Hebrews 10:1-18                     “Making Jesus Sacred”


            This last Monday I was swimming down at Salt Pond. I like to look at the fish through my goggles. There is one fish that no matter how clear the water or how the sun is hitting it, I never see until noting the its shadow first. I see the shadow of the fish on the sandy bottom, then I have to look really hard for that same kind of movement in the water above. This is the beloved Hawaiian Nu-Nu, also known as a Trumpet Fish. Its body is so well camouflaged with the ocean floor and the general murkiness of the water that it is almost invisible. But, its shadow always gives it away!

            In our Scripture for this morning, the writer of Hebrews starts by mentioning shadows. If you remember last week, the discussion was about “sketchy” worship. You can see that in Hebrews 9:23 if you have your Bibles open. Now we have gone from “sketchy” to “shadowy.” Like seeing the Nu-Nu fish shadow in the water, you begin to wonder where the actual fish is!

            When we talk about shadows, then naturally we have to talk about where the light is! One cannot have a shadow without a light. Jesus is the light.

            This last Wednesday I came back to the office after lunch to discover two high school students in the restroom alcove. How to put this gently to the general public? They were in a “compromising position.” They quickly adjusted themselves and their clothes when I said “aloha.” “Ummm, we were just talking,” said the girl. “Why not talk out here in the light of day under the lanai?” I suggested. “This is a church after all.” They waited for me to turn away and disappeared.

            So, guess what? There will always be people who seek out the shadows! Even in a church you may find bodies lurking in dark places! Know that we are Christians who very much rather seek out the light. John 8:12, Jesus himself claims, “I am the light of the world.”

            The talk of shadows in this part of the Letter to the Hebrews does also remind us of Plato’s Cave. Somewhere around 400 years before the Christian Era, the Greek philosopher Plato in his book The Republic came up with an analogy for all of what we call “reality.” Plato noted that we might be like people in a cave in front of a fire watching the shadows on the wall thinking that that is the sum of our reality. We have to leave the cave and get out into the light of day to know what is in fact our reality in this world.

            I think about today’s internet and online social media and see that as an equivalent to Plato’s “shadows on a cave’s wall.” This last week the online platform Facebook went down for some hours. It was eye-opening as people’s reality seemed to crumble. Yes, we use Facebook as a communication tool in the church, but it is not our reality! All of the internet could go down. The power could go off. We are still the church following the one and only true light of Jesus Christ.


            The rest of our scripture goes on to talk about that true reality of who Jesus is and who we are in this world. I know that it seems to be talking about sacrifice here. In the old days people sacrificed animals—but no more. That was our shadowy past! Now, as we read this sincerely we see that Jesus was the only sacrifice that is needed in order for us to be made holy ourselves!

            Before I go on, by the way, the term “sacrifice” simply means “to make holy.” “Sacre” means holy, and “fice” in Latin is “to make.” Even though we get caught up with the idea of burnt offerings as noted in the Hebrew Scriptures and all, the real issue is how see Jesus as having been made holy for our redemption, and how we ourselves are to be made holy through Jesus Christ now.

            I want to point out as well that in the Old Testament offering an animal on a golden altar was not ever given as a Commandment. Think about those Ten Commandments that are brought down off of Mount Sinai after having been inscribed by God’s own finger. Which one says that we are to murder an innocent beast for God? Indeed, one could make the argument that the Ten Commandments, the Law of Moses, already is against offering animals as it states in the 6th Commandment “Thou shalt not kill.”

            Yet, the Ten Commandments are found in Exodus 20:1-21. In the very next verse, we hear the Lord giving instructions about how to offer animal sacrifices. The altar must be made of unhewn stone and have no image upon it, etc. It is almost as if God is saying, “Well, if you do have to offer up an animal, do it simply, and do not forget to eat all of it.” If you are going to slaughter an animal for food, remember to thank God for that life that you are taking. Make it a blessing unto the Lord. That is the whole idea behind “kosher” food. It has been blessed. Just do not think, please, that you have in anyway made yourself holier by doing this. You have rightly made the life that was in the animal holy, but that does not reflect on you.


            So, the question remains as to how we make our own lives holy? How do we become that “sacre” “fice”? Okay, we understand that it is not through the killing of animals on an altar. Well, Jesus, being the forerunner of our faith (Hebrews 6 again) made His life holy by giving it up to God.

            Look at verses 7 and 9 (the idea is even repeated twice) “I have come to do your will, O God.” These are Jesus’ own words being reported as direct speech. Then, look at verse 10! “It is by God’s Will that we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ, once and for all.”  These both echo the prayers of Jesus in the Garden Gethsemane right before his betrayal and crucifixion. Luke 22:42, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup away from me; yet not my will but yours be done.” Then, an angel appears and gives him strength to meet the hour of his sacrifice (being made holy).

            Do you want to be holy? Ask God that God fulfill His Will in your life right now! Turn your will over to God.

            You know, being married to a teacher, I get to hear quite a lot about the struggle of trying to motivate the children to learn even the basics of reading, writing, and ‘rithmatic. I have come to believe that we are in our nature as human beings, and from a very young age, very willfully non-respondent to doing anything that is perhaps against our own will. There be simply no way to convince a child to indent the first line of a paragraph if they feel that it is not necessary! 

            I just want to add to this something that many of you may not know about the internet. The coding for webpages has no “indent” or “tab’ command. To indent a paragraph on a webpage means creating a linking style sheet, called a .css (cascading style sheet), that then physically moves the first letter over as to how many exact pixels are indicated in the style sheet. In other words, it is a real pain to indent anything on the internet. It is not impossible, but apparently the people who came up with the internet share the same understandings as a room full of second graders! At least when it comes to indenting.

            However, if you have ever coded a webpage for yourself, you will know that the actual code on the webpage will be heavily indented so that the person who is writing the code will not lose track of the various pieces of code needed to create the webpage. It is absolutely necessary for the person writing html code to indent, yet what they produce as a webpage will never have standard indentations!  I turn this over to the Will of God! Lord, you tell me what I should do about this! The children are looking at English online that is very rarely going to have paragraphs with indenting. Yet, if they ever are going do any coding for the web, they better well get used to the idea of indenting!


            Verses 16-18 then is who God actually will make us holy. This is really exciting stuff. “I will put my laws in their hearts. I will write them on their minds. I will remember their sins no more.” Those again are the exact reported words of Jesus Christ.

            The last verse then is the key: We turn our wills over to God; God changes our hearts and minds; God forgives us by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. No need for sin offerings if our hearts and minds belong to God because we have turned our wills over to follow Jesus Christ. That is what makes us holy in the end. How would Jesus show love and compassion in each of our lives’ situations?

            The last line says that forgiveness is the key actually to being made holy. Do read that? When we lead lives of forgiveness, knowing that God has forgiven us, so we must also forgive others. This is the Lord’s Prayer in fact. If we should be sanctified, then that the starting point. How can that be which is un-forgiven be holy?

            Matthew 5:23-24, Jesus states “When you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother and then come offer your gift.” This is the true offering that God wants. This is God’s Will that we must accept that we too should be made holy in this world.