Hebrews 8:13. In speaking of a new covenant, he makes the first one obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.
The other day my daughter wanted to watch the home movies of herself as a baby. But there was a problem. All those movies are on VHS tapes and we don’t own a VCR. Why not? Because VCRs are obsolete. We’ve replaced the VCR in our home with something better – a blu-ray player (which is also quickly becoming obsolete). Because VCRs failed to be good enough, they vanished away from my house.
The writer of Hebrews is writing to Jewish Christians that have had a life-long relationship with the Old Sinai Covenant. Their entire history as a nation has been lived under this covenant. Moses himself mediated it. It was written atop a smoking mountain by the hand of God. This covenant made the Hebrews God’s specially chosen people. His own possession and priesthood. And let’s not forget that they were severely punished as a nation whenever they set aside this covenant.
And now they’re being told by God to set it all aside. To see it as obsolete, old, and vanishing away. We can only imagine how difficult a message this must have been for these Jewish believers to receive.
What these precious saints (and us too) must understand is that the Old Covenant law could not, and did not create intimacy with God. In fact, it built a wall between God and man. A necessary wall because of sin. But a wall nonetheless. In addition, the Old Covenant never actually dealt with sins or cleansed the consciences of the people (see Hebrews chapter 9).
But praise God there is a better covenant, the new covenant. With a better mediator, Jesus. With a better sacrifice, Christ’s own life. And with better promises, every sin forgiven and every heart made new.
The author of Hebrews is trying to show us that Jesus is enough. No add-ons necessary. No returning to the old rituals and laws that only take away from the finished work of Christ. He’s trying to show them that being in Christ is all they need.
Why would we want to run back to a system that is old, obsolete, and vanishing? Why run back to a religious system that never really worked in the first place, and was only a shadow of a greater reality?
And yet that is what Christians do so often. We add-on to Jesus.
Jesus + ___.
What do you fill in the blank with?
Jesus + confession of sin.
Jesus + dedicating my life to Christ.
Jesus + spiritual renewal.
Jesus + trying harder.
Jesus + doing more.
Jesus + praying.
Jesus + Bible study.
Jesus + resolution.
Jesus + being like Jesus.
Jesus + “I will.”
Jesus + love and gratitude.
Jesus + moral goodness.
You see, the problem with everything in those blanks above is that, although they all might sound good, they all, like the Old Covenant tabernacle and sacrifices, only create barriers between you and God, and fail to cleanse the conscience.
Only Jesus + nothing can remove every barrier and completely cleanse the conscience. Everything else will leave us wondering if we’ve done enough. If we were sincere enough. If we meant it enough.
“To live is Christ” is living in the full assurance of the New Covenant promises of God in Christ – every sin graciously forgiven and God’s law of love emblazoned upon our minds and hearts. It is living with Jesus + nothing as our hope. And finding him to be enough.
What do you add-on to Jesus?
You in Christ
How do the promises of the New Covenant allow you to trust Christ alone?
Christ in you
Where does Christ need to be “enough” for you today?
Playlist: Better Promises.
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