It appears that the readers of this letter were followers of Jesus who weren’t living as though they were truly convinced that Jesus was worth following. This seems to be the purpose the author had in writing the letter, to convince his readers to follow Jesus wholeheartedly. The author’s strategy for presenting truth to his readers is a brilliant one. He knew that the most compelling case he could present would be to convince his Jewish readers that Jesus was the fulfillment of every single inch of the covenant that God had promised for hundreds of years. And so, piece-by-piece and step-by-step, he has set about doing just that. He has shown that Jesus is the better Moses and better than the high priest Melchizedek. In chapter eight he explained why the new covenant of Jesus was better than the old covenant. In chapter nine he showed why the Heavenly sanctuary of Jesus was superior to the earthly sanctuary of old. Now in chapter ten he argues that Jesus is a superior sacrifice. He offers three reasons why this is true:
The old way of sacrifice doesn’t work. The author says, “it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.” In contrast, the sacrifice of Jesus actually covers our sin, because the sinless Jesus is truly sufficient to cover sinful man.
The old way of sacrifice was temporary. The author says, “in the sacrifices there is a reminder of sins year after year,” meaning that the ritual sacrifice of burnt offerings only served as a stopgap. In contrast, the sacrifice of Jesus is permanent. “But [Jesus], after offering one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God.” The eternal, perfect Jesus died once for all. As He died on the cross He declared, “it is finished!”
The old way of sacrifice was merely a forerunner to the future sacrifice of Jesus. The author says, “the law has only a shadow of the good things to come, and not the reality itself of those things.” It was always God’s plan to sacrificially save sinners through the shed blood of Jesus on the cross. The entire covenant, sanctuary, and sacrificial system of old was merely a “shadow” of the truly good thing, Jesus, that was coming.
Once again, in order to further convince his Jewish audience, the author cements his case by citing the prophecy of old. He points his readers to the messianic Psalm 40, which says, “You did not desire sacrifice and offering, but you prepared a body for me.” Ultimately, God’s desire is not for us to make burnt offerings for our sin. Instead, He gave us His own body, and in doing so He fulfilled every single inch of the covenant God had promised to the Jews for hundreds of years.
Since the law has only a shadow of the good things to come, and not the reality itself of those things, it can never perfect the worshipers by the same sacrifices they continually offer year after year.
Old Testament References
- Leviticus 1-10
- Psalm 40:6-8
- Jeremiah 31:33-34
- John 6:47-58
- Acts 1:6-11
- James 1:19-27
- Have you had seasons in your life when you didn’t live as though what you believed was true? Why do you think this happens? How do you handle these areas of your life?
- Are you tempted to believe you are saved by your works, rather than by God’s grace through the sacrificial blood of Jesus?
- What are you thankful for? How does God’s generosity toward you inspire more gratitude and generosity in your life?
Make a list of areas in your life where your words or actions don’t line up with what you say you believe. As you reflect on these areas, give some consideration as to why you make the choices you make. Are you struggling to trust God? Are you dealing with sin? Do you need someone to walk alongside you? Take some time to pray over your list, asking God to show you how you can move forward in a healthier way.
[expand title=”Life Group Questions”]
- Take a few minutes to read aloud the Scripture from Hebrews 10:1-18. What truths about God can be understood from these passages? What observations can be made about people? What questions come to mind?
- Consider your faith in Jesus. Do you feel like you’re in a rut? Has the “new car smell” of your faith worn off? How has your level of excitement and energy for your faith changed over time?
- If you are in Christ, you are in the process of being changed to be more like Christ. How has God changed you? What work is He doing in your life right now? How are you different from the way you were before you followed Jesus?
- Is there a Bible passage that you continually return to for encouragement? Share it with your group. Why is the truth from this Bible passage so meaningful to you?