Sermon for Sunday, February 12th, 2023 at First Presbyterian Church at Unionville, NY (BPC)
Old Testament reading:
[Exo 29:38-46 ESV] 38 “Now this is what you shall offer on the altar: two lambs a year old day by day regularly. 39 One lamb you shall offer in the morning, and the other lamb you shall offer at twilight. 40 And with the first lamb a tenth measure of fine flour mingled with a fourth of a hin of beaten oil, and a fourth of a hin of wine for a drink offering. 41 The other lamb you shall offer at twilight, and shall offer with it a grain offering and its drink offering, as in the morning, for a pleasing aroma, a food offering to the LORD. 42 It shall be a regular burnt offering throughout your generations at the entrance of the tent of meeting before the LORD, where I will meet with you, to speak to you there. 43 There I will meet with the people of Israel, and it shall be sanctified by my glory. 44 I will consecrate the tent of meeting and the altar. Aaron also and his sons I will consecrate to serve me as priests. 45 I will dwell among the people of Israel and will be their God. 46 And they shall know that I am the LORD their God, who brought them out of the land of Egypt that I might dwell among them. I am the LORD their God.
New Testament reading:
[Heb 10:1-10 ESV] 1 For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year, make perfect those who draw near. 2 Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, since the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have any consciousness of sins? 3 But in these sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. 4 For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. 5 Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said, “Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body have you prepared for me; 6 in burnt offerings and sin offerings you have taken no pleasure. 7 Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come to do your will, O God, as it is written of me in the scroll of the book.'” 8 When he said above, “You have neither desired nor taken pleasure in sacrifices and offerings and burnt offerings and sin offerings” (these are offered according to the law), 9 then he added, “Behold, I have come to do your will.” He does away with the first in order to establish the second. 10 And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
[Luk 22:7-13 ESV] 7 Then came the day of Unleavened Bread, on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed. 8 So Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, “Go and prepare the Passover for us, that we may eat it.” 9 They said to him, “Where will you have us prepare it?” 10 He said to them, “Behold, when you have entered the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him into the house that he enters 11 and tell the master of the house, ‘The Teacher says to you, Where is the guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ 12 And he will show you a large upper room furnished; prepare it there.” 13 And they went and found it just as he had told them, and they prepared the Passover.
[Heb 10:11-14 ESV] 11 And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, 13 waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. 14 For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.
Last Sunday I gave a prayer and a reading at the American Legion’s “Four Chaplains” service. In this yearly service they remember four chaplains who gave their lives in World War Two. The story is that the transport ship, the Dorchester, on which the four chaplains and hundreds of soldiers were traveling was struck by a torpedo from a German U-boat off the coast of Greenland. And the chaplains were resolute, helping calm the soldiers with hymns and prayers and even forcing their lifejackets upon others, sacrificing their own lives to save other men. 600 men, the four chaplains among them, found their icy graves that day in the North Atlantic. But their sacrifice is remembered.
As I prayed at the American Legion I noted John 15:13 – “Greater love has no man than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.”
Well, the chaplains each may be credited with the saving of one life, each having given up their life jackets. And perhaps even dozens of lives may be credited to their calming influence.
But the Lord Jesus Christ, in his single sacrifice upon the cross saved a far greater number, bearing the sins of many by the shedding of his blood.
His sacrifice was of greater power, of greater love, and provided a greater example.
So then, as we look at Christ’s Single Sacrifice this communion Sunday, we’ll be be looking at three points.
I. The Power of Christ’s Single Sacrifice
II. The Love of Christ’s Single Sacrifice
III. The Example of Christ’s Single Sacrifice
I. The Power of Christ’s Single Sacrifice
A. It is Sufficient
Upon the cross, as he was dying, Jesus said “It is finished.” This may have primary reference to the full work to which he was called. It all was finished. He was incarnate by the virgin Mary, lived a sinless life, accomplished ALL that he was sent to do, and then died on the cross. Upon his death “it was finished.”
But his word must also have reference to our salvation. “It is finished.” Jesus paid it all.
Sin had left a crimson stain, he washed it white as snow.
How easy we forget that message of the Gospel. Jesus paid it ALL. Our salvation was finished at the cross. We can add nothing to it. Christ’s sacrifice was sufficient for the sins of His people.
This means, among other things, that there is no need for any other sacrifice. There is no need for animal sacrifices, for as the author of the book of Hebrews tells us “it is impossible by the blood of bulls and goats to take away sin.” We learn also in Hebrews that Christ did away with the sacrificial system because his sacrifice of himself truly took away sin, bringing forgiveness and crediting us with his righteousness.
Our text this morning tells us of the futility of the priestly sacrifices. It says, “And every priest stands DAILY at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins.” Now, the fact that this verse speaks of priests and their sacrifices in the present tense seems to imply the temple was still standing when this was written. And so, on that argument, the book of Hebrews was written before 70 AD, the year Jerusalem fell. Once the city fell to the Romans, and the temple with it, the sacrifices ended. But Christians had, for a generation, stopped sacrificing animals; ever since Christ’s death and resurrection. The Christians knew that the power of Christ’s sacrifice was enough to end sacrifices for ever. And so we do not look forward, as some to, to sacrifices ever returning to some rebuilt temple. The sacrifice of Jesus Christ paid it all.
Imagine going up to the register to pay your bill after a meal at an expensive restaurant. You try to hand them your credit card and they say “Someone has already paid it all for you.” Who would then ask the restaurant to charge more? Who would desires to hand over money when the bill is already paid? And likewise, who would desire the worthless sacrifice of animals when we have the worthy sacrifice of Christ? His sacrifice was sufficient for the ending of animals sacrifices forever.
Then also, because Christ’s single sacrifice was sufficient, there is no need for him to be re-sacrificed. Christ died once and for all. He then ascended and IS seated at the right of God the Father. He WILL come again with glory to judge the living and the dead. He IS in heave, He WILL return. So we understand that in the communion meal itself, Christ does not return to be re-sacrificed. He is in heaven, and His return will be come only in the last days.
Not only is it unnecessary to re-sacrifice Christ, but such an idea would be an affront to the power of Christ’s single sacrifice. To re-sacrifice him would be to overlook that he himself said “it is finished.” His single sacrifice was truly with great power.
This power of Christ single sacrifice is also seen in that he died for “many.”
Hebrews 9:28 says: “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.”
Christ bore the sins of many.
As Calvinists (as Christians) we must naturally note that “many” is not “all.” While sometimes the Scriptures, in reference to salvation in Christ, do say “all” the context tells us that the author’s mean “all” to be referring to both Jews and Gentiles. Christ died for ALL KINDS of peoples. Jesus died not die to universally save ALL people, but he does save ALL HIS PEOPLE. And that shows his great power.
Unlike the chaplains who gave up their life jackets that 1 person may live, Christ gave up his life so that many millions of people will have eternal life.
That shows you how much more powerful Christ is than any man. His power is not twice as much as an ordinary man, nor 100 times, nor even a millions times greater. It is infinitely greater, and Christ’s death was sufficient for the salvation of AS MANY AS the Lord has predestined and determined to call to Him.
None can stand in the way of the power of God.
II. The Love of Christ’s Single Sacrifice
Now, Christ’s single sacrifice was not only powerful, it was loving.
God, so loved the world that He gave his only son.
God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us.
And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
So it is clear that God the Father loves us, and God the Son loves us.
Well then how about the Holy Spirit? Does He love as well?
To answer this we should note that among the fruit of the Spirit is love. And Romans 5:5 supports this in saying that “God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit.” Clearly the Holy Spirit loves us along with God the Father and God the Son, united as three in one.
What is most remarkable about the Love of Christ’s Single Sacrifice is that is personalized. It is a love not only for “many” but a love for YOU.
That is especially hard for some of us. How can I be loved? How can God love ME? Well, I assure you that he does. Christ died FOR YOU. He gave you not merely a life jacket that you may swim for survival but he provided the very Ark of salvation which keeps you out of the drowning waters.
The Love of God is seen in many ways. It is seen in his creation and all its beauty. It is seen in what He provides for us; food, clothing, shelter, family and friends. But the Love of God is seen most prominently in that Single Sacrifice of Jesus Christ. This single sacrifice on the cross is in fact the most remarkable thing to happen in world history, and it should ever be on our minds that we may remember God’s love for us, giving his son for us that we may have eternal life.
So we see the Power of Christ’s Single Sacrifice, and the Love of Christ’s Single Sacrifice. Then finally, we have the Example of Christ’s Single Sacrifice.
III. The Example of Christ’s Single Sacrifice
The Lord gives us the example that we are to emulate. It is not that we will likely be put to death to save another — although that is possible — but rather we are to sacrifice for one another with our time and with our money and with a servant nature that cares for all men who are created in the image of God.
Jesus Christ, though he was God, did not count equality with God something to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.
So we are to be servants, following his example.
And it is important that we consider practical tangible ways to do this. And not only to consider them, but to strive to do them.
So I ask, how have you sacrificed for others? How have you served others? How have you followed in Christ’s example.
Being motivated by Christ’s single sacrifice, we should want to show the same love to others.
One specific way that you can serve others is to take upon yourself the responsibility of cleaning up a common area at your workplace. Think of that coffee drip tray; go ahead and drain that for your coworkers. Even if you don’t drink coffee. Look not for “what is fair” but look to serve others.
What a plague it is to have that mindset saying “I’ll do what is fair.” If Christ had done what is fair, we would all be condemned to eternal damnation. But praise the Lord that Christ came to serve and provided us with such an example.
So another specific example. Against, a communal area I hope some of us may clean this year is the Unionville park. Show our servant nature and benefit the community in that way.
Servanthood naturally extends beyond cleaning things. A good servant listens to others. That is great service you can do. A good servant thinks about the needs of others, prays for them, is there for them, and is willing to help when called upon.
One more specific example that comes to my mind. Back in North Carolina there was a family known to the church, living in the area, and both the man and the woman had cancer. And I’m not exactly sure how this was all worked out, but some of the church folks (and people from other churches) found a date in which that couple was both gone at cancer treatments, and we did EVERYTHING for their yard which they had fallen behind on. Mowed it, weed whacked, I was there staining their deck. I can’t remember all else that was done, but there were 25 of us working for a full day at their place. In true mountain style, there were 3 or 4 dogs chained up and barking at us the whole time, but at least they were chained up. Anyways, I can only imagine their reactions when they came home and everything was spic and span.
It is often difficult for me to think of specific examples. So I want to give that “homework” to you. And let me know later today or some other day … how can you serve others? What specific opportunities do you see around you?
Jesus tells us that this sacrifice of self in loving others is far greater than the old animal sacrifices, which put something else in your place.
[Mar 12:33 ESV] 33 And to love him [God] with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.”
From the Love of God in his powerful Single Sacrifice we learn to love the Lord and to love our neighbors. From servant to servant. From sacrifice to sacrifice. From love to love. Christ is our example.
Let’s look at one more feature of text as we conclude.
Twice in our text is the word “single.”
In verse 2: But when Christ had offered for all time a SINGLE sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God
In verse 4: For by a SINGLE offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.
We understand then that mot only has Christ, in his single sacrifice, forgiven out sins, he has “perfected us for all time.”
While sin remains in our members we yet are being sanctified (being made holy), are seen as holy in God’s sight, and are promised to be glorified (to be made without sin) in heaven. Then, sinless, we will be in the presence of the Lord. Perfected for all time. That is the promise of the Lord.
Let us then rest on that promise, trusting in Chris’s single sacrifice, for His blood can make even the foulest clean. Praise be to God.