Beyond the Shadow (Hebrews 10)

*Easter Message 2013Easter bulletin 2013

MOTIVATE

Easter is the opportunity to remind us the power of death is only a shadow. A little child plays outside under the sunshine and sees his shadow becomes intrigued by its movement. The shadow follows the child’s every move (arm, leg, head, body), he cannot escape his shadow. The only way he can escape the shadow is to turn his eyes directly to the light – but he cannot for its brightness. The child’s only solution is some sort of mediation between himself and the sunlight.

And so it is with God. We cannot escape death. It hovers over and sometimes haunts us. Our only hope is to turn to God for eternal life but we cannot because of His holiness. We need a mediator. God sent His only Son, Jesus Christ to cover our sin and shame that we may have confidence to look to God and linger in His presence.

As we contemplate the meaning of the Easter story we must not do so as individuals reading a book but as a cast of actual characters in the plot. This is the true message of Easter – the intersection of our lives with the entrance of Jesus’ life.

Likewise, the Bible is more than a book of history but a book telling the story of HIS-STORY; God interacting with humankind in relationship with us today. Jesus is the scarlet thread holding together the fabric of each Bible book; from Genesis to Revelation.

 

EXAMINE                           “Beyond the Shadow” (Hebrews 10:1-18)

Rote religion is a shadow of a relationship with God (10:1-4).

The Bible has a phrase that often refers to the OT in general or perhaps specifically to the 10 Commandments: “the law”. In essence, the law speaks to God’s commandments (rules) and regulations for life. Much of the law is prescriptive – do this exactly; a summary descriptive word could be “religion”. By itself religion is a reflection of one’s relationship, describing the duties and actions of one relating in spiritual devotion.

The author of Hebrews speaks about the OT sacrificial system, continually offered every year {impressive devotion} to perfect [τελέω], or make right for the forgiveness of sins, those who draw near to God. The logic is clear: the religious sacrifices were reminders that the consequences of sin were repeating continuously; “for it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins” (10:3-4).

Micah 6:6-8 “With what shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before God on high? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?” He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? “

Illus: Grocery list vs. Grocery random. When I go to the grocery store I do so with a plan – a list! If I do not have a list then inevitably I will forget what I need. However, as our family has grown I find that my “list” continually grows and almost becomes impossible to complete; there is always something else to get. LIKEWISE, God’s law is like such a grocery or ‘to do’ list. Regardless of how many good works and religious deeds you perform, you will always fall short of God’s religious perfection and holy character.

In fact, the Bible reveals this purpose of the law as a shadow of what is to come:

Galatians 3:23-26 “Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. So then, the law was our guardian [tutor]  until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith.”

Colossians 2:16-17 “Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.”

Romans 3:21-22 “But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it—the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe.”

µ     Law is like a dashboard warning on car indicating system failure; in life as conscience to indicate our  sinfulness and need for Savior.

ð     What are you relying on for acceptance with God?

µ     SPBC Love God, Love Others, Lead Generations. Our church seeks to not go through the motions in coming, singing, listening, reading, praying, etc… we sincerely want to love God and love people that has impact and legacy in leading future generations.

 

Jesus’ journey must become my journey for renewal & resurrection (10:5-18)

The shadow of the law is revealing the “good things” to come. As the OT sacrificial system provided a measure of grace, it did not provide complete removal of sins but simply foreshadowed the full and final sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ’s death on the cross is “good news” (gospel) because it is not necessary to continue making sacrifices in hope of forgiveness and acceptance before God; it is finished.

When Christ entered the world…

Jesus’ substitutionary life: He lived the righteous life required of everyone

–    v.5-6 “sacrifices and offerings you have not desired” – this is the entire Levitical priesthood

–    v.5,7 “a body [ears] you have prepared for me…Behold, I have come to do your will” – this refers to the perfect obedience (hearing) of the Son.

Jesus was not afraid to get His hands dirty. He personally involved himself in mankind’s greatest problem – sin. Jesus stepped up, stood in, and substituted himself for you. Other priests offer sacrifices but Jesus offered himself as the sacrifice to embody our sin and punishment. He became sin that we may become righteous. He took all our garbage and recycled it into something beautiful. Jesus suffered so we could have comfort. Jesus endured pain so we could have peace. Jesus died so we could live. He is our full and final substitute. THIS IS good news; like none other than human history or world religion has ever known. Jesus is Savior and the risen Lord.

Jesus substitutionary death: He died the death required of everyone

    v.9 “He does away with the first in order to establish the second” – Jesus destroyed the sin debt
(Colossians 2:13)

    v.10 “we have been sanctified (ἅγιος – ἡγιασμένοι) through the offering of the body of Jesus once for all”

–    v.11-12 Priests stood in offering sacrifices and never sat down. In fact, there were no chairs for him to sit. The reason was because a priests work was never finished, continually performing sacrifices for ongoing sins of the people.
In CONTRAST – Jesus sat down at the right hand of God. His work was complete through a single offering and perfected for all time; it is finished (τελέω; John 19:30)

–    v.14 “he has perfected (past tense) for all time those who are being sanctified (present tense)” – Jesus’ salvation is completed with nothing left to work for but only that must be worked in/out of our lives; our salvation guarantees we are being sanctified.

Jesus was crucified & died.

Crucifixion was the most painful mode of execution reserved for the most despised criminals.[1] Jews viewed crucifixion as being under God’s curse.[2] The agony of crucifixion is due to the fact of its prolonged means of death. Those crucified would often hang on a cross for days, passing in and out of consciousness as their lungs struggled to breathe, while laboring under the weight of their dying body. Due to the fact that timber was so expensive, the wood of the cross was typically recycled wood, therefore layered with the blood and sweat of many others.

The crucifixion process was started with the victim being stripped naked, humiliated and then attached his hands and feet across a wooden beam to expose the victim’s bare back. A Lictor, a professional executioner, would yield a cat-o’-nine tails, which was a whip with tentacle-like straps having heavy scraps of metal, bone and glass attached to the end of the straps. The intention of the Lictor was to tenderize the flesh of the shoulders, backs, buttocks and legs of the victim. As skin, muscle, tendons and even bones were ripped off the victim some would die from this scourging itself.

After this scourging, there was placed on Jesus head crown of thorns. Long thorns that would pierce into his forehead, ears, brow and even skull.

All of this was done publicly, thereby bringing utter shame and making an utter spectacle of the victim. Sweaty, sun-baked, nailed naked to a cross, bloodied and body fluids oozing was an atrocious sight. The crowds gathering around this sight today would be like viewing an execution in front of a local mall. Females were mostly withheld from this form of execution but when such they were turned to face the cross so the public did not have to view a woman’s facial expressions, as it was harsher to see females suffer. In fact, today we have the painful word – excruciating – which literally means “from the cross”.

On this cross, nails/spikes were driven into Jesus’ hands and feet – the most sensitive nerve centers on the human body. He was then lifted up as the cross was placed into a pre-dug hole. Further mockery would take place as the crowd hurled insults and spat into his face.

Jesus says, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23).

Jesus’ journey of substitution has been labeled “the great exchange” in that “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21). Other religions show ways mankind tries to purify their own lives and reach God. Christianity shows God intervening himself into the world of mankind in order to reach them. This is the message of Christmas and Easter wrapped into one gift, giving to us directly from God.

Today, Jesus is no longer on a cross but wearing a crown in heaven. He is sitting at the right hand of God. God was pleased with His sacrifice. The resurrection is God’s sure approval. Jesus is the resurrected King of kings and Lord of lords, “waiting until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet” (Hebrews 10:13).

Life beyond the shadow…

APPLY/THINK

Earlier I mentioned we should contemplate Easter not as individuals reading a book but as a cast of actual characters in the plot.

So here is the question: What journey are you on? Where are you headed?

–    Journey of “self” is a fleeting freedom but in the end it is not the freedom you want or NEED.

–    Journey of Jesus is a final freedom you cannot fully imagine

  • Possessed by God’s Spirit (Hebrews 10:16)
  • Pardoned from sin (Hebrews 10:17)
    • Record is wiped clean; “remember their sins and lawless deeds no more”
  • No condemnation (Romans 8:1)
  • Free indeed (John 8:36)

Starts with Faith leading to Repentance


[1] Much of the following information on crucifixion comes from Driscoll’s Death by Love pp 17-34, and sermon “The Cross: God Dies”, along with John Stott’s The Cross of Christ.

[2] Deuteronomy 21:23

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