“Shadows and Realities” – Hebrews 10:1-14

December 16th, 2018

Hebrews 10:1-14

“Shadows and Realities”

Aux. Text: Col 2:16-23

Call to Worship: Psalm 40


Service OrientationThe Law, the priesthood, the sacrifices, Moses, Abraham and everything else in the Older Testament were mere shadows.  The reality is Jesus.   Seek the Way.   Seek Truth.  Seek Life.  Seek reality.  Seek Jesus the Way to God.


Bible Memory Verse for the Week:  Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.”  — John 14:6


Background Information:

  • (v. 4) Underscore the word impossible. Notice that it wasn’t simply rendered impossible because of the death of Christ.  The context is referring to the limitations of the sacrifices under the OT Law itself.  It has always been impossible for the blood of animal sacrifices to take away sins.

If the sacrifices did anything permanently, it was to remind the people of Israel of their sinfulness.  Just as a speed limit sign reminds us of the law, and a speeding ticket reminds us of our guilt, the Law and the sacrifices stood as a constant reminder of sin (Rom 3:20-23).  Under the old system, Israel’s national sins accumulated daily over the course of the year; then the sacrifices of the Day of Atonement temporarily covered them.  They accumulated again the next year; the Day of Atonement covered them again.  The old covenant kept kicking the can down the road, so to speak.  (Charles R. Swindoll, Swindoll’s Living Insights: Hebrews, 148)

  • (v. 5) “But a body you prepared for me” (Heb 10:5) as opposed to “my ears you have pierced” (Psa 40:6).
  • (v. 10) Apart from the last chapter of Hebrews, where the combination Jesus Christ appears twice (13:8, 21), the double name occurs only once in the instructional part of the epistle–in the present context. The writer wants to stress that both the human (Jesus) and the divine (Christ) natures were involved in making us holy.  Moreover, Jesus Christ performed the act of sanctification in our behalf by sacrificing his body.  This is the only place in the epistle where the author mentions the bodily sacrifice of Jesus.  The purpose for the stress on the “sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ” is to demonstrate the reality of his physical death.  It is also a reflection of the Septuagint wording of the psalm citation, “but a body you prepared for me” (Heb 10:5).  (William Hendriksen & Simon J. Kistemaker, NT Commentary: Hebrews, 277)
  • (v. 12) We should notice further that to be seated at God’s right hand is to be in the place of highest honor. Even angels are not said to have attained to this; they stand in God’s presence (Lk 1:19).  When Jesus claimed this place for himself, the high priest tore his robe at what he regarded as blasphemy (Mk 14:62-63).  The author is combining with the thought of a finished work the idea that our Lord is a being of the highest dignity and honor.  (Frank E. Gæbelein, Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Vol. 12, 100-1)


The question to be answered is . . . How does Hebrews demonstrate the Law as a shadow and Christ the reality?


Answer: By showing that perfection (telos), holiness, eradication of sin and love and obedience come only through Christ; never through the Law.  Possessing perfection, holiness, sinlessness, as well as love and obedience is necessary to see God (beatific vision).  Therefore, Christ is our ONLY way to God.


A shadow can never claim to be a complete revelation of its object.  At best is can give only the barest outline of the reality.  Moreover, once the true form has been seen, the shadow becomes irrelevant.  This observation is used by the writer to stress once again the inadequacies of the old shadowy procedures.  (Donald Guthrie, Tyndale NT Commentaries: Hebrews, 201)


As Moses was admonished by God, &c.  This passage is found in Ex 25:40; and the Apostle adduces it here on purpose, so that he might prove that the whole service, according to the Law, was nothing more than a picture as it were, designed to shadow forth what is found spiritually in Christ.  God commanded that all the parts of the tabernacle should correspond with the original pattern, which had been shown to Moses on the Mount.  And if the form of the tabernacle had a reference to something else, then the same must have been the case as to the rituals and the priesthood; it hence follows that there was nothing real in them.  (John Calvin, Commentaries: Hebrews, 183)


The heavenly sanctuary is not an enhanced, improved version of the earthly.  Just the opposite.  The earthly was but a shadowy, a barely suggestive copy of the heavenly–which preceded the earthly by all eternity.  The gifts, the sacrifices, the sanctuary, and even the priests themselves served as copies and shadows of their heavenly counterparts.  (John MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur NT Commentary: Hebrews, 211)


Speaking of the sacrifices of the OT, the Psalmist had shown that he understood that they never were what God really willed: they were but the shadows pointing to something better, to a spiritual reality, a life in the body given up to the will of God, as a divine prophecy of what has now been revealed in Christ.  (Andrew Murray, The Holiest of All, 332)


The OT era was one of expectancy rather than arrival, and, as chapter 11 will declare, the godly of that era embraced the promises without seeing their fulfillment.  They were not, however, at a disadvantage compared with us, who look back to the completion of the promises in Christ (2 Cor 1:20), for we and they are made perfect together (Heb 11:13, 39).  (Philip Edgcumbe Hughes, A Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews, 393)


The Word for the Day is . . . Real


How does Hebrews demonstrate that the Law is a shadow and Christ is the reality?:

I-  The Law never brought perfection (telos); only Christ makes us perfect.  (Heb 10:1, 14; see also: Dt 18:13; 2 Sam 22:31-33; 1 Kgs 8:61; 1 Chr 28:9; Ps 18:32; Mt 5:48; 2 Cor 5:17, 21; Heb 2:10; 5:8-9; 7:11, 19; 10:14; 11:40; 12:2, 23)


Christians know they are not “perfect” in the sense of “no faults or failings.”  Yet, the term perfect, as used in Hebrews, carries the sense of “complete, whole, adequate, having arrived at a desired end.”  Insofar as Christ has perfected us for all time, it means that by his sacrifice he has made us completely adequate for a relationship with God by consecrating us.  We have arrived at the end that God desired to accomplish via his Son’s death on the cross.  His work to put us in right relationship with himself has been made complete.  (George H. Guthrie, The NIV Application Commentary: Hebrews, 334)


The law was but a shadow (10:1) and not the true form or image.  These old covenant sacrifices are not only shadows; they are ineffective, they cannot “make perfect” or bring to spiritual maturity of completion those who draw near.  In the teaching of this letter Christ’s work is brought to perfection or completion (2:10; 5:8) and this results in the completion of the perfect work of God in the heart and life of the believer.  The law “made nothing perfect;” sacrifices “cannot perfect the conscience of the worshiper.”  But by his sacrifice, Jesus “has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.”  (Raymond Brown, The Bible Speaks Today:  Hebrews, 174)


Animal sacrifices made no one “perfect.”  They brought no one to the goal of forgiveness of sin and fellowship with God.  (Richard E. Lauersdorf, The People’s Bible: Hebrews, 106)


Perfection, in a sense, is here already and is also not yet here.  We have this certainty, however, that we are perfected in Christ, who removed our sin by his sacrifice.  (William Hendriksen & Simon J. Kistemaker, NT Commentary: Hebrews, 282)


Once more the author emphasizes, “By one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.”  “Made perfect” he writes this time, using one of his favorite words.  In 2:10, 5:9, 10:14, 11:40, 12:23 he uses the verb.  In 6:1, 7:11, 12:2 it is the noun and in 9:11 the adjective, always with the thought of completeness in mind.  In this verse it is the thought of man being brought to the completeness which God had in mind for him.  Peace and pardon, harmony and heaven were God’s goal for man.  Believers or, as the author calls them, “Those who are being made holy” have been brought to this blessed goal.  (Richard E. Lauersdorf, The People’s Bible: Hebrews, 112)


II-  The Law makes us aware of our need to be holy; Christ makes us holy. (Heb 10:3, 10; see also: Ex 30:29; 31:13; Lv 11:44-45; 19:2; 20:7-8, 26; 22:32;  Ps 119:9-11; Acts 15:9; 2 Cor 5:21; Gal 3:24; Col 2:10-23; 1 Pt 1:15-16; Heb 10:14, 29)


Those whom God brings to faith are spotless in his eyes.  Not one shred of contamination clings to them, not one ounce of condemnation weighs upon them.  They are the “saints” of whom the NT speaks.  “But,” the author reminds his readers, “such an exalted position comes only through Christ’s sacrifice.  LOOK AT HIM!”  (Richard E. Lauersdorf, The People’s Bible: Hebrews, 110)


Something more is achieved by Christ’s death than the removal of guilt.  We have been sanctified.  And the verb is in the perfect tense.  It is actually done.  Our sanctification is perfectly accomplished by Christ for all time.  (Raymond Brown, The Bible Speaks Today:  Hebrews, 178)


Now mark:  the Jewish sacrifice was never intended to make the Jews’ moral character any better, and it did not.  It had no effect upon what we call his sanctification; all the sacrifice dealt with was his justification.  (Charles Spurgeon, Spurgeon Commentary: Hebrews, 268)


Once again our writer is leading us to Gethsemane (“Not my will, but thine”) and underlining the immense cost of our sanctification.  That pure and spotless body (7:26) was offered for us once for all.  Yet again that sentence to give it special emphasis.  Moreover, once for all may refer here not only to the sacrifice which has been offered, but the sanctification it has effected.  (Raymond Brown, The Bible Speaks Today:  Hebrews, 178)


Our pleasure and our duty, though opposite before,

Since we have seen His beauty, are joined to part no more

To see the Law by Christ fulfilled, and hear His pardon voice,

Transforms a slave into a child and duty into choice.                 — John Newton


By that will refers to the will of God which has just been mentioned in the quotation.  Its only complete fulfillment is seen in the perfect obedience of Christ.  The immediate effect is that we have been sanctified.  The idea seems to be that those in Christ have been so identified with him that in him they too have fulfilled the will of God.  This sense of solidarity with Christ is not as frequent in this epistle as in the epistles of Paul, but it is all the more striking in this context.  The sanctification process is one which has never been completed except in Christ.  Were it not for that the verb could not have been expressed as it is in the perfect tense.  Since Christ is perfectly sanctified through his perfect obedience to the will of God, it may be said that his sanctification is shared by all who believe.  (Donald Guthrie, Tyndale NT Commentaries: Hebrews, 206)


Year by year the sacrifices of the Tabernacle and especially of the Day of Atonement go on.  An effective thing does not need to be done again; the very fact of the repetition of these sacrifices is the final proof that they are not purifying men’s souls and not giving full and uninterrupted access to God.  Our writer goes further–he says that all they are is a reminder of sin.  So far from purifying a man, they remind him that he is not purified and that his sins still stand between him and God.  (William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible Series, Hebrews, 113)


Doing the will of God caused Jesus to pray in the agony he experienced in the Garden of Gethsemane, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done” (Lk 22:24).  Christ fully submitted to God’s will in perfect obedience.

And what is the effect of that will?  The author succinctly includes all believers by saying, “And by that will, we have been made holy.”  Salvation originates not in man, but in God.  By his will we are separated from the world and called to holiness.  The implication is that we were alienated from God and lived in a world of sin.  Because of God’s will, this has changed:  “we have been made holy.”  The verb indicates that at a given moment, someone acted in our behalf to sanctify us, and we have become pure.  The writer of Hebrews already referred to this act when he wrote of God’s will to make the author of salvation perfect through suffering.  “Both the one who makes man holy and those who are made holy are of the same family” (2:11).  The one who makes men holy is Jesus Christ.  (William Hendriksen & Simon J. Kistemaker, NT Commentary: Hebrews, 277)


III-  The sacrifices prescribed by the Law could never take away sin; Christ does.  (Heb 10:4, 11-14; see also: Isa 1:18-20; Jer 31:31-34; Jn 1:29; Rom 10:4; 2 Cor 5:21; Phil 3:8-9; Col 2:10-23;  Heb 1:3; 9:9)


His work on behalf of new covenant people covers all our sins, past and future, and covers them completely and for all time.  No sin is too great or too long in duration for Christ to forgive.  Our stumbling does not negate the work of Christ.  (George H. Guthrie, The NIV Application Commentary: Hebrews, 339)


As long as man has a fallen nature, it is guaranteed that he is going to “do his own thing.”  Therefore when God established the Law with its sacrifices, He knew man would never make himself holy by that means.  But man didn’t know it.  The OT program was set up to show man how bad he was.  The death of all those animals dramatized his sinfulness.  Everywhere you looked there was a demonstration of the truth. . . “The wages of sin is death.”  Sin, at its deepest root, is doing what WE want to do rather than what God wants us to do.  (C. S. Lovett, Lovett’s Lights on Hebrews, 214-5)


Sins remembered by God are sins for which propitiation has not been made.  Sins no longer remembered by God are sins for which full atonement has been freely provided and gratefully received.  (Philip Edgcumbe Hughes, A Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews, 392)


Animal sacrifices, because irrational, could have no permanent effects in achieving the removal of sin.  Although they formed a part of the divine ordinance under the law, their intention was temporary, foreshadowing the perfect self-offering of a moral being.  The long sequence of shedding the blood of bulls and goats was aimed at an impossible goal, if that goal was perfection.  Those Jewish Christians who had come from a background of Temple worship would need to learn on reflection the ultimate futility of the system from which they had turned.  The author’s aim was to set out the immeasurable superiority of Christ, and to show that the OT sacrificial system had validity only because it foreshadowed the supreme and final sacrifice of Christ.  Worshipers in the OT age were provided with a means of grace, but that means was never able to achieve a complete removal of sins, which could be voluntarily accomplished only by a perfect human, in contrast to an animal, sacrifice.  (Donald Guthrie, Tyndale NT Commentaries: Hebrews, 203)


When a cure for polio or some other dread disease is discovered, it doesn’t have to be discovered all over again.  In the same way, when the TRUE cure for sin comes along, you only need it once.  You don’t have to take it over and over again.  The author clearly has this in mind when he says one sacrifice would have been enough.  Indeed the sacrifices would have ceased.  That the Jewish sacrifices had to be repeated is PROOF they had no power to cleanse.  (C. S. Lovett, Lovett’s Lights on Hebrews, 210-1)


Had the ancient sacrifices been an insuperable incongruity involved in the offering of them, since, as has been remarked earlier in this commentary, a brute beast is by its very nature unqualified to serve as a substitute for man, the crown of God’s creation.  Lacking both volition and rationality, it is passive and inarticulate and therefore incapable of the spontaneous declaration, “Lo, I have come to do thy will, O God” (v. 7).  Only man, who is a rational, volitional, articulate, and responsible being, can serve as a proper equivalent and substitute for man:  hence the incarnation, whereby the Son of God assumed our humanity, so that as man he might offer himself in the place of our fallen humanity (2:9, 14).  Further, only perfect man, himself entirely free from sin, could properly stand in man’s place and absorb the punishment due to man’s sin (2:14-18; 4:15f.; 5:8-10; 7:26f.; 9:26).  (Philip Edgcumbe Hughes, A Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews, 392-3)


Is there any sin in your life that is causing you to doubt your salvation?  Quite often this is also answered in the affirmative.  If so, we discuss the dynamics of spiritual development and ways to deal with temptation (such as prayer, Bible study and memorization, staying out of situations conducive for falling into the sin, and meaningful involvement in the church and in the lives of fellow believers).  I end by challenging my brother or sister in Christ to persevere in trusting the sufficiency of Christ’s work and to endure in the fight against sin.  (George H. Guthrie, The NIV Application Commentary: Hebrews, 339)


The hearers are in danger of turning their backs on their Christian commitment; but the author reminds them, in no uncertain terms, that in so doing they walk away from God’s provision by which people may have a cleansed conscience and a healthy, permanent relationship with him.  In the new covenant alone can one find a means for decisive forgiveness from sin and, thus, right relationship with God.  (George H. Guthrie, The NIV Application Commentary: Hebrews, 330-1)


IV-  The Law can only point to our need to love and obedience; Christ is love and obedience(Heb 10:5-10; see also: Ex 21:6; Dt 15:17; 1 Sm 15:22; Ps 40:6-8; 50:8-10; 51:16-17; Isa 1:10-20; 66:3-4; Jer 7:21-23; Hosea 6:6; Micah 6:6-8; Amos 5:21-24; Mk 14:36; Lk 22:42; Jn 4:34; 6:38; 17:4; 14:31; Phil 2:5-11; Heb 5:8-9)


Our Lord did not obey the Father grudgingly or under duress but with joy!  Later, in 12:2, the writer tells us that Jesus endured the cross “for the joy set before him.”  The angels sang at the Incarnation (Lk 2:13ff.) because they were reflecting and expressing Christ’s joy.  He had come to die, and that could logically have produced an angelic dirge.  But the angels gave out an anthem instead, because of the anthem of Christ’s heart–“Then I said, ‘Here I am. . . I have come to do your will, O God.’”  There is “in Deity Itself the joy of obedience:  obedience which is a particular means of joy and the only means of that particular joy.”  Jesus willed to be subordinate to God!  (R. Kent Hughes, Preaching the Word: Hebrews, 23)


The psalmist’s words, “I have come to do your will, O God,” sum up the whole tenor of our Lord’s life and ministry, and express the essence of that true sacrifice which God desires.  But what of the parenthetic clause:  “as it is written of me in the scroll of the book”?  Its meaning is clarified by the clause which immediately follows the clauses which are quoted here:  “Your law is within my heart.”  (F. F. Bruce, The New International Commentary on the NT: Hebrews, 242)


Always there had been voices crying out for God that the only sacrifice was that of obedience.  Nothing but obedience could open the way to God; disobedience set up a barrier that no animal sacrifice could ever take away.  Jesus was the perfect sacrifice because he perfectly did God’s will.  He took himself and said to God:  “Do with me as you will.”  He brought to God for men what no man had been able to bring–the perfect obedience, that was the perfect sacrifice.  (William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible Series, Hebrews, 115)


The fact was, though God had instituted blood animal sacrifices (Ex 24), he had never been pleased with them and did not see them as ends.  He had established them as object lessons to instruct his people about the sinfulness of their hearts, his hatred of sin, the fact that sin leads to death, the need of an atonement, and his delight in those whose hearts were clean and obedient and faithful.  But there was nothing appealing to him in the sight of a dying animal.  God had no pleasure in the moans and death-throes of lambs or bulls.  What he did find pleasure in was those who offered a sacrifice with a contrite, obedient heart.  (R. Kent Hughes, Preaching the Word: Hebrews, 23)


The words I have come express an accomplished fact, not a prediction, translating the psalmist’s words into the very life and ministry of Jesus.  His consciousness of his mission is clearly brought out in the Gospels, especially in John’s Gospel.  He was sent from God and had come to fulfill a divine mission.  To do thy will, O God is the aim of the perfect man.  It has only partially been fulfilled by even the most pious of men, except by Jesus.  What was seen as the most desirable aim by the psalmist, becomes an expression of fact on the lips of Jesus.  He actually did the will of God, even to the extent of becoming obedient to the point of death.  (Donald Guthrie, Tyndale NT Commentaries: Hebrews, 205)


God takes sin seriously.  He is not satisfied with a sacrifice that is presented to him without a broken and a contrite heart.  He desires a life of obedience and dedication to doing his will.  (William Hendriksen & Simon J. Kistemaker, NT Commentary: Hebrews, 273)


The spiritual principles which underlay these various types of sacrifice are fulfilled and transcended in the perfect self-offering of Christ.  Our author’s contrast is not between sacrifice and obedience, but between the involuntary sacrifice of dumb animals and “sacrifice into which obedience enters, the sacrifice of a rational and spiritual being, which is not passive in death, but in dying makes the will of God its own.”  (F. F. Bruce, The New International Commentary on the NT: Hebrews, 241)


When it came to animal sacrifices, the beasts were offered against their will.  At best, the animal would stand in ignorance and submit to the knife.  In fact, under this system, even the worshipers bringing the animals, or the priests presenting the sacrifices, could do so without understanding, emotion, or will.  Monotonous routines can reduce a meaningful rite to mindless ritual.  Here the contrast with Christ stands out.  With God’s Son, there was a real will involved–a truly human will that submitted obediently to the will of the Father (Mt 26:42).  (Charles R. Swindoll, Swindoll’s Living Insights: Hebrews, 150)


Some expositors have seen in the “open ear” of Ps 40:6 a reference to the boring of the slave’s ear in Ex 21:6 and Dt 15:17, a symbol of willing obedience on the part of a servant who, because he loves his master, does not want to be released from his service.  (Raymond Brown, The Bible Speaks Today:  Hebrews, 178)


His own will was absorbed in the divine will.  It was His pleasure to say, “Not my will but yours be done” (Lk 22:42).  It was His meat and His drink to do the will of Him that sent Him, and to finish His work.  Although He was Lord and God, He became a lowly servant for our sakes.  Although high as the highest, He stooped low as the lowest.  The King of kings was the servant of servants that He might save His people.  He took upon Himself the form of a servant, and girded Himself, and stood obediently at His Father’s call.  (Charles Spurgeon, Spurgeon Commentary: Hebrews, 272)



The author of Hebrews asserts not that God has an aversion to offerings presented to him, but that sacrifices offered without faith and obedience are an abomination (Isa 1:11-14; Amos 5:21-22).  Through Hosea God says to Israel, “For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings” (6:6).  (William Hendriksen & Simon J. Kistemaker, NT Commentary: Hebrews, 276)


The will of God is central in the life of Christ, and the author of Hebrews exhorts his readers to persevere and do the will of God.  (William Hendriksen & Simon J. Kistemaker, NT Commentary: Hebrews, 276-7)


Suppose you get sick and the doctor gives you a prescription.  You get it filled and start taking the medicine.  If it works, every time you look at the bottle you are happy and are reminded that you are cured, that the sickness is gone.  But if it does not work, every time you look at the bottle it reminds you that the medicine is ineffective and that you are still sick.  It may sometimes give relief from the symptoms, but it does nothing to cure the disease.  A person who must take a medicine to stay alive cannot be said to be cured.  (John MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur NT Commentary: Hebrews, 249)


Worship Point:  Worship God Who has provided the ONLY way to escape this world of shadows and by faith in Christ enjoy reality.  Worship God Who loves us and sacrificed greatly to have a relationship with us.


What concerns the author most is the law’s inability to “make perfect those who draw near to worship” God (v. 1).  The “perfection” he has in mind does not involve a “lack of flaws” but, rather, a state of right relationship with God, in which the worshipers are once and for all cleansed from sin and delivered from a nagging sense of guilt.  The fact that the old covenant system could not deliver in this regard, as demonstrated by offerings made year after year, shows the need for a better system.  (George H. Guthrie, The NIV Application Commentary: Hebrews, 326-7)


The sanctification which his people receive in consequence is their inward cleansing from sin and their being made fit for the presence of God, so that henceforth they can offer him acceptable worship.  It is a sanctification which has taken place once for all; in this sense it is as unrepeatable as the sacrifice which effects it.  (F. F. Bruce, The New International Commentary on the NT: Hebrews, 243)


Gospel Application: Jesus has done for us what we could never do for ourselves: obtain perfection (telos), holiness, sinlessness, and perfect love and obedience.  By faith in Him He credits to us all He has obtained. Jesus alone can bring us to God.


Christ’s sacrifice was effective because it conquered His enemies.  All the sacrifices of the OT did nothing to get rid of Satan.  They had absolutely no effect on him at all, nor on the godless demons and people who served him.  But when Jesus died on the cross, He dealt a death-blow to all His enemies.  First of all, He conquered “him who had the power of death, that is, the devil” (Heb 2:14).  Second, He also triumphed over all the other fallen angels (Col 2:14-15).  Third, He disarmed and triumphed over all rulers and authorities of all ages who have rejected and opposed God (Col 2:15).  He is now only waiting until all His enemies be made a footstool, that is, until they acknowledge His lordship by bowing at His feet (Phil 2:10).  (John MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur NT Commentary: Hebrews, 255)


In the temple you saw real sacrifice being offered–real animals really had their throats cut and their actual flesh and blood were used in the ritual; in Christian assemblies a ceremony with wine and bits of bread was conducted.  It must have been all but impossible to resist the conviction that the Jewish service was the reality and the Christian one a mere substitute–wine is so obviously a substitute for blood and bread for flesh!  Yet the Christians had the audacity to maintain that it was the other way round–that their innocuous little ritual meal in private houses was the real sacrifice and that all the slaughtering, incense, music, and shouting in the temple was merely the shadow.  (C.S. Lewis, The Seeing Eye, 49-50)


A seated priest is the guarantee of a finished work and an accepted sacrifice.  (F. F. Bruce, The New International Commentary on the NT: Hebrews, 245)


Once for all “If is finished” (Jn 19:30).  Does the divine law require for our acceptance perfect submission to the will of the Lord?  He has rendered it.  Does it ask complete obedience to its precepts?  He has presented the same.  Does the fulfilled will of the Lord call for abject suffering, a sweat of blood, pangs unknown, and death itself?  Christ has presented it all, whatever that “all” may be.  Just as, when God created, His word effected all His will, so when God redeemed His blessed and incarnate Word has done all His will.  In every point, as God looked on each day’s work and said “It is good,” so, as He looks upon each part of the work of His dear Son, He can say of it, “It is good.”  The Father joins in the verdict of His Son that it is finished; all the will of God for the sanctification of His people is accomplished.  (Charles Spurgeon, Spurgeon Commentary: Hebrews, 276)


Spiritual Challenge:  Seek the Way.  Seek Truth.  Seek Life.  Seek reality.  Seek Jesus.


What is the application for us?  Jesus’ joyous resolve to obediently do God’s will is the essence of the true sacrifice and worship that God desires.  Jesus does what God desired from every worshiper in the Old Covenant.  God did not want animal sacrifices.  What he wanted and still wants is obedience!  That is the only sacrifice that is acceptable to God.  (R. Kent Hughes, Preaching the Word: Hebrews, 23)


In Paradise, Satan’s temptation appealed to the body.  In the wilderness Satan appealed to the appetite of hunger, after Christ had been fasting.  Christ conquered, maintaining the victory to its final completion, when He offered His body a sacrifice on the Cross.  He was filled with one thought–God prepared Me this body; I have it for His disposal, for His service and glory; I hold it ready every moment to be a sacrifice to Him.  The body comes from God; it belongs to Him; it has no object of existence but to please Him.  The one value My body has is, that I can give it a sacrifice to God.  (Andrew Murray, The Holiest of All, 332)


So What?: We may think we know the way to life; but that way is death (Prv 14:12; 16:25).  Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life (Jn 14:6).  We can only enjoy  the beatific vision or a perfect (telos) relationship with God by being “In Christ.”  That is what God has wanted with us since creation.


The Christian Way — The Christian says, “Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for those desires exists.   A baby feels hunger:  well, there is such a thing as food.   A duckling wants to swim:  well, there is such a thing as water.   Men feel sexual desire:  well, there is such a thing as sex.  If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.  If none of my earthly pleasures satisfy it, that does not prove that the universe is a fraud.  Probably earthly pleasures were never meant to satisfy it, but only to arouse it, to suggest the real thing.  If that is so, I must take care, on the one hand, never to despise, or be unthankful for, these earthly blessings, and on the other, never to mistake them for the something else of which they are only a kind of copy, or echo, or mirage.  I must keep alive in myself the desire for my true country, which I shall not find till after death; I must never let it get snowed under or turned aside; I must make it the main object of life to press on to that other country and to help others do the same.  (C. S. Lewis; Mere Christianity, 120)


If there lurks in most modern minds the notion that to desire our own good and earnestly to hope for the enjoyment of it is a bad thing, I submit that this notion has crept in from Kant and the Stoics and is no part of the Christian faith. Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires, not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.  (C. S. Lewis; Weight of Glory)


The cross was NOT the sacrifice of Jesus.  He sacrificed His entire life for us.  How?  By denying Himself and doing only what God wanted Him to do.  His great passion to please His Father took Him to the cross.  The cross was the end of the line, the final step.  From the wilderness temptation to the garden of Gethsemane, the devil tried in every way to get Jesus to do His own will; to live for Himself.  He wanted Jesus to “do His own thing,” just as he did.  But Jesus refused.  Not once, in all His life, did He do anything but what the Father wanted.  His own will was denied continuously.  In the garden He said, ‘NOT MY WILL, but Thine be done.”  He denied Himself totally.  He chose to DIE rather than do His own will.  And His own will was clearly in evidence. . . “Father, let this cup pass from Me.”  That was Jesus’ will–as a MAN.  But He denied Himself to do God’s will.  His life of perfect obedience gave God what He had always wanted.  What Adam refused to give Him in the garden of Eden, Jesus gave Him in the garden of Gethsemane.  When we receive Him, His life becomes our life, His sacrifice our sacrifice; and His righteousness our righteousness.  This is what makes it possible for God to be pleased with us–IN HIM.  (C. S. Lovett, Lovett’s Lights on Hebrews, 213)


The writer does not say that Christ’s sacrifice perfects the people but that Christ does this.  His salvation is essentially personal.  We have seen a number of times that the author is fond of the idea of “perfecting.”  He applies it to Christ and also to his people.  The process of salvation takes people who are far from perfect and makes them fit to be in God’s presence forever.  It is not temporary improvement he is speaking of but improvement that is never ending.  (Frank E. Gæbelein, Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Vol. 12, 101)


The requirement of the law was love to God and love to men.  This has always been God’s great requirement.  He seeks spiritual worship, obedient thought, holy living, grateful praise, devout prayer–these are the requirements of the Creator and Benefactor of men.  (Charles Spurgeon, Spurgeon Commentary: Hebrews, 270)


No offering is acceptable to God if it is not an expression of loving devotion.  He cannot be bought by gifts.  He looks for covenant love, righteous behavior and a contrite heart.  (Raymond Brown, The Bible Speaks Today:  Hebrews, 178)


Because God is the all-perfect fountain of life and goodness and blessing, there can be no life or goodness or blessing but in His will.  The whole evil and ruin of sin is that man turned from God’s will to do his own.  The redemption of Christ had no reason, no object, and no possibility of success, except in restoring man to do God’s will.  It was for this Jesus died.  He gave up His own will; He gave His life, rather than do His own will.  (Andrew Murray, The Holiest of All, 336)


Christ is the fulfillment of the good things to come:  forgiveness, peace, a clear conscience, security, and, above all, access to God.  These blessings were only pictured in the Old Covenant, they were never realized.  (John MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur NT Commentary: Hebrews, 247)


To make perfect is to bring to completion, to bring to the intended end.  The end to which the Old Covenant pointed was access to God, full salvation, but it was never intended to bring men to God.  It did not make perfect because God never intended for it to make perfect.  Its purpose was to picture, not to perfect.  (John MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur NT Commentary: Hebrews, 248)


Three outstanding effects are thus ascribed to the sacrifice of Christ:  by it his people have had their conscience cleansed from guilt; by it they have been fitted to approach God as accepted worshipers; and by it they have experienced the fulfillment of what was promised in earlier days, being brought into the perfect relation to God which is involved in the new covenant.  (F. F. Bruce, The New International Commentary on the NT: Hebrews, 247)


The great cry in the hearts of OT saints was to be in the presence of God (cf. Ex 33:15; Ps 16:11).  But they really had no way of getting there.  Even the high priest on the Day of Atonement could not take the people inside the veil, where, symbolically, God dwelt.  All the old ceremonies and sacrifices, though offered continually, year after year, could never make perfect those who draw near.  They could never save, never bring access to God.  (John MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur NT Commentary: Hebrews, 247)


A body didst thou prepare for Me:  though the body lies, for Christ and all who are sanctified in Him, the path to perfection.

And yet how many believers there are to whom the body is the greatest hindrance in their Christian life.  Simply because they have not learnt from Christ what the highest use of the body is–to offer it up to God.  Instead of presenting their members unto God, of mortifying the deeds of the body through the Spirit, of keeping under the body, they allow it to have its way, and are brought into bondage.  Oh for an insight into the real nature of our actual redemption, through a body received from God, prepared by Him, and offered up to Him.  (Andrew Murray, The Holiest of All, 334)


He is saying that God does not now require the repetitive and impersonal sacrifices of the old covenant.  God took far greater pleasure in the surrendered life of one eager to do his will.  Once again the writer is using OT Scripture, honored by Jews and Christians alike, as a proof that something far better has taken place by Christ’s sacrifice than could have been accomplished by sacrifices and offerings and burnt offerings and sin offerings.  (Raymond Brown, The Bible Speaks Today:  Hebrews, 177)







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