Jesus’ Sacrifice – Hebrews 10

Read the Passage: Hebrews 10

Listen to the Redeemed Mind Podcast: Hebrews 10

Sufficiency (10:1–10)

In Hebrews 9 the author focused on the limitations of the service in the earthly tabernacle and the sufficiency of Jesus’ sacrifice. In Hebrews 10 the author further explains certain aspects of Christ’s atoning death. As he had done in Heb. 9:6–10, so here in Heb. 10:1–4 the author notes the insufficiency of animal sacrifices within the sacrificial system. In Heb. 10:1 the author writes the ceremonial law is merely a “shadow of the good things to come” (cf. Col. 2:17). He then makes three observations that highlight the insufficiency of animal sacrifices. First, the offerings at the earthly tabernacle needed to be offered “year by year” (Heb. 10:1). Second, the animal sacrifices did not resolve “consciousness of sins” (Heb. 10:2; cf. Heb. 9:9, 14). Third, the continual offering of animals at the earthly tabernacle repeatedly served as a “reminder of [the presence of] sins” (Heb. 10:3).

In Heb. 10:5–10 the author quotes Ps. 40:6–8. While Psalm 40 is identified as a psalm of David in the Old Testament, here in Heb. 10:5–7 the author introduces the psalm in the third person, in reference to Christ. This shows that it is actually Jesus, the greater David, who is speaking in this psalm. While God did reveal the sacrificial system, and He commanded the tabernacle offerings, in this citation the author teaches that God never desired the earthly sacrifices, nor did He take pleasure in them. Rather, what mattered to God was that which the animal sacrifices pictured—that is, the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Furthermore, note that the author quotes Ps. 40:8 twice in this passage to teach that Jesus’ death was God’s will (cf. Acts 2:23). In contrast to animal sacrifices, which were ended by Jesus’ atonement, Christ’s death on the cross saves mankind “once for all” (Heb. 10:10).

Significance (10:11–18)

In Heb. 10:11–18 the author again notes the sufficiency of Jesus’ atoning sacrifice. In contrast to “every priest [who] stands ministering daily” (Heb. 10:11), the author writes that Jesus “offered one sacrifice for sins forever [and] sat down at the right hand of God” (Heb. 10:12; cf. Heb. 8:1). Indeed, on account of their insufficiency, the Levitical priests’ work was never done; yet Christ’s work, as both a High Priest and as an atoning sacrifice, is sufficient and complete (cf. John 19:30). In Heb. 10:15–18 the author again quotes Jer. 31:33–34 to reiterate that Jesus’ death is the fulfillment of the New Covenant. Moreover, in contrast to the offerings in the sacrificial system which left a “consciousness of sins” (Heb. 10:2), the effect of Jesus’ sacrifice is, “Their sins and their lawless deed I will remember no more” (Heb. 10:17); thus, there is no longer a need for repetitive sacrifices.

Effect (10:19–39)

At Heb. 10:19 the author notes that believers can now have access to God and “enter the Holiest,” for Christ is both our sacrifice and our High Priest. Moreover, believers’ “hearts [are] sprinkled from an evil conscience” (Heb. 10:22; cf. Heb. 9:9, 14; 10:2). Indeed, salvation, sanctification, and access to God are assured, for God has promised these things to believers and “He who promised is faithful” (Heb. 10:23). In Heb. 10:24–25 the author references an important benefit of sanctification—that is, the gathered church. In this passage Christians are exhorted to not forsake the assembling of themselves. The gathering of the Body of Christ is important, for the church is the pillar and the ground of truth (cf. 1 Tim. 3:15), the church is a context for exhortation among followers of Jesus (cf. Heb. 10:25), and the church provides much needed fellowship among weary Christians (cf. Acts 2:42).

Heb. 10:26–31 is one of the well-known warning passages in the book of Hebrews. While the author uses striking language here, his intent is merely to exhort his readers to do that about which he has just been writing—that is, “to hold fast [to] the confession of our hope without wavering” (Heb. 10:23). The author’s message here is simply that if someone understands the gospel and rejects it, then they are without hope (in that moment, at least)—for they have denied the only source of hope, who is Jesus Christ. In Heb. 10:32–39 the author writes to encourage his readers in their shared faith. As such, he calls them to recall their former conversion and the results of their faith, which included: great struggles, sufferings, reproaches, tribulations, compassion for sufferers, and joyful plundering of their material goods. These are all marks of “those who believe to the saving of the soul” (Heb. 10:39).

Application Questions:

  1. How can we know that Jesus’ death on the cross is sufficient for all of our sins—past, present, and future?
  2. How could Jesus’ death on the cross bring Him delight (cf. Ps. 40:8) and joy (cf. Heb. 12:2)?
  3. Is your memory of your past forgiven sins greater than God’s? Was Jesus’ death on the cross sufficient for our future sins (cf. Isa. 53:4–6)?
  4. Do you appreciate the benefits of the gathered Body of Christ? Why do many Christians not gather regularly with a local church?
  5. What practical events can you look to in your life as proof of your own salvation? Has becoming a follower of Christ cost you anything?