Offer Them Christ
The Weblog Of John Franklin Howard

“Thank You, Jesus…Your Sacrifice Saves Me!”

Hebrews 9:24-28:

24 For Christ did not enter a sanctuary made by human hands, a mere copy of the true one, but he entered into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. 25 Nor was it to offer himself again and again, as the high priest enters the Holy Place year after year with blood that is not his own; 26 for then he would have had to suffer again and again since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the age to remove sin by the sacrifice of himself. 27 And just as it is appointed for mortals to die once, and after that the judgment, 28 so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin, but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.

            In the second installment of this series: “Thank You, Jesus!” I want us to focus on one idea… “Thank You Jesus, Your Sacrifice Saves Me!”

            Do you know what that means?

            Do you know that the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross has life-altering significance for us?

            If I were to ask you today, “Are you thankful to Jesus Christ for the sacrifice He gave for you?” how would you respond?

            Do you know the cost that Jesus paid to save us from ourselves, and our sins?

            Let me tell you a story…

            Paul had a filthy mouth and it started to become a real problem in his life. In an effort to break his habit of using profanity, Paul started meeting with another guy from his church, and they came up with a plan to help Paul work on changing his vocabulary. Each Sunday, Paul would report to his friend William how many times he cussed during the week, and he’d put $5 in the offering plate for each occurrence.

            The first week cost Paul $100. Although following weeks improved somewhat, he wasn’t having the success he wanted and was going through a lot of hard-earned cash.

            After the fourth week, William told Paul he had decided on his own to change the deal for the coming week, but he wouldn’t tell Paul how. Paul wanted to know, but all William would say was, “Trust me. It will cost you both less, and more.”

            The following Sunday before worship, Paul came into church looking a little down. He had obviously failed again. William put a hand on his shoulder and said, “Paul, this will cost you both less and more. It’s called grace.”  He then took out a check made out to the church, dated and signed by William. Only the amount was blank. “Your sin still costs, but for you it’s free. Just fill in the numbers. And next week there will be more grace.”

            That first week of grace cost William $55, but the second only cost him $20. There was no third week. It cost Paul too much to fill in those checks, so he quit using those costly words and changed his vocabulary.

            What Jesus does for us is simple. We sin, and He pays the price. Our sins are covered from His account.

            That’s the message of grace.

            Grace is amazing, but it is also very costly.

            And Jesus is the One who pays the cost.

            The Bible tells us that Jesus makes three appearances, and each time pays the cost for us.

            When we look at these three appearances in the Bible, I want us to think about what reasons they give us to say, “Thank You, Jesus!”

1) The Present Appearance: Jesus is for me.

Hebrews 9:24b

“…[Jesus] entered into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf.”

            The first thing we have to be thankful to Jesus for is His present appearance.

            The Bible says, “[Jesus] entered into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf” (924c).

            In His present appearance, Jesus is for us.

            In a world where it seems like we all have so much going against us—time, age, health, the economy, conflict, sins and struggles, isn’t it good to know that Jesus is for us? He is on our side!

            Right now, the Bible says, Jesus is in heaven, standing in the presence of God, on our behalf!

            The Apostle Paul asked a great question: “If God is for us, who is against us?” (Romans 8:31b).

            The expected answer is, “no one or no thing can stand against us, if God is for us!”

            So we see Jesus, right “now” (Hebrews 9:24) the Bible says, “standing in the presence of God on our behalf.” Jesus is seeking God’s best for our lives. He is serving as a High Priest, standing before God on behalf of sinful, flawed human beings.

            The Old Testament priests had an important job. They stood before God and interceded on behalf of the people. Their job was to stand in the presence of God and pray for God’s forgiveness and blessing to be upon the people who had so often sinned, rebelled, disobeyed, and revolted against God.

            Imagine the stress that came with that job! Standing before a holy and just God and all you have to work with is sinful people!

            The Bible says Jesus is standing before God on our behalf. He represents us with Himself and not our sins and disobedience. Instead of saying, “Look at them, and all their faults,” Jesus says, “Look at Me.”

2) The Past Appearance: Jesus has removed my sin.

Hebrews 9:26b

“…[Jesus] has appeared once for all at the end of the age to remove sin by the sacrifice of himself.”

            We can also thank Jesus for His past appearance. With that appearance, Jesus has removed our sin.

            The Bible tells us that Jesus appeared “once for all…to remove sin by the sacrifice of Himself” (Hebrews 9:26b).

            The power of sin, and the penalty of sin over us have been broken by the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross.

            What does it matter that Jesus sacrificed Himself on the cross?

Have you ever asked yourself, “What difference does sin make in my life?”

            The simple answer is that life has a way of making it seem like we get away with sin with little or no consequences, but that is a short sighted view. The truth is, we will be held accountable for all our sins.

            Let me give an example:

            Not long ago, our family went to Blockbuster Video and rented the movie “Rudy.”

            You know the story behind “Rudy” don’t you? It is a movie about a young man who had a dream to play football for the University Of Notre Dame, and all the obstacles he had to overcome to realize his dream. “Rudy” is one of my favorite movies of all time.

            I enjoyed watching “Rudy” that night with my family, but the next week when we got ready to return the movie we could not locate the DVD we rented from Blockbuster.

            We looked everywhere, but no “Rudy.” As we started to reconstruct our movements we came up with a theory…we had placed the movie DVD on the coffee table where it probably got mixed up in the newspaper, then taken out and thrown in the recycling. Unfortunately, by the time we discovered this, the recycling was long gone, and so was “Rudy.”

            At first, we thought Blockbuster would send us a late return notice in the mail…but they didn’t.

            We then decided that the next time we went to Blockbuster they would tell us we owed them for “Rudy” and we had to pay for it before we could rent any more movies…but they didn’t.

            Then we began to wonder if perhaps Blockbuster had overlooked the fact that we hadn’t returned “Rudy”…but they didn’t.

            One day I was going through our bank statement and I noticed an unfamiliar debit withdrawal from our checking account. It read, “Blockbuster Video.” They had withdrawn the full amount of the movie from our checking account. They didn’t call us, mail us, or remind us we hadn’t returned “Rudy”—they just held us accountable for it!

            When we sin, it appears many times like no one notices, and that we have gotten away with it with no consequences—but if you think Blockbuster Video holds us accountable for how we behave, imagine how much more God does!

            The Bible says that Jesus has appeared to remove our sin by the sacrifice of Himself (Hebrews 9:26b).

            It is as if Jesus would show up at Blockbuster Video and say, “I would like to pay their charges Myself. Even though I don’t owe the debt, I would like to pay the price and remove the charges against them. The next time they come in, their charges will be cleared.”

            The Bible says, “[God] does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. For as far as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far he removes our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:10-12).

            Here is what God told the prophet Isaiah:

            “I, I am He who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember you sins” (Isaiah 43:25).

            “I have swept away your transgressions like a cloud, and your sins like a mist” (Isaiah 44:22).

            The prophet Micah said, “You [God] will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea” (Micah 7:19b).

            The message of the Gospel is that Jesus has done something for us that we cannot do for ourselves—He has removed our sin by the sacrifice of Himself. Nothing we can do, will ever remove our sins ourselves.

            “[Jesus] Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that [we could be] free from [our] sins…” (1 Peter 2:24a).

            Today I am reminded of Sgt. Rafael Peralta. Sgt. Peralta served in the U.S. Marines. He was always known as a soldier who put the interests of other Marines ahead of his own.

            He demonstrated that commitment in Fallujah, Iraq on November 15, 2004, almost 5 years ago today.

            On that day, Sgt. Peralta had volunteered to serve on an assault team. His mission was to be one of the first of the team to enter houses occupied by insurgents. Upon entering one house, Sgt. Peralta was shot and wounded. He fell to the house floor. A few moments later a fragmentation grenade rolled into the room. Two other Marines quickly tried to escape from the house, but the door was locked. They were trapped. Sgt. Peralta, wounded, but still conscious, grabbed the grenade and cradled it into his body before it exploded, ensuring there would be no further loss of life.

            In giving his own life, Sgt. Peralta saved the lives of the others.

            That’s what Jesus did for the world when the Bible says He removed sin from us (Hebrews 9:26). He covered it in His own body on the cross. He took the wound. He paid the penalty with His life. He removed the sin. He let us go free.

            That’s a reason for us to say, “Thank You, Jesus!”

3) The Promised Appearance: Jesus will come again to save me.

Hebrews 9:28

“…[Jesus] will appear a second time, not to deal with sin, but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.”

            One of the great hopes of the Christian faith is that, just as Jesus came once, born in a manger, died on a cross, rose from the grave, ascended into heaven; He will one day come again, and on that day, He will bring our full salvation!

            In the Old Testament, the High Priest would go into the Most Holy Place in the Temple, where He would offer a sacrifice on behalf of the sins of the people.

            It was there, in the Presence of God, that the High Priest dealt with human sin.

            The people would wait anxiously outside in the Temple to see if the High Priest would return. When the High Priest returned to the people it was the sign that God had accepted their sacrifice and their sins were forgiven.

            When Jesus comes again, it will be the final sign that our sins are forgiven, our salvation has come, and we will be fully restored to right relationship with God.

            The Bible puts it this way:

            16 For the Lord himself, with a cry of command, with the archangel’s call and with the sound of God’s trumpet, will descend from heaven, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up in the clouds together with them to meet the Lord in the air; and so we will be with the Lord forever.

(1 Thessalonians 4:16-17).

            Jesus’ first coming was to remove our sin.

            Jesus’ second coming will be to restore us to salvation.

            We can thank Jesus that His past appearance has removed our sin. We can thank Jesus that in His present appearance He is standing before God on our behalf.

            And we can thank Jesus that His promised appearance will bring Him to us, where we will know full salvation, and go to be with Him!

Invitation

            Can you thank Jesus like that today?

            Do you know Jesus this way?

            Have you trusted Jesus to be the sacrifice that removes your sin?

            Is Jesus standing in the presence of God on your behalf today?

            Are you looking forward to the return of Jesus Christ?

            If Jesus were to come today, would He be coming for you?

            Can you say: “Jesus, I trust you as my Savior. I believe Your sacrifice removes my sin. I trust You are right now standing in the presence of God on my behalf. I am waiting for the day when you come and restore me to full salvation.”

            Can you pray that prayer?

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