All of us long for redemption. Even villains long for a happy ending. Storybook characters struggle with guilt. If you follow the ABC TV show, Once Upon A Time, you know that the current story arc focuses on this topic.
In last week’s episode, “Best Laid Plans” (S4 E17), Prince Charming and Snow White think they are protecting their unborn child, Emma, by stealing Maleficent’s egg. When they discover it is a baby and the sorcerer sends it through a portal to another dimension, they are plagued with guilt.
Snow White asks Prince Charming if redemption is possible. He responds, “I have to believe that we can earn forgiveness. A chance at grace. But to get there, we have to be the best people we can. Work for hope and faith every day. Because otherwise what we did will stay with us forever.”
Sin, of course, is man’s greatest problem. No matter what kind of religion a man has, if it cannot deal with sin, it is of no value. By nature, men and women are sinners; and by choice, men and women prove that their nature is sinful. It has well been said, “We are not sinners because we sin. We sin because we are sinners.”
As the characters in Once Upon A Time are discovering, our good deeds cannot erase our guilt. We cannot earn forgiveness.
The author of Hebrews addresses this issue in chapter 10:1-18. In verses 1-4, he explains that we need a better sacrifice.
By their very nature, sacrifices were inferior. They were a shadow of things to come. The sacrifices were designed to be temporary, not permanent. They never brought the worshipper into a permanent relationship with God.
Animal sacrifices cannot take away sin. They only remind you that you have to do it again next year. The next sacrifice reminded you that the previous one didn’t do the job. It wasn’t enough.
The sacrifices could cover sin, but they couldn’t take it away. A better sacrifice was needed.
Fortunately for us, God provided a better sacrifice (5-9). The New Covenant replaced the Old Covenant. Christ’s sacrifice was different because he came to do the Father’s will. After Christ’s death, no further sacrifice was needed. He paid the penalty for sin once for all. He settled the question finally and completely.
Unlike animal sacrifices, Christ’s sacrifice doesn’t need to be repeated (11-18).
The ministry of the priests in the tabernacle and temple was never done and never different: they stood and offered the same sacrifices day after day. This constant repetition was proof that their sacrifices did not take away sins.
What tens of thousands of animal sacrifices could not accomplish, Jesus accomplished with one sacrifice forever! When he was done, Christ sat down. His sacrifice was complete.
The witness of the Holy Spirit confirms this to us.
God’s forgiveness is so complete that he chooses not to remember our sins any longer. When we come to Christ and receive forgiveness, God no longer holds our sin against us.
“When a sinner trusts Christ, his sins are all forgiven, the guilt is gone, and the matter is completely settled forever.” Warren Wiersbe
This is the synopsis of a devotional given at the Good Friday service at First Central Baptist Church in Chicopee, MA, on April 3, 2015.