We live in a world of rapid change in terms of technological advancement. Vinyls and eight-tracks seem, to me, like fragments of dreams from a world long past, but I’m old enough to remember and still own a number of audio cassettes. Audio cassettes and portable Walkman devices gave way to CDs and Discmans (Discmen?), of course, and now iPods and MP3 files are in the process of making even CDs obsolete. In fact, it probably already happened without anyone bothering to tell me. Televisions keep getting bigger and bigger. Cell phones keep getting smaller and smaller. If there’s a way to make something better, more efficient, more effective, then we go ahead and make the change without a second thought.
We’re all looking to do things a better way. If it can be improved, improve it.
Apply this idea to medicine. If there was a way to stave off a life threatening illness with an annual shot, that would be good; but if you could eliminate the threat altogether with a one time vaccine, that would be exponentially better!
That’s the approach God took to sin when he sent Jesus.
Back in the day, God’s people had to make constant sacrifices to deal with sin. Every year, the Israelite people made their way to the temple and sacrificed bulls and goats so that their sins might be atoned for. The cycle was perpetual. They never stopped because they kept on sinning, and the blood of bulls and goats couldn’t take their sins away forever.
The writer of Hebrews makes it clear that this could never permanently take away the sins of the people, and that God never really wanted animal sacrifices anyway. Then he explains that Jesus’ sacrifice was a one time deal to take care of sins forever:
“…we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” ~ Hebrews 10:10
Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross wasn’t symbolic. And it wasn’t just another in a continuous line of annual sacrifices for the atonement of sin. It was one sacrifice to atone for every sin ever. Jesus lived a life without sin so that he could be the perfect sacrifice to appease God on our behalf. Old Testament sacrifices weren’t enough: Jesus found a better way. We don’t use eight-tracks anymore, and we don’t inject ourselves with out of date vaccines; like these things, the old ways of sacrifice are obsolete. Why would we turn to anything other than the cross?
Matthew Westacott, OWI Youth Leader