30 October 2015

Hebrews 10:11-18

“By a single offering [Christ] has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.” (v. 14)

Psalm: Psalm 119:17-32


This passage repeats what has been written already in this Letter. Is the author simply being boring? Or are they trying to get their mind around something dramatically new and barely comprehensible: all they can think to do is to re-state the one way they have found of announcing the good news?

It's not that God has changed. Rather, on reflection, the author sees that God has persistently been nudging humanity to a particular understanding - through God's engagement with Israel. This produced amazing insights (which only now come into focus: they are enshrined in Psalm 110 and Jeremiah 31:31-34, for example). But they were blurred by misunderstanding and behaviour that undermined all God's efforts to relate to people. Now, at last, in Jesus, God has delivered a game-changing breakthrough. The truth is out. Nothing will ever be the same again.

Completely new ways of understanding God's will and ways, of worshipping God and living for God have to be worked through. But here and now the author of Hebrews is in the early flush of celebrating the 'paradigm shift' that has taken place.

Jesus, inspired by the Spirit, learned obedience of God and lived - and died - in God's way. This brought into the open what God has always wanted and worked for. God does not hold our dreadful behaviour against us or require penance (through animal sacrifices or any other procedure). God freely forgives and gladly welcomes people who trust in God into a fellowship and communion in which growth and change towards holiness can take place.

Jesus, for his part, is not only rightly honoured as the pioneer of our salvation. He has been affirmed by God. There is complete synergy between God's heart and will and what Jesus was all about (in particular in his self-offering).

The regular (daily) sacrificial system proposed for Israel in parts of the Old Testament is definitively finished. Faith is now not about 'religion' (in the cultic sense). It is about trusting God to help and guide a morally serious exploration of human responsibility in everyday living. It is a way of life that is peppered with acts of thanksgiving and songs of praise.

To Ponder

  • God persistently nudges humanity to understand God's will and ways. How do Christians perceive insights in other faith communities or in the everyday life of secular people which deepen our understanding or enrich our living?
  • If God's will and ways have been definitively revealed in Jesus, how (in your experience) do we help one another in the Church to make his character and spirit attractive to people who have never taken him seriously?

Bible notes author

The Revd David Deeks

The Revd David Deeks is a retired Methodist minister. He has always focused on theology and spirituality as practical themes.