Lent 2009 (36) – Knowing forgiveness

For this reason he had to be made like his brothers and sisters in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted… he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself. Hebrews 2:17-18; 9:26b

Hebrews is full of Temple-talk. The priest was the go-between between people and God, the sacrifice was offered by the priest to God for the sins of the people, atonement was what that offering achieved – forgiveness. Jesus is all those things: the best high priest ever, the most effective sacrifice ever, and providing a permanent means of forgiveness so that temple sacrifice is never needed to be made again.

Jesus’ chief qualification for this is that he knows us and sympathises with us. A person who is blessed with a pain-free life sometimes finds it difficult to understand someone who experiences much pain. A person who learns easily is sometimes impatient with the slow-learner. But because Jesus has lived the human life he knows and understands us, even experiencing temptation – he is the perfect “go-between”.

So, there is in place the means of forgiveness for our sins – when we come to God in confession we know we are forgiven. St. John put it like this: “…if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defence – Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins…” (1 John 2:1-2).

The cross – was it worth it? Yes – because of it we know we can be forgiven – always!

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