Sunday School Lesson

June 16

Lesson 3 (KJV)

The New Covenant’s Sacrifice

Devotional Reading: Psalm 50:1–15

Background Scripture: Hebrews 9:11–28

Hebrews 9:11–22

11. But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building;

 

12. Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.

 

13. For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh:

 

14. How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

 

15. And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.

 

16. For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator.

 

17. For a testament is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth.

 

18. Whereupon neither the first testament was dedicated without blood.

 

19. For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and of goats, with water, and scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book, and all the people,

 

20. Saying, This is the blood of the testament which God hath enjoined unto you.

 

21. Moreover he sprinkled with blood both the tabernacle, and all the vessels of the ministry.

22. And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.

Graphic: Enterline Design Services LLC / iStock / Thinkstock

Key Verse

Almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.—Hebrews 9:22

Lesson Aims

After participating in this lesson, each learner will be able to:

 

1. Define Christ’s roles as high priest and mediator.

 

2. Explain the significance of the death of Christ.

 

3. Write a prayer of gratitude for Christ’s sacrifice.

Lesson Outline

Introduction

A.  Nothing but the Blood of Jesus

B.  Lesson Context

   I. Better Solution (Hebrews 9:11–14)

A.  In Heaven’s Sanctuary (v. 11)

B.  For Eternal Redemption (v. 12)

C.  For Full Cleansing (vv. 13, 14)

II. Better Mediator (Hebrews 9:15–17)

A.  Through Jesus’ Mediation (v. 15)

B.  Through Jesus’ Death (vv. 16, 17)

Where There’s a Will …

III. Necessary Death (Hebrews 9:18–22)

A.  Dedicated in Blood (vv. 18–20)

B.  Remission by Blood (vv. 21, 22)

The Universal Donor

Conclusion

A.  The Power of the Blood of Jesus

B.  Prayer

C.  Thought to Remember

HOW TO SAY IT

Aaronic

 

Air-ahn-ik.

 

Corinthians

 

Ko-rin-thee-unz (th as in thin).

 

Levitical

 

Leh-vit-ih-kul.

 

Leviticus

 

Leh-vit-ih-kus.

 

Messiah

 

Meh-sigh-uh.

 

Mosaic

 

Mo-zay-ik.

 

tabernacle

 

tah-burr-nah-kul.

 

Introduction

A. Nothing but the Blood of Jesus

The simple melody line of Robert Lowry’s gospel song “Nothing but the Blood” uses only a five-note range and two chords. The song’s lyrics likewise are straightforward, punctuated by the simple declaration, “Nothing but the blood of Jesus.” In its simplicity, this song celebrates the majestic theme found within Hebrews 9:11–22: our high priest Jesus Christ has offered His blood to make perfect reconciliation for sinners. By that blood, we enter into God’s new covenant. This concept is unfamiliar to many.

B. Lesson Context

Undergirding today’s study are three concepts that are vitally important in the book of Hebrews. Those three are high priest, covenant, and blood. Their importance is revealed in the fact that, in each case, the book of Hebrews features more uses of those words than any other New Testament book by proportion of size.

A priest is a go-between; another word we could use is mediator. That position in Old Testament times involved interceding with God on behalf of unclean people (see Leviticus 14, 15). The founding of the Old Testament priesthood is recorded in Exodus 28, 29 and Leviticus 8. The high priest is the one “upon whose head the anointing oil was poured” (Leviticus 21:10). The death of the high priest resulted in relief from prosecution in specific instances (Numbers 35:25, 28; Joshua 20:6).

The original word that is translated variously as “covenant” and “testament” occurs 33 times in the New Testament. The book of Hebrews has 17 of those 33 instances, demonstrating its importance. The opening verses of Hebrews 8 pronounce that Jesus has obtained a more excellent ministry than the priestly ministry of the first covenant. In so doing, He has become the mediator of a better covenant—a covenant that is based on better promises (Hebrews 8:1, 2, 6).

When the writer quotes Jeremiah 31:31–34 regarding God’s offer of a new covenant (Hebrews 8:8–12), the implication is that there was a flaw in the old covenant. Any flaw, however, was not on God’s side. Humanity proved unable and/or unwilling to honor the provisions of that covenant (Hebrews 8:7, 8, 13).

The early part of Hebrews 9 then describes the old covenant sanctuary, the tabernacle. This structure and its successor (the temple) provided Israel only limited access to God. Barriers still existed between the worshipper and God (compare Exodus 29:9; Hebrews 9:7, 8). The mention of blood in Hebrews 9:7 prepares the reader for the frequent use of that word throughout our lesson text for today. As with the word translated “covenant” and “testament,” the word translated “blood” occurs more often proportionally in Hebrews than any other New Testament book.

Scripture treats blood as the life force of a creature (Genesis 9:4; Leviticus 17:10–14; Deuteronomy 12:23). The use of blood of sacrificed animals to save Israel is seen explicitly in the blood of lambs smeared on doorposts in Egypt (Exodus 12:7). The mention of blood is connected with violent death (see Genesis 4:10; Matthew 27:4, 24, 25).

Hebrews 9:1–10 describes the worship and sacrificial practices under the old covenant as temporary and inadequate for cleansing worshippers’ sins. In God’s redemptive plan, they merely anticipated “the time of reformation” that would come through the ministry of Christ (9:10). That ministry is tightly connected with the concepts of high priest, covenant, and blood.

I. Better Solution

(Hebrews 9:11–14)

A. In Heaven’s Sanctuary (v. 11)

11a. But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come.

 

The title Christ is the Greek translation of the Hebrew title Messiah (compare John 1:41; 4:25). Both words are transliterations to speakers of English, not translations. A translation would be “Anointed One” (compare the anointing language in Hebrews 1:9).

In the Old Testament, this title can refer to anyone anointed for God’s purposes. This includes priests, kings, prophets, and even the people (examples: Leviticus 4:3, 5, 16; 2 Samuel

1:14, 16; 23:1; Psalm 105:15; Lamentations 4:20). But the writer of Hebrews uses the anointing concept inherent in the title Christ to refer to Jesus exclusively. Jesus fulfills the tasks that all those who had been anointed before Him were meant to accomplish.

To earlier descriptions of Jesus as “a merciful and faithful high priest” (Hebrews 2:17) and as “a great high priest” (4:14), the writer now adds an high priest of good things to come. Those good things are the better promises and better covenant mentioned previously in Hebrews 8:6.

 

What Do You Think?

Should Christ’s function as the new covenant’s high priest be taught as a foundational doctrine, or should teaching on this subject be reserved for “advanced” classes? Why?

 

Digging Deeper

After completing your response, compare and contrast it with the categories in 1 Corinthians 3:1, 2 and Hebrews 5:11–6:3.

 

But the phrase to come introduces a question: Is this from the point of view of someone living before Christ or after? If it’s from a perspective of people living before Christ, then what were future blessings to them—the good things to come—are those blessings that are now present realities to us. On the other hand, if to come is written from the perspective of Christians, then the focus would seem to be on blessings we do not yet experience, but will in the future.

Either way, good things have already happened under the new covenant, and even more good things await us. Our sin-debt has been paid, and Christians have a renewed relationship with God right now. As we serve Him now, we look forward to the day when we receive our eternal inheritance in full (Hebrews 9:14, 15).

 

11b. By a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building.

 

The reference here is that of the heavenly sanctuary that served as the pattern for the old covenant’s tabernacle (Exodus 25:40; 26:30; Hebrews 8:1, 2, 5). The phrase not made with hands emphasizes this sanctuary’s divine origin and celestial location. Because it was not made by humans, it cannot be destroyed (compare Matthew 6:19–21; 2 Corinthians 5:1; see also Acts 7:48; 17:24).

B. For Eternal Redemption (v. 12)

12a. Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place.

 

The writer sharpens the contrast between the old covenant’s Aaronic priesthood (see Exodus 28:1, 41; 29:44; etc.) and the new-covenant priestly work of Christ. God had graciously provided Israel with the sacrificial system as a means to deal with sin. The animal’s life was to be given in exchange for the lives of the worshippers whose sins placed them under the penalty of death (compare Romans 3:23; 6:23).

The sacrificial animals were to be without blemish (Leviticus 4:3, 23, 28, 32; Malachi 1:8). But even if they were, their blood was ultimately inadequate to take away sin (Hebrews 10:1, 4). So, in contrast with the levitical priests who offer the blood of goats and calves, Christ has come into the heavenly holy place with his own blood. His blood is the perfect sacrifice because He was without sin (2 Corinthians 5:21; Hebrews 4:15). He came as the Lamb of God to take away the world’s sins (John 1:29), and He offered himself willingly in that regard (John 10:14–18). The fact that he entered in once into the holy place underscores the total sufficiency of His sacrifice (Hebrews 7:27; 9:28; 10:10).

The writer uses the word blood more than 20 times in this book, but this is only the third instance so far. (The first two are Hebrews 2:14; 9:7). He will have much more to say about blood below.

 

12b. Having obtained eternal redemption for us.

 

This half-verse gives the result of Christ’s work as superior priest and superior sacrifice. The word translated redemption can be used to describe the procedure by which a slave is bought out of bondage and granted freedom (see also Luke 1:68; 2:38; 24:21; Titus 2:14; 1 Peter 1:18, 19; compare Deuteronomy 7:8; Leviticus 25:25–27; etc.).

That the redemption secured by Christ is eternal is significant on two counts. First, redemption is one of six things described as eternal or everlasting in Hebrews. The other five are salvation (Hebrews 5:9), judgment (6:2), God’s Spirit (9:14, below), inheritance (9:15, below), and covenant (13:20; same Greek word translated “everlasting”). The word redemption is in some powerful company indeed!

Second, and closely related, is the fact that the word eternal connotes a permanence associated with Heaven (Psalm 119:89, 90; 2 Corinthians 5:1) in contrast with the temporary nature of those things associated with the old covenant.

 

What Do You Think?

What steps can you take to allow the facts in Hebrews 9:12 to help you in future struggles against temptation?

 

Digging Deeper

Consider Matthew 5:48; Romans 6:1, 2, 12, 13; 8:12, 13; 10:9–11; Ephesians 4:22–24; Philippians 2:12; James 2:14–17; 1 Peter 1:15, 16; and 1 John 3:3 as you ponder the division of duties between you, Christ, and the Holy Spirit in this regard.

 

C. For Full Cleansing (vv. 13, 14)

13, 14. For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

The thrust of these verses is made in an argument from lesser to greater. This harkens back to a purification ritual described in Numbers 19:1–10, 17–19. People could become unclean by touching dead bodies or coming into contact with things considered unclean under the Mosaic law (Leviticus 11–15; notice that being unclean is not necessarily the same as committing sin). Those in such an unclean state would profane objects with which they came in contact.

For that reason, unclean people were disqualified from participating in tabernacle or temple worship lest they profane the sanctuary. Nevertheless, the law provided sanctification rituals whereby persons could be ritually purified. If the blood of animals could provide external, ritual cleaning, then think of how much more effective is the cleansing provided by Christ’s blood!

The cleansing Christ provides is greater than any other purification for three reasons. First, it came about through the eternal Spirit, by whom He offered himself. Matthew 4:1; 12:28; Luke 4:1; and Acts 1:2 each portray the Holy Spirit’s empowering Jesus for ministry. Second, He was without spot, the importance of which is discussed in our commentary above. Third, He offered himself voluntarily to God (see Hebrews 9:26–28 and comments above). A theory from years ago is that Jesus paid the ransom (Mark 10:45) to Satan, but that’s not true.

Whereas the Old Testament sacrifice would sanctify to the purifying of the flesh, the blood of Christ purges one’s conscience … to serve the living God. A proper conscience is aware of the sins that separate a person from the Lord. This is the second of five instances of the writer using the word conscience. To get a better sense of the intent, compare the usage here with that of the other four: Hebrews 9:9; 10:2, 22; 13:18.

The blood of Christ is qualitatively superior to the blood of bulls and goats. Therefore, the cleansing it has effected is also qualitatively superior. The old covenant dealt with an external problem of humankind and could not cleanse the interior. But Christ has brought the sacrificial system to its fulfillment, having dealt with the whole person as he or she stands before God. “Having obtained eternal redemption” (Hebrews 9:12, above) and having had his or her conscience purged, the believer is now free to serve the living God.

 

What Do You Think?

Given what Christ has done with regard to our “dead works,” how will that realization affect your conduct tomorrow?

 

Digging Deeper

Do Romans 6:1–4 and/or Hebrews 6:1–3 change your response? Why, or why not?

 

II. Better Mediator

(Hebrews 9:15–17)

A. Through Jesus’ Mediation (v. 15)

15. And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.

 

A mediator is one who intervenes between conflicting parties to remove the disagreement. In His death Christ dealt decisively with the sins to which the old covenant law had called attention. This being so, they which are called—that is, believers in Christ—may receive the promise of eternal inheritance.

The expression they which are called reminds readers of the author’s designation of them as “partakers of the heavenly calling” (Hebrews 3:1). Whereas possession of the land of Canaan was Israel’s inheritance under the old covenant (Leviticus 20:24; Numbers 26:52–56), those called into the new covenant now have the promise of entering into eternal fellowship with God (Hebrews 4:1–11). What an inheritance!

 

What Do You Think?

How should a person’s perspective on life change when realizing that he or she has entered into a covenant, or contract, with the God of the universe?

 

Digging Deeper

How would, should, and/or could this perspective be driven by the fact that God has established all the terms of the covenant, or contract, and for us, it’s either take it or leave it?

 

B. Through Jesus’ Death (vv. 16, 17)

16, 17. For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. For a testament is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth.

 

It’s easy to get confused at this point, because the Greek word rightly translated “covenant”/‌“testament” is the same word those native speakers use for a will. Think of someone’s “last will and testament.” Things were the same back in the first century as they are today: a will is of no strength at all while the testator liveth. A will may be valid while the maker of the will lives, but the will is not operative, effective, or functional until its maker dies.

So also Christ had to die in order for the new covenant to be put into effect. The Israelites had pledged their obedience to the first covenant (Exodus 19:8; 24:7), and the penalty for breaking the covenant was death (Jeremiah 34:18–20). Under the old covenant, the blood of bulls and goats was offered in place of the death the Israelites deserved. Now, in offering His righteous blood, Christ has suffered the death penalty that rightly is ours.

Where There’s a Will …

History tells some surprising stories from the wills of the rich and famous. Napoleon Bonaparte’s will stipulated that his head be shaved and the hair be divided among his inheritors. Clara Mae Ruth, widow of baseball great Babe Ruth, was left all his property, excepting only “souvenirs, mementoes, pictures, scrap-books, manuscripts, letters, athletic equipment, and other personal property pertaining to baseball.” Finnish businessman Onni Nurmi’s 780 shares of a rubber boot company didn’t seem like much at first to residents of the nursing home who received them. But that company became cell phone giant Nokia, making all the heirs millionaires!

A person’s share of the estate of these famous individuals varied in worth. But the wealth left by the mediator of the new covenant is of unimaginable value. Of all the inheritances real and imagined, which do you most desire to receive? Why?

—J. E.

III. Necessary Death

(Hebrews 9:18–22)

A. Dedicated in Blood (vv. 18–20)

18, 19. Whereupon neither the first testament was dedicated without blood. For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and of goats, with water, and scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book, and all the people.

 

Having linked Christ’s death with the activation of the new covenant, the author returns to the role that blood played in establishing the first one. He finds proof in Exodus 24:3–8. The ceremony depicted there describes the act by which Moses consecrated the people to bring them under the old covenant. With Hebrews 9:7–14, 23–25 echoing the Day of Atonement (see Leviticus 16) to help explain Christ’s work, the allusion here—the ratification of the Mosaic covenant—offers another precedent for doing so. Moses had sprinkled both the book of the covenant and all Israelite people with the blood in order to consecrate them as God’s holy nation. Now it is Christ’s blood that sets apart His followers.

 

20. Saying, This is the blood of the testament which God hath enjoined unto you.

 

The writer’s noting of Moses’ words here recalls what Jesus said as He instituted the Lord’s Supper: “This is my blood of the new testament” (Matthew 26:28; Mark 14:24; compare Luke 22:20). That connection is all the more powerful given the original audience’s familiarity with Jesus’ words during the last supper. The original readers have recited these words numerous times during their own communion observances.

B. Remission by Blood (vv. 21, 22)

21, 22. Moreover he sprinkled with blood both the tabernacle, and all the vessels of the ministry. And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.

 

After the events of Exodus 24 to which Hebrews 9:19 alludes, Moses did indeed anoint with oil the tabernacle and its vessels (Exodus 40:9). But Scripture makes no direct statement that Moses sprinkled blood on them during their dedication. Nevertheless, one may assume that he did so, since those things were to be consecrated (40:9; compare 24:6), and consecration of the priests had involved both oil and blood (29:21).

The recounting of this act of consecration constitutes the first half of “lesser to greater” argument, of which Hebrews 9:23–28 (not in today’s text) comprises the second part. This argument essentially repeats and expands upon the content of Hebrews 9:12–14.

 

What Do You Think?

Which will be more important in demonstrating the cleansing power of Christ’s blood: our ability to explain the gospel or our example of living as empowered people? Why?

 

Digging Deeper

Compare and contrast Romans 10:17; 1 Corinthians 9:19–22; 1 Timothy 3:7; 1 Peter 3:1, 2, 15.

 

The Universal Donor

The first half of the twentieth century witnessed great strides in the medical use of blood. A pioneer in that regard was Dr. Bernard Fantus, an immigrant Hungarian. He became curious about how the blood of one could be donated to save the life of another.

His studies yielded practical application when he established the world’s first blood bank in 1937. Soon blood banks were everywhere. This made surgery more accessible—and saved lives.

But in a more important sense, God beat him to it over 3,000 years before when He declared that “the life of all flesh is the blood thereof” (Leviticus 17:14). This was profoundly realized when the lifeblood of Jesus was substituted for the lives of sinners. That “transfusion” brought those dead in sin back to life. In what specific way will you witness this fact to others this week?

—J. E.

Conclusion

A. The Power of the Blood of Jesus

Under the old covenant, almost all things were purged by use of blood. But the new covenant features a deeper, further reaching, once-for-all cleansing through the blood of Christ. The blood of bulls and goats could never fully atone for past, present, and future sin. Ultimate salvation required the lifeblood of the Son of God.

Visual for Lessons 2 & 3. Ask your learners to rate this visual on a scale from 1 (“means nothing to me”) to 10 (“really convicts me”). Discuss.

An incident centuries ago caused someone to notice that certain people were sinning against the Lord, in that they were eating meat with the blood still in it (1 Samuel 14:33). But in a figurative sense, Jesus invites us to do just that! The invitation came when He said, “This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me” (1 Corinthians 11:25).

We do just that when we gather around the Lord’s table. Through Christ’s sacrifice, we have entered into a new covenant relationship with God. We have been given full access to the Father through Christ. Hallelujah, what a Savior!

B. Prayer

Our Father, we are both saddened and grateful for Your Son’s death on the cross. Saddened because it was our sins that put Him there, but grateful that He was willing to suffer in our place. Empower us to serve Him, our high priest, faithfully. We pray this in His name. Amen.

C. Thought to Remember

Christ’s perfect sacrifice gives us access to God in the new covenant.[1]

June 23

Lesson 4 (KJV)

Hearts United in Love

Devotional Reading: 1 Corinthians 3:10–17

Background Scripture: Colossians 2:1–15

Colossians 2:1–15

1. For I would that ye knew what great conflict I have for you, and for them at Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh;

 

2. That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ;

 

3. In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

 

4. And this I say, lest any man should beguile you with enticing words.

 

5. For though I be absent in the flesh, yet am I with you in the spirit, joying and beholding your order, and the stedfastness of your faith in Christ.

 

6. As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him:

 

7. Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.

 

8. Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.

 

9. For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.

 

10. And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power:

 

11. In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ:

 

12. Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.

 

13. And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses;

 

14. Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;

 

15. And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.

Key Verses

As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.—Colossians 2:6, 7

Lesson Aims

After participating in this lesson, each learner will be able to:

 

1. List three things that believers have in Christ.

 

2. Compare and contrast the meaning and significance of circumcision and baptism.

 

3. Identify one area to grow or mature in his or her walk with Christ and make a plan to do so.

Lesson Outline

Introduction

A.  Pursuit of Completeness

B.  Lesson Context

   I. Love’s Concern (Colossians 2:1–5)

A.  Paul’s Intensity (v. 1)

B.  Paul’s Purpose (vv. 2, 3)

Buried Treasure

C.  Paul’s Presence (vv. 4, 5)

II. Love’s Growth (Colossians 2:6, 7)

A.  Walking in Christ (v. 6)

B.  Strengthened in Christ (v. 7)

III. Love’s Object (Colossians 2:8–12)

A.  Reject Thoughts (v. 8)

Power of Truth

B.  Embrace Fullness (vv. 9, 10)

C.  Accept Cleansing (v. 11)

D.  Rise to Full Life (v. 12)

IV. Love’s Triumph (Colossians 2:13–15)

A.  Christ Conquers Sin (v. 13)

B.  Christ Fulfills the Law (v. 14)

C.  Christ Gives the Victory (v. 15)

Conclusion

A.  Possession of Completeness

B.  Prayer

C.  Thought to Remember[2]

 

"Suggestions for families are taken from Standardlesson.com,

Standard Publishing Group, LLC. Used with permission. More resources for families are available at Standardpub.com.


God Bless