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Hebrews 9: 24-28 “A Stand In For You” 11/11/2018

Boardman United Methodist Church

Rev. Jerry W. Krueger

On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, the Great War, the “war to end all wars”, World War I ended. November 11, became a day of remembrance, and since our text is Hebrews 9 speaks of Christ’s sacrificial death, this is opportune to discuss sacrifice.

World War I lasted four years, leaving 9 million soldiers dead and 21 million wounded. Germany, Russia, France and Great Britain each lost about a million soldiers. The United States suffered 116,000 losses, more than twice the number killed in Vietnam.

Germany was running out of soldiers and supplies, and with the country near collapse, the Armistice was signed. Within a year of the anniversary of the Armistice, remembrances began. It became a U.S. holiday in 1938, and after World War II and the Korean War, the name was changed to Veterans Day. This day is dedicated to American veterans of all our wars.

The Book of Hebrews identifies Jesus as the One who came to “remove sin by the sacrifice of himself” (v. 26). His blood was shed at the cross, once for all. Unlike the high priest in the Jerusalem temple who entered “the Holy Place, year after year with blood that is not his own” — meaning sacrificed animal blood. But not the Christ.

Jesus gave HIS own blood, and laid down his life as sacrifice one time, “to bear the sins of many” (v. 28).Not over and over.

Some “lay down one’s life for one’s friends” as Jesus taught in John 15:13.

Desmond Doss, a devout Christian, refused to touch a weapon or work on the Sabbath, yet joined the Army in World War II as a combat medic.

Members of his unit called him slacker, and tossed shoes at him as he prayed. On Okinawa in the spring of 1945, under heavy Japanese fire, Doss climbed “Hacksaw Ridge,” and for over 12 hours, crawled from wounded soldier to wounded soldier, dragging 75 of them to safety. He prayed the whole time, “Lord, please help me get one more.”

Those who had shamed him, now offered praise, and Doss was awarded the Medal of Honor in 1945. 70 years later, he was the focus of the movie Hacksaw Ridge. He is an example of one who extended self, on behalf of others.

 

Jesus sacrificed himself and “appeared once for all at the end of the age to remove sin by the sacrifice of himself” (v. 26). Through death on the cross, and resurrection to new life, Jesus bore “the sins of many,” which resulted in a restored relationship with God (v. 28).

The sacrifice of Christ is good news for all who admit sin exists in their lives. Sin is separation, brokenness, anything that keeps us from God. Like never accepting blame, ignoring your own actions that cause harm, gossip, lying, withholding the tithe from God’s storehouse, hating the other, prejudice, sexism, a murderous tongue, and others.

There was a deadly cost to Jesus stepping in for us, sacrificing for us. What Jesus faced in Jerusalem, was a struggle every bit as harrowing as the fighting at Okinawa, Chosin Reservoir, at Khe Sanh, in Beirut, Panama, Fallujah, Mosul, or Afghanistan.

Jesus enters the Temple courtyard during Jewish Holy Week knowing full well, he was entering the Judean regional ant hill of religious, political and economic power.

He's aware he’d be seen as a threat to Roman rule, to economic forces, to the priests and Pharisees who had everything to lose with Jesus on the scene. His words and actions were not hidden from the occupying Roman troops, who were there to arrest and crucify anyone viewed as a threat to Roman power.

Christ was crucified by the Roman Empire, not by the Jews, although the Jewish leadership in power was pleased to see this status quo challenging trouble maker go. Christ spoke up, spoke out, and spoke for the voiceless poor widow, for the struggling, for the marginalized. The rich had lawyers and Pharisaical priests to speak for them, but the “others on the margins” had no one.

It’s as if you, the guilty party will be convicted and put to death, imprisoned for life at the least. And Jesus says to the judge, “I stand in for this person. Someone will pay the price for the crime committed, I offer myself, so they can live a new, free life, without guilt or sin.” “Jesus is innocent. But he willingly dies in your place. Get it?

Are we really surprised Jesus was a risk taker, who fought status quo, and didn’t cower in the presence of an oppressive government that cared little for its people?

“No one has greater love than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13). Christ would consider any who love him his friend, and he laid down his life for those who do not know him yet. Christ’s sacrifice is unique in that it was “offered once to bear the sins of many” (v. 28). Sin is anything that separates us from God, and from each other.

Sin is any unloving word or action that drive wedges between people destroying relationships. Jesus died on the cross, taking on my sins, your sins, the sins of millions of others today and from the past.

In that sacrificial act of dying on the cross, so that YOU might live in eternal life, Jesus restored our relationship with the Father. Jesus stands in, intercedes on my behalf, and does what I cannot do for myself. I cannot save myself. Only Jesus can save.

 

The cross of Christ was like an Armistice moment, when Jesus died, hostilities ceased. Christ lives out his sacrificial life in a way, that affects us who follow him, so that we too speak for the marginalized, and sometimes go against what culture and society say is acceptable.

When we put our faith in Christ, and trust him to be our Lord, we become more able to love God and neighbor in a new way. Our lives are filled by the love of Christ, not the culture of the day.

This path is counter intuitive. It’s revolutionary to fail to pay back hate with more hate, but instead with love. Hebrews states Jesus “will appear a second time, not to deal with sin, but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him” (v. 28).

We who follow Christ are part of the Kingdom of God right now. Christ offers each of us the gift of redemption, he atoned for us, died for us, in our place, on our behalf, so that we might have eternal life, if we call out to him. Live your life from this day forward, making each day count, as the recipient of one who died sacrificially on your behalf.

And all of God’s joy filled, thankful people proclaimed. Amen.