Better than Sacrifices

What’s going on? You may say it on joining a group of people after being out of the room, or on coming across a riot, or in other circumstances. We hope people will ask it of Christmas: What’s going on? What does it all mean? Why the celebration? The writer to Hebrews explains in Hebrews 10:5-10 “when Christ was about to come into the world” and he uses words quoted from Psalm 40:6-8 to explain What’s going on – the purpose and significance of Christ, his birth, life and death (confusingly, he uses Septuagint – the Greek translation of the Old Testament, which differs slightly from the Hebrew original behind our English translations).

What is the main point? OBEDIENCE is very much more important than SACRIFICE. The punch line is

Then I said, ‘Here I am—it is written about me in the scroll—     I have come to do your will, my God.’”

Hebrews 10:7

Of course, sacrifice was set out in Old Testament, but it was educational, and temporary. The killing of animals who had no idea of what was going on might teach the cost of sin, and God’s ownership of all creation, but it offered no lasting solution to restoring the relationship between God and his people. Even in those times, prophets and others pointed beyond the observance of sacrifice; now Jesus arrives, and

And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

Hebrews 10:10

This is what we celebrate at Christmas, the beginning of Jesus perfect obedience through life, and to death, which is the perfect sacrifice. It leaves us to think about our own obedience. Sacrifice is much easier – I’ll go to church, I’ll give some money. Obedience lets God into all sorts of things; will I do things that way – will I let God tell me how to do everything? Sacrifice is easier, because it is limited; obedience is better but it is the best and fullest way!

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