The Power of Sacrifice | Hebrews 9

Welcome to Real Life. I'm thinking about sacrifice. A fitting topic for Memorial Day Weekend.
People who put themselves on the line and sacrifice their own safety for the greater good and for others, and anyone in any profession whose concern is the welfare for other people instead of the individual, are inspiring and important.
Chris Hemsworth 
We’re a contradiction. In a culture averse to violence, it saturates our entertainment, and erupts all around us. Mass shootings are on the increase. Heroes emerge. Riley, a student at the North Carolina college.[1] Lori, a woman in the California synagogue.[2] Two ordinary individuals place themselves in harm’s way so others may live. We marvel at their bravery. In the same circumstances, would I be brave, selfless, willing to shed my blood?

“Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” John the Baptist exclaims at first sight of Jesus. The crowd who overhears him understands the metaphor. For every year, the high priest enters the Most Holy Place with a sacrifice of blood—the blood of a spotless lamb—to cover the sins of the people.

But today, we don’t readily understand. Why did Jesus shed his blood? I asked the Lord for a modern equivalent to help me comprehend it. The mass shooting heroes first came to mind. The innocent shed their blood so others could live. Then, the following day, I saw Avengers End Game. In this epic saga, saving the world came down to the sacrifice of one man.

And just as each person is destined to die once and after that comes judgment,
so also Christ was offered once for all time as a sacrifice
to take away the sins of many people.
He will come again, not to deal with our sins,
but to bring salvation to all who are eagerly waiting for him.
Hebrews 9:27-28 NLT

A lamb’s blood is powerless to cleanse sins.[3] Rather, the yearly sacrifice amplified the reality of sin and the debt it incurs. Our God is merciful. He is also just. Justice requires payment for transgression. We understand this. Should the latest mass murderer walk free? Of course not. Justice requires payment.

I have murdered no one. But I have transgressed. And I’ll bet you have, too. Selfishness. Lying. Lust. Rage. Slander. Gossip. Immorality. Stealing. Prejudice. Gluttony. Greed. Jealousy. Laziness. Need I continue?

What God requires—payment for transgression—he provides. He put on flesh. He took our bullet. He shed his blood so the world could live. Not simply free and safe from harm on earth, but eternally with God. The Marvel hero held open the door to life on earth. Jesus opens the door to life forever. Because without the shedding of blood—there is no forgiveness.[4]

Lord Jesus,
Help us comprehend your sacrifice.
You are the Lamb of God.
The innocent one who shed his blood.
Thank you for suffering in our place, paying our debt,
And giving us life by laying down your own.
We love you, Jesus. Amen.

We thank all who have served our country. Unlike the Avengers, you are real heroes. You have placed yourselves in harm's way, surrendered your freedom to ensure ours, and even sacrificed your lives to protect us. We honor you! We remember you this Memorial Day. 

[3] Hebrews 10:4
[4] Hebrews 9:22

Helmsworth quote
Image of Lamb by Joanna Atkinson
Image of Cross from Free Bible Images


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