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Lesson 10: Jesus, Our Sacrifice and Salvation *

Introduction: If you are a Christian, the idea of the blood of Jesus cleansing you from sin is a familiar concept. Think about this idea as if you had never heard of it before. The blood cleanses.... Does that make any sense? Can blood clean anything? Just before I left on a trip to present a seminar on religious liberty, I decided late in the day to shave with a new razor. Either something was wrong with the new razor, or something was wrong with me. I ended up bleeding heavily almost all the way across my throat. Did I think, "Good, that will help to keep my white shirt clean and pure?" Of course not. Why does the Bible say the blood of Jesus cleanses us? Let's dive into Hebrews and find out!

  1. Blood: The Necessary Ingredient.

    1. Assume that you learned that some local church killed dogs or cats as part of its religious services every week. What would be your reaction to that?

    2. Read Hebrews 10:3-4. To what historical event does this text refer? (This refers to the Old Testament sanctuary service in which animals were killed as part of the religious service.)

      1. What logical sense do you see in killing animals to appease a god?

      2. Does this text ( Hebrews 10:4) admit that there is no logical sense in killing animals?

    3. Read Leviticus 17:10-12. The instruction to the Israelites was to refrain from eating blood. Why? (Verse 11 makes the connection between animal sacrifices and blood. God said that the blood of the animal makes atonement for sin.)

      1. Do Leviticus 17:11 and Hebrews 10:4 contradict each other? Does Leviticus teach us that animal sacrifice atones for sin and Hebrews teaches us that it does not?

        1. If they do not contradict each other, why not?

    4. What logic do you see in the Leviticus 17:11 statement that the blood of the animal makes atonement for sin?

    5. According to Leviticus 17:11, what does blood represent? (The life of the animal.)

    6. What is the penalty for sin? What does God say will result from sin? ( Genesis 2:15-17 and Romans 6:23 tell us that sin results in death.)

      1. Does the statement that blood represents the life of the animal help to reveal the logical link between sin and the shedding of the animal's blood? (God's logic seems to be this: sin causes death. To remind us of that terrible fact, the Old Testament sanctuary service had the sinner bring an animal which was killed on the sinner's behalf. This had nothing to do with "appeasing" God.)

        1. Why not just kill the sinner? There are many today who would say this was "species discrimination!" Why should that cute, innocent animal die to help a human? (The "point" of the sanctuary service was that the sinner was not being required to pay the penalty for sin. The whole system was, to some degree, illogical. But, that was the point. The lesson was that someone else would end up paying for the sin.)

    7. If blood represents life, what does spilled blood represent? (Death.)

    8. We have learned so far that blood represents or symbolizes the life of humans and animals. Spilled blood obviously represents the death of humans and animals. Since sin causes death, it essentially requires blood to be "spilled."

  2. Blood: The Cleaner.

    1. Read Hebrews 9:13-14. How did the blood of animals make sinners clean under the Old Testament sanctuary service? (It made them clean "outside." It made them feel like they were clean.)

      1. How does the blood (death) of Jesus clean us? (This text tells us that Jesus cleans us from sin in a far more significant way. Recall that the point of the Old Testament system of animal sacrifices was that "someone else" suffered the results of sin. Jesus is that "someone else." The natural consequence of our sin is death. Jesus stepped in and took our place. He died for us.)

      2. This still leaves some uncertainty about how this "cleanses" us. We understand that Jesus' sacrifice on our behalf means we are no longer under a death sentence. But would it be fair to say that this cleanses us of sin?

        1. Note especially that Hebrews 9:14 tells us that Jesus' blood "cleanses" our conscience? How is that logically true? (This is at the heart of practical Christian living. If you truly believe that Jesus spilled His blood because of your sins, that should cause you to turn away from sin. Consider again the lesson from the Old Testament sanctuary system. Assume you told your children that you would kill their pet if they disobeyed you. If they took you seriously, your kids would surely obey. To a lesser extent, I imagine that the Israelites who brought an animal to sacrifice for their sins felt some remorse over killing the animal (although not nearly as much remorse as if it were a pet). Thus, the system tended to deter sin. In the same way, your knowledge of how Jesus suffered for your sins should deter you from sin. That knowledge should tend to "clean you up." "Cleanse [y]our consciences" ( Hebrews 9:14) from sinful acts.)

        2. Consider another example: a father encourages his son to go out drinking with him. They drink too much, and it is largely the father's fault. The son then gets in his car, drives off the road, and is killed. Would this tend to discourage the father from drinking in the future?

  3. Jesus: The Inspiration.

    1. Read Hebrews 12:2. Why did Jesus suffer torture and death on the cross? ("For the joy set before Him.")

      1. What joy was that? (The defeat of sin, the proof that God's law could be obeyed, the rescue of humanity from death.)

      2. Why would we fix our eyes on Jesus? What is being suggested here?

    2. Read Hebrews 12:3-4. Why do these verses suggest that we should keep our eyes on Jesus? (In the last section, we learned that contemplating the death of Jesus should cause us to be reluctant to sin. These verses go beyond that and suggest that Jesus' patient endurance of His "enemies" should inspire us to patiently endure our enemies. Both Jesus' life and death inspire us to obey God's law.)

      1. How would you restate the point of verse 4?(Be encouraged, you guys have not had it as bad as Jesus had it. He was killed.)

        1. Does this encourage you?

    3. Let's jump back to Hebrews 12:2 for just a minute. Read it again. We are told that Jesus is the "author and perfecter of our faith." After having studied this lesson, how do you understand Jesus to be the author and perfecter of your faith? (This is a summary of our lesson. Jesus died in our place. With that Jesus "authored" our salvation. However, contemplation of His sacrifice tends to "clean" us from sin because it deters us from sinning. Jesus' life inspires us to turn away from sin, to not give into those people who would cause us to sin. That tends to "perfect" our faith.)

    4. Friend, Jesus' blood will cleanse you from sin. Will you accept this cleaner? Will you give serious consideration to what Jesus did on your behalf? If so, repent and ask Him to clean you from sin today.

  4. Next Week: Jesus, Our Assurance.
* Copr. 2003, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.

© 2021 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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