His Own Blood
“He entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption” (Heb. 9:12).
Those of us who have lived in a country that offers little opposition to Christianity sometimes take the Lordship of Christ for granted. When there is minimal physical or emotional threat to our lives, it may be easier to embrace the Gospel. However, this was not the situation in which the original audience of the book of Hebrews lived. Persecution was the result of believing the Gospel, and thus it was tempting for this audience to abandon its confession. Facing persecution, it was easy for them to ask what was so much better about the covenant that Christ mediates.
The answer to this question is found in the book of Hebrews. Our author points out the inferiority of the old covenant by reminding his audience that a new one had been promised (8:7). But the promise of the new covenant is not the only thing that demonstrates the inferiority of the old one. The Holy Spirit, through the regulations of the Law, shows us that the old covenant was inferior because there was no direct access to the presence of God for the ordinary worshiper (9:6–10).
When Jesus came, all of this changed. He is superior because He is the Mediator of the things that have come (v. 11). He is better than the old covenant priestly system as He is the one whose faithfulness secured all the promises of the covenant.
Written to an audience that doubted the superiority of Christ, verses 11–12 explain the reasons why Christ was so much better than the old covenant priests. In closing, John Calvin offers lucid thoughts about how the author of Hebrews demonstrates the superiority of Christ in these verses. Jesus has the dignity of the former priests but is different in that He brings blessings that “secure a perpetuity to his priesthood.” Like the ancient high priest, Christ also enters into the temple, but Christ “alone entered into heaven through the temple of his own body.” Both Christ and the high priests of old entered the Holy of Holies only once, but, as Calvin writes, “to the earthly (temple) it was every year, while it was to the heavenly (temple) for ever, even to the end of the world.” And most amazingly, Christ and the old covenant priests both offered blood but “Christ offered, not the blood of beasts, but his own blood.”
John Owen writes, “from his infinite love and grace [Jesus] humbly went [to shed His blood on the cross], so God could be glorified and his church sanctified and saved. It is right for us always to consider what love, gratitude, and obedience we owe Christ on account of this.” Indeed, let us wonder at such wondrous love.
Passages for Further Study
Num. 14:18; Lam. 3:31–33; John 3:16–17; Rom. 5:6–8