The other day I was thinking about Easter when I was a little girl. My Mom always bought me a new dress to wear Easter Sunday, many times a hat, and new patent leather white shoes. As I was thinking on these memories the other day, I thought that this represented the new creation we are in Christ Jesus. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Cor. 5:17)
The hope of the cross was always before people in the Old Testament. Before Jesus died for us on the cross and was resurrected in victory over sin and death, priests offered annual blood sacrifices to the Lord to atone for the people’s sin, including their own, but these sacrifices “were not able to clear the conscience of the worshiper” (Heb. 9:7-9). These sacrifices, an act of slaughtering an animal or surrendering a possession as an offering to God, were made ritualistically to follow the letter of the law. “It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.” (Heb. 10:4)
The law was put in place to set before the people a moral code to live by. The Lord meant for the people to look into their hearts, repent and follow the Lord’s decrees not out of obligation, but out of love for Him. “For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” (1 Sam 16:7b) Isaiah prophesied about the coming of our Lord Jesus and the sacrifice that pleased the Father: “But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on Him, and by His wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all…because He poured out His life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors; for He bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.” (Is. 53:5-6, 12b)
We just celebrated that our Lord arose and conquered sin and death after taking our sins upon Himself at the cross. We all have the opportunity to hear the good news of Christ and believe in Him as the blameless Son of God, who died for our sins, and arose from the tomb. “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace” (Eph. 1:7). This is the sacrifice that pleased our Father, and through this final sacrifice “God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And He has committed to us the message of reconciliation” (2 Cor. 5:19). This is God’s gift of grace to us “If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Rom. 10:9)
God’s mercy and grace abound for those who believe. “You were dead in sins, and your sinful desires were not yet cut away. Then He gave you a share in the very life of Christ, for He forgave all your sins, and blotted out the charges proved against you, the list of His commandments which you had not obeyed. He took this list of sins and destroyed it by nailing it to Christ’s cross. In this way God took away Satan’s power to accuse you of sin, and God openly displayed to the whole world Christ’s triumph at the cross where your sins were all taken away.” (Col. 2:113-15 TLB)
And by His will, “we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (Heb. 10:10) This morning I just noticed the verb tense used here, which is present perfect. “We have been” describes an action–made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ–that began in the past, continues in the present and will continue in the future. The Lord always had this plan for us! Thanks be to God that Christ’s death and resurrection is perfect and complete for cleansing our sins, is pleasing to Him, and has not lost it’s power to change our lives, and it never will.