Today’s reading starts climbing to the sermon’s climax. We’ll see Jesus’ superiority clearly established, we’ll see the superiority of faith established, leading toward a strong encouragement to persevere in the face of the persecution they were dealing with. In what ways is Christ superior? Well, to recap a few…
- He is a superior word
- He is superior as both God and man
- He is superior in that He is the perfect high priest mediator
- He is superior to Moses as a Son is superior to a servant
- He offers a superior rest
- He is a superior high priest to Aaron
- He serves in a superior “tabernacle”
- He offers a superior hope
- He offers a superior sacrifice
- He is the initiator of a superior covenant
- And today, a once for all sacrifice with superior blood for cleansing.
Blood of bulls and goats — 10:4
The substitutionary sacrifice of animals was what God had required for sin, since (it would appear) the initial fall of man. But the blood of animals was not really sufficient to expiate sins; animals were innocent, but not willing. Jesus’ blood, on the other hand, was superior because of Who He is, but also because He was both innocent and willing. His blood doesn’t serve as a reminder (v.3) of sins as the animal sacrifice did, but caused our sins to be remembered no more (v.17). And therefore, we may draw near, to the real holy place, with a sincere heart and clean conscience, because of this superior blood. Thus, going back to the shadow of the Temple and the Mosaic covenant makes no sense at all. To a modern Gentile who might be considering falling away to something else, consider the Lord Jesus Christ’s superiority; as a Christian you have found the one and only way to God and Heaven, as much greater than anything else as the earth from the sky – no brag, just fact.
We are not of those who shrink back to destruction — 10:39
And beyond the positive reasons for staying with Christianity, there are also the warnings.
- There no longer remains a sacrifice for sins
- A certain terrifying expectation of judgment
- Severer punishment for those who have trampled underfoot the blood of the covenant and insulted the Spirit of grace
- God will avenge
And so, in answer to the question about whether or not they would be faithful, the writer is certain that his Hewish Christian audience would stand in their Christian faith, tithe preservation of their souls, rather than shrink back to destruction. May it be so with us.
Without faith — 11:6
It is impossible to please God without faith. Though there will always be folks who will demand sight — tangible, empirical proof of God — getting to Heaven is about faith based on evidence. And this faith will never be about a mere opinion. It will always be naturally accompanied by godly behavior — good morality, benevolent deeds, love, mercy, generosity, forgiveness, etc. Too many in our world – too many in the ancient world, too – think that holding an opinion about Jesus is enough, confessing him with the mouth is sufficient, that calling oneself a disciple will “do the trick”. But saving faith, real faith, always prompts deeds. We’ll see more on this in James, but in the meantime let’s look at what faith does…
What does faith do — 11:13-40
- It remains faithful events death like Abel, v. 4
- It builds an ark for – what? – rain (what’s that?), v. 7
- It leaves home to go a place God would show, v. 8-12
- It lives as aliens and strangers, v. 13
- It passes the tests, v. 17
- It looked forward to the promised future reward, v. 20
- It stands up to mighty kings, v. 27
- It does the impossible, v. 29
- It conquers the impregnable, v. 30
- It abandons old loyalties to follow God, v. 31
- It gains approval from God
See you tomorrow, Lord willing.