“But as it is, he [Jesus] has appeared once for all at the end of the age to remove sin by the sacrifice of himself.”
~Hebrews 9:26b (NRSV [modified]).
Christ our High Priest, simply the grandest truth available. He is better in so many ways. He offered himself, not as a copy and not another blood sacrifice, but he offered his very own self. And this once for all, that sin’s power might forever be vanquished, as far as those who choose to believe in this resurrected power are concerned. There remains forever more, no barrier to God the Father.
Hebrews is a classical book of ancient literary note; and it is marked for its sweeping contrasts. All sorts of things are compared with Jesus—things that were once considered the nexus of the faith, are now inferior... angels, Moses, the Old Testament priesthood, the Old Covenant versus the New etc. Christ is greater than all these—he became the New Covenant sacrifice.
And in chapter 10 of Hebrews, faith, as a construct built on the fact of grace—the key New Covenant plectrum, commences that journey of completion. Faith is better than the Law.
Faith in Christ is the very meaning of New Covenant—in Jeremiah 31:33, ‘God’s law (of love) in our hearts and minds’—not some weighty Suzerainty treaty the Old Covenant was enshrined in, although the base Suzerain-vassal principle still exists.
The ‘end of the age’ in Hebrews 9:26 above is not about ‘end times’—it is the commencement of that period leading up to Christ’s return. The ‘end of the age’ came upon Jesus’ fulfilment of many Old Testament (and indeed his own) prophesies, for instance—but not limited to—his death on the cross, his rising again on the third day, and his ascension into heaven at Pentecost.
As an aside, it’s interesting to note three ages over the history of creation: the first before the Law (pre-Moses); the second of the Law; the third, from the incarnation of Jesus—“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (John 1:14a NIV)—to the present day.
And the key point—or at least one of them—of Hebrews is, Jesus came to be the ‘once for all’ eternal blood sacrifice, that we’d have a way back to the Father through him—all fares paid—tickets to heaven received on consignment, simply in our belief upon repentance.
In the sacrifice of his very own self, Jesus put paid to sin’s power in this life, and he put paid to death’s power over us, both in this life spiritually and after we die physically. We now no longer die spiritually, if we choose to believe in the Son of God.
Sin, the construct of spiritual death in this life, is now rid of. Its power is annulled upon faith in Jesus. ‘In the fullness of time,’ (Galatians 4:4) God made a way for humankind to be reconciled—once, for all, no “ifs” or “buts”—to him, who obeyed his Father to death on a cross.
© 2010 S. J. Wickham.
General Reference: Arthur W. Pink, An Exposition of Hebrews (