Hebrews 9:11-15

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, November 22, 2021 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

“But when Christ came as high priest of the good things that are now already here, he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not made with human hands, that is to say, is not a part of this creation. He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption. The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God! For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance —now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.” -Hebrews 9:11-15

For the last few chapters of this letter, the author had discussed Jesus as the great high priest, and then in chapter 8, he discussed how because of that role, we now have a new covenant from God. In the first part of chapter 9, he connected those concepts and began discussing the place of worship. The next step in his discussion is looking at specifically what Jesus Christ has done for us and why that’s important.

In verse 11, we again see mention of Christ as the high priest, but it says that He came as “the high priest of the good things that are now already here.” That phrase is difficult to interpret, as the manuscripts are divided as to whether it should read as we see in this NIV translation or if it should say “the good things that are to come.” We do not get an explanation of what these good things are, but the context indicates that they are the work that Christ has accomplished and all of the blessings that act brings to us - whether they are already here or yet to come.

Next, we see that Jesus did not come to the earthly tabernacle or temple; rather he went through the “greater and more perfect tabernacle.” The author tells us that this one is not made with human hands and is not part of this creation. But what does that phrase represent? Some believe it refers to heaven, though others believe it refers to Christ’s body. While Genesis 1:1 tells us that God created the heavens and the earth, that word for heavens also refers to the skies. Heaven, as in the actual dwelling place of God, would have already existed before the creation because God Himself existed then. Jesus also existed before creation. Neither Jesus nor heaven was man-made, so both are possible interpretations.

Verse 12 begins a discussion on blood for a few verses. Under the Old Testament law and covenant, animals were sacrificed to pay the penalty for human sins. The penalty for sin was death, so something had to die and blood needed to be shed to pay for those sins. Goats and calves were the animals used in the rituals of the annual Day of Atonement, hence why they are mentioned here. But Jesus’ sacrifice completed atonement for all of humanity once and for all! It does not need to be repeated. Through that one sacrifice, we all may obtain eternal redemption from our sins.

The author references specific sacrificial procedures from the Old Testament law in verse 13. These offered external purification – making a person ceremonially and outwardly clean. This was required based on Numbers 19. The original readers of this letter would have been familiar with those ceremonial cleansing laws, so the author does not need to elaborate on them here.

But the author does use those ceremonial laws to show in verse 14 how much more important Jesus Christ is than those laws! The language here is very emphatic, showing that Christ’s once and for all sacrifice was so much greater than anything that the priests could do. Jesus Christ, eternally God, was the completely pure sacrifice that was offered on our behalf. He never sinned; we (all of humanity) are the ones who sin. Though He did not at all deserve the punishment, Jesus offered Himself in our place before God. Because of this, we are forgiven of our sins!

It is important to note that the work of Jesus Christ is on a whole different level than the work of the sacrifices that were performed according to the Old Testament law. Those were external and material, whereas the work of Jesus is internal and cleanses the person’s conscience. The Old Testament sacrifices could never accomplish that.

Verse 15 gives a summary of this section: “For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance —now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.”

Because of all that Jesus Christ has done and how it dwarfs the previous covenant and the sacrifices that it required, He is the mediator of the new covenant. This new covenant brings us the promised eternal inheritance – this is not something temporary, but it will last forever! We know that God’s promises always come true, and this is no exception. Jesus died once and for all, so that all people who believe in Him may be set free from all the sins they have committed.

This is the whole of the gospel message all in one verse. The author has been setting this up for a couple of chapters now, and this is the ultimate point: Jesus Christ has died as payment for all of our sins, so that we may have eternal life.

Many people today do not follow the same rituals that the Jews did back in Biblical times, so to us it may seem like a lot of buildup to get to this point. But for those who had been brought up in the Jewish sacrificial and worship system, they would have needed this detailed background setup to fully understand the significance of what Jesus accomplished on the cross. Their system of sacrifices and ritual cleansings was no longer necessary; Jesus had fulfilled it! We are now under a new covenant, where all that is needed is faith in Jesus Christ.

This forum is meant to foster discussion and allow for differing viewpoints to be explored with equal and respectful consideration.  All comments are moderated and any foul language or threatening/abusive comments will not be approved.  Users who engage in threatening or abusive comments which are physically harmful in nature will be reported to the authorities.