Hebrews 9:23 – 28
Thus it was necessary for the sketches of the heavenly things to be purified with these rites, but the heavenly things themselves need better sacrifices than these. For Christ did not enter a sanctuary made by human hands, a mere copy of the true one, but he entered into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. Nor was it to offer himself again and again, as the high priest enters the Holy Place year after year with blood that is not his own; for then he would have had to suffer again and again since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the age to remove sin by the sacrifice of himself. And just as it is appointed for mortals to die once, and after that the judgement, 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.
‘Once for all.’ There is such a wealth of hope in these words. In our human lives, we launch out on the really meaningful things in our lives once for all, and when we make these commitments we mean them. But we are human, and weak, and fail. Marriage entered into with such hope and shining eyes too often falls apart into unbearable unhappiness, and separation and divorce follow on from that once for all promise.
Sometimes the very words betray the fact that we do not believe in ‘once for all’. A mother at the end of her tether telling a wayward child that she’s telling him for the last time, once for all… but in her heart she knows as she speaks the words that it won’t be the last time.
In our transient world, there seems to be no permanence, no ‘once for all’ that we can truly believe in. Which is why the Gospel is so wonderful. Counter-cultural. A God who says what he means and does what he says he’ll do. A God who does the amazing cosmos-transforming thing once for all and it really is once for all.
There is a sufficiency about Christ that marks him out from all the changing uncertainties of humanity. And how we need his unchangingness to cling onto. Not as something in past history but as something for the now, and something for the future. For if we can be confident in his once for all sacrifice, we can be equally confident that he will return again for those who wait for him.
Steady us, Lord Jesus, in the sureness of your love.
Forgive us for our frailty and fickleness, for our difficulty with the once for alls in our own lives.
And help us rejoice in your once for all sacrifice, and look forward to your return,