22 March • Wednesday of the Fourth Week in Lent
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.
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.
15. And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us; for after saying,
16. “This is the covenant that I will make with them
after those days, declares the Lord:
I will put my laws on their hearts,
and write them on their minds,”
17. then he adds,
“I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.”
18. Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin.
The world in 2023 is a world that is trying to shed away the remaining trappings of the Covid pandemic, which has taken its toll on the global population over the last three years. As we emerge from the dark tunnel, we find that even as the old problems are fading away, new problems are emerging on the horizons.
The new normal, as it is called, is still exhibiting an old pattern—we live in a fallen world, and all the challenges in life are still there to confront us. There are economic woes, escalating costs, rising unemployment, energy shortage, wars, racism, inadequate food, and geopolitical tensions in many regions. The new normal may bring new dimensions and new challenges to our lives. Yet, ultimately, what is it that was not already there before? They all stem from a common root, which is our human fallenness.
We are thus mindful of the fact that Christ came into our world—this fallen world—to accomplish exactly the one thing that is needed most, which is our redemption, and the reversal of the world’s fallenness. This is precisely what the author of Hebrews is doing in this text. He makes a rigorous argument to underscore the finality, sufficiency, efficacy and intentionality of Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross, which is the redemptive act that would heal the brokenness that we see around us in the world today.
The Author’s interpretation of Psalm 40:6-8 (he is reading the Septuagint, which is the Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament) is exquisite. The words of the Psalmist are read as coming from the mouth of the Saviour as he entered into our world: “Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired…I have come to do your will, O God.” These statements are understood as Christ’s volitional commitment to take the place of the OT sacrifices and offerings. The latter are understood as anticipating the ultimate sacrifice that Christ would make, as a final, sufficient, effective and intentional act of redemption to resolve the root cause of all our human suffering—our fallenness.
The world may remind us of our brokenness, but the season of Lent reminds us that Christ has brought salvation into this world to restore us. The followers of Christ should take courage that, as we continue to put our trust in God and live out the truth of the Gospel in our lives, we will be the salt and light. God can then use us to make a difference in the world, no matter how frightening the problems may seem!
Dear Lord, accept me as I am—my weakness, my brokenness, and my worries—even as I come to You. Teach me to live my life humbly before You, in obedience to Your commands, as I carry out Your will in the world. Together with my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, may we be the salt and light that You want us to be! Amen.
What is one thing that you can do to bless a person whom you have in mind? Pray that God would lead you to do it, and open the way for you!
Rev Dr Leonard Wee
Registrar and New Testament Lecturer
Trinity Theological College