When Christ Appears
“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” (Heb. 9:28).
- Hebrews 9:27–28
The high priesthood of Jesus Christ is a pervasive theme in the epistle to the Hebrews. Chapter 5 deals with Jesus’ priestly work in verses 1–10. Chapter 7 covers the priestly order to which He belongs. A firm grasp of these ideas was (and still is) necessary for Christians to grow into maturity (6:1–3).
So much of Jesus’ priestly work is done in the temple of heaven (9:11–12) that it can be easy to forget the intercession He performs on our behalf. Christ’s death and physical absence made it especially difficult for the original audience to maintain their faith in the midst of persecution. For the death of Christ was, and still is, used by opponents of the faith to deny the Lordship of Jesus.
However, there is no new covenant without the death of its Mediator. It is the blood of Christ that makes Him the Mediator of the new covenant (vv. 13–15). He had to die in order for redemption to move from the shadows into reality (vv. 18–24).
After carefully explaining that Jesus’ death was a once-for-all sacrifice (vv. 25–26), verses 27–28 look at the death of the God-man in light of the death that comes to all men in order to explain what happens next in the history of redemption. When men die, they die only once, and then they face judgment (v. 27). Christ, because He is the Man upon whom the Father pours out His wrath, also suffers death. But the judgment that Christ endured is different than the judgment man endures. For Christ was vindicated by His resurrection and declared to be the Son of God with power. And this complete vindication will become clear to all people when Christ returns to save His elect finally from the presence of sin (v. 28).
This blessed hope of the return of Christ steadies our souls and enables us to face all sorts of hardships and persecutions. For we know that, at His return, the presence of the curse will finally be completely removed from us, as well as the rest of the created order. On this point, John Owen writes, “Christ’s appearance, for the second time, his return from heaven completes the salvation of the church and is the great fundamental principle of our faith and hope. Faith in the second coming of Christ is sufficient support for the souls of believers in their difficulties and trials.”
Do you eagerly await Christ’s return (v. 28)? Or are you more concerned with storing up earthly treasures? Do you truly believe that Christ will bring a reality much better than the one we presently experience? Consider these things in prayer and ask the Lord to make you eagerly await His return.
Passages for Further Study
- Hab. 2:3
- Zeph. 3:14–20
- Matt. 28:20b
- Rev. 22:20
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