daily biblical sermons

Fr. Steven Scherrer, MM, Th.D.
Homily of Monday, Second Week of the Year, January 21, 2019
Hebrews 5:1-10, Psalm 109, Mark 2:18-22

Biblical quotations are taken from the Revised Standard Version unless otherwise noted


"Every high priest chosen from among men is appointed to act on behalf of men in relation to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. He can deal gently with the ignorant and wayward, since he himself is beset with weakness. Because of this he is bound to offer sacrifice for his own sins as well is for those of the people" (Hebrews 5:1-3).

The letter to the Hebrews today speaks of the job of a high priest as being the offering of sacrifices for sins. Since every human high priest is weak and has sins of his own, "he is bound to offer sacrifices for his own sins as well as for those of the people" (Hebrews 5:3).

As Christians we no longer have a high priest who once a year offers a sacrifice for the cleansing of the people. Rather, Jesus Christ is our high priest and he only offered one sacrifice that is effective for all time. If he did not offer sacrifice, he would not be a priest or would not be functioning as a priest at all. Christ's sacrifice is the sacrifice of himself on the cross.

By his sacrifice we are all redeemed. That means that we are bought back from our alienated state as guilty and stained sinners and are declared and made righteous by God with all our sins forgiven.

But Christ's sacrifice that caused our justification came at great cost to God. A severe price had to be paid for our redemption. The price was Christ's blood shed on the cross. In Christ, God himself tasted hell in our place to redeem us from going to hell for our sins. Jesus Christ was the divine Son of God who experienced hell by being abandoned by his Father on the cross, when he cried out,

"My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" (Mark 15:34).

It was necessary that Christ experience this abandonment by his heavenly Father, for this experience is the essence of the pain of hell, which we all deserve for our serious sins. Christ redeemed us from the necessity of going to hell for our serious sins by himself going to hell for them for us, in our place, on the cross, when he was abandoned by his Father. This was the price that he paid for our redemption, the cost of our redemption. This price was paid by Christ, when he offered his high priestly sacrifice for our sins on the cross.

Christ himself was the lamb of sacrifice, the victim that suffered our punishment for our sins for us. The lamb or other animal of the Jewish sacrifice symbolically suffered the sinner's punishment for his sins for him, as his substitute, so that the sinner could escape this dreadful punishment and be forgiven and declared righteous by God, since his death sentence had already been served for him by the animal dying in his place.

God gave the Israelites these sacrifices not because the death of an animal could really justify a sinner - which it couldn't (Hebrews 10:4) - but as a way of training and preparing the Jews for the coming of Christ, whose death could take away sins, since he was the sinless Son of God.

Yet even before the coming of Christ, God covered over, as it were, the sins of the Jews when they offered their sacrifices with faith, not because of the merits of the death of the animal itself, but in an anticipatory way because of the future death of the Son of God on the cross, which the animal foreshadowed.

In describing the Suffering Servant, Isaiah was prophetically describing Christ, the only true Redeemer. Here is how Isaiah describes him:

"He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted" (Isaiah 53:3-4).

Christ has indeed "borne our griefs and carried our sorrows" (Isaiah 53:4). This was his mission. The Father sent him into the world precisely to do this. He is our great high priest who offered the sacrifice of himself that saves us from the chains of our sins that weigh us down and afflict our spirit. He and he alone makes just reparation for them by his suffering and death. God allowed him to be struck instead of us in punishment for our sins. God allowed him to be killed instead of us, in our place, for our sins so that we could be set free from them and be declared righteous by God, through our faith in Christ.

God counts Christ's suffering and death as paying our debt that we have with God of suffering and death in punishment for our sins, when we put our faith in him. This is because

"He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that made us whole, and with his stripes we are healed" (Isaiah 53:5).

Christ was punished for our sins. This punishment is Christ's sacrifice which atones for our sins. This is how Christ takes the place not only of a lamb of sacrifice but also of the Jewish high priest that annually offered them. Christ is both the offering priest and the lamb of sacrifice. He is

"The lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world" (1 John 1:29).

This was necessary, because we all went astray into sin. So to redeem us God put all our sins on Christ and punished them in his flesh on the cross so that he could set free from their sins all that put their faith in him.

"All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all" (Isaiah 53:6).

"He was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people" (Isaiah 53:8).

So this is what Hebrews says about Christ:

"In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who is able to save him from death, and he was heard for his godly fear. Although he was a Son, he learned obedience through what he suffered; and being made perfect he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him" (Hebrews 5:7-9).

Christ cried out to be saved from death, when he prayed in the garden of Gethsemane. And his prayer was heard in that God raised him from death after his death.

Christ had to be perfected as a Savior by the death that he suffered as our substitute for our sins.

"And being made perfect he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him" (Hebrews 5:9).

Christ was made perfect by his death and resurrection, because this was his saving sacrifice that paid the debt of all that believe in him. In his death and resurrection he became in fact "the lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world" (John 1:29).

Christ thus became the lamb of sacrifice that suffered our death penalty for our sins for us. For all who believe in him, God credits to their personal account Christ's suffering and death on the cross as payment of their debt that they have with God of suffering and death in punishment for their sins, and so they are saved from their sins if they put their faith in him; and they are ultimately saved if they also obey him. Hence he becomes the source of their eternal salvation.

"And being made perfect he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him" (Hebrews 5:9).



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