Daily Thoughts from Hebrews: Love Divine

Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant. For where a will is involved, the death of the one who made it must be established. For a will takes effect only at death, since it is not in force as long as the one who made it is alive. Therefore not even the first covenant was inaugurated without blood. For when every commandment of the law had been declared by Moses to all the people, he took the blood of calves and goats, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, saying, “This is the blood of the covenant that God commanded for you.” And in the same way he sprinkled with the blood both the tent and all the vessels used in worship. Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins. (Hebrews 9:15-22, ESV)

Having shown the insufficiency of the first covenant and its regulations and that Jesus fulfills what they foreshadowed, the author of Hebrews concludes that Jesus is the mediator of a new covenant.  He is the go-between, the one who stands between us and God to arrange this covenant.  It was angels and Moses for the old covenant who acted as mediators, but our author has already shown Jesus’ superiority to them.

The word “covenant” in Greek can also refer to a last testament and will, which is only finally ratified by the death of the testator, the one who drew up the will.  This was not the kind of covenant Yahweh made with Israel, but by way of illustration, what Jesus did satisfies this form of covenant also.  He is the mediator and the testator of this new covenant and his death ratified it.  This is just another example of how almost everything under the old covenant was purified by blood so that our author could well summarize that “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.”

For this congregation that is considering whether they should abandon Christianity for their former Judaism, our author is driving home the fact that Jesus in every way demonstrates the superiority of the new covenant he has already instituted by his death.  His mediatorship does not run counter to, but is in complete agreement with, the old covenant processes.  Only, his blood is the blood that brings forgiveness.

Just as Yahweh came looking for Adam and Eve in the garden, came after them when they sinned, instead of rejecting and abandoning them, Jesus’ great love for us moved him to come after us.  He made us the beneficiaries in his last will and testament, bequeathing to us the promised eternal inheritance his sacrifice made possible.

MY LORD, my Love, is crucified: Is crucified for me and you.  To bring us rebels near to God; Believe, believe the record true, Ye all are bought with Jesus’ blood; Pardon for all flows from his side: My Lord, my Love, is crucified.

Charles Wesley, from O Love Divine, What Hast Thou Done


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