the altar. The sacrifice was to be burnt up. A sin offering could be done for an individual. It was done daily for the Israelite community.

The priest was bound by Old Testament levitical law to repetition, to repeating sacrifices again and again, sacrificing animal after animal. What was the result? “He offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins.” The end result of all this work, of all of these sacrifices, was that it did no good. The sin was still there. These sacrifices, in themselves, accomplished nothing.

Such will always be the case when man tries to work out their own salvation. No matter how hard he tries, even if he is following God’s commands, he cannot accomplish his salvation. People have come up with all sorts of things that they are either to do or not to do and, should they follow them, they will have gained something. Any time any part of my salvation depends on me and my actions, I am lost forever.

Nothing I do can ever “take away sin.” The reason for that is because there is sin in the first place. If I have sinned even once, if only in the slightest way according to the world’s standards, that is enough to send me to hell for all eternity. No amount of what I do can ever save me. It’s just repetition. It accomplishes nothing, just like all of those Old Testament sacrifices.

This, then, begs the question: ‘Why did God command all of those Old Testament sacrifices, if they accomplished nothing at all?’. The reason is that all of these sacrifices pointed ahead to Jesus. While none of these sacrifices did any permanent good, they did point ahead to Jesus and what he would do for sinful mankind. We see that progression as we read verses 12-14, “But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, and since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool. For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.”

You may recall that in verse 11 we spoke of the fact that three times the emphasis was placed on repetition. Now in verse 12, we also have a thought repeated three times and that thought is the one-time nature of Christ’s work: #1 “one sacrifice for sins,” #2 “for all time,” and #3 “he sat down at the right hand of God.” All of these tell us that Christ’s work was completed.

All of the Old Testament sacrifices pointed ahead to the sacrifice of the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ. Only he could give such a sacrifice that could do so much, that could do what all of the Old Testament sacrifices could never do, which is to take away the sins of people. Why could his sacrifices accomplish so much? It is because Jesus was the one offering, the sacrifice. He, the Son of God, became true Man, so that he could serve as our Savior. He was true Man so that he would be under the Law’s demands, as you and I are, but, because he is true God, he was able to keep it perfectly, without sin. He also had to be true God and true Man as the sacrifice which was offered, for Jesus was not only the priest offering the sacrifice, but the sacrifice himself. As the familiar words of the communion hymn go, “Himself the victim and Himself the priest.” Our great High Priest, Jesus Christ, offered himself as a sacrifice to pay for all of our sins. What all of those Old Testament sacrifices could never do, no matter how often they were repeated, Jesus Christ did with one sacrifice. He paid for the sins of all people.

God has forgiven our sins because of the sacrifice of his Son on the altar of the cross. Let us spend a few moments and talk about God’s forgiveness of our sins. A good place to start is to think about our forgiveness of others when they harm us. They say, “I’m sorry,” and we say, “It’s OK. You’re forgiven.” But, how often don’t we keep a running tab of wrongs done against us? Yes, we’ve said that they were forgiven, but we can’t wait for the time when they get theirs. Compare that to God’s forgiveness for the sake of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. The writer to the Hebrews quotes Jeremiah 31:34, “I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” Here God says he will not remember our sins and lawlessness. It’s not because God has a faulty memory. It is because of Jesus’ sacrifice. Jesus paid our entire debt before God. Because the debt has been paid in full, God has taken those sins and put them off to the side. Never again are they brought to his remembrance as if we should be punished for them. God has forgiven us and he holds no grudges. You are forgiven.

To again remind us of the full, complete and certain forgiveness that is ours, the writer to the Hebrews adds, “Where these have been forgiven, sacrifice for sin is no longer necessary.” (Verse 18) Since Jesus has gained forgiveness for these sins — without exception — there is no longer any need whatsoever for sacrifice for anyone. Jesus made the one-time, complete sacrifice that makes unnecessary any future sacrifices. Since Jesus has made this sacrifice and God has declared us forgiven, there is nothing that needs to be added on our part for our salvation. Indeed, even the faith that receives this gracious promise of God is not our own doing. This, too, is a gift from God. The Holy Spirit works through the Means of Grace, which is the Gospel in Word and Sacraments, that is Baptism and the Lord’s Supper, to create and strengthen our faith. Jesus had done it all for us. We are saved. Our sins have been forgiven. To God be all glory!

This Sunday in the church year is called Saints Triumphant. This Sunday has been set aside as we consider the end time to emphasize the eternal glory of the saints in heaven. Those who have died in the faith are even now enjoying all the bliss of heaven. This all stems from what Jesus has done for us. How differently Christians can face the hour of their death than those without faith. The best they can hope for is that there is nothing after death. The worst they can imagine is that their conscience was right all the time and he will be held accountable for all of their sins. Contrast that with the Christian who knows that, although he has sinned, that Christ has paid for them all. He has this sure knowledge that he stands holy in God’s sight, that heaven is waiting for him. This knowledge is his because Jesus has given this full, complete and certain forgiveness. This forgiveness is his because Jesus offered one complete and full sacrifice for his sin. This knowledge has buoyed up many a Christian as they face the end of their lives. God gives us this assurance, as well. Because we have been forgiven, we can say with great confidence that, when we pass from this vale of tears, we know that we will be in heaven together with those who have gone before us. Trust this and be comforted by it, for Jesus loves you and gives you proof of that love by his complete sacrifice so that you might have life eternal. We praise our Savior for all that he has given to us. Amen.