Did you ever consider how the blood of Christ shed on the Cross at Calvary is still effective in washing away our sins? It is effective due to the fact the blood that cleanses us is resurrected blood! I’m now going to take you on a little Bible study, so if that’s not your cup of tea, you can move over to Pintrest or ESPN….
In 1 John we read, “This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.” (4:10). John is pointing us to the value of the death of Christ and the great work that God accomplished for sinners on the cross so that we might become members of God’s family.
The word “sacrifice” in this passage takes us to Leviticus 16 where Israel’s annual rituals that foreshadowed Christ’s sacrifice, and Moses gave instructions to Israel about the Day of Atonement. That day begins by recognizing that we are separated from God and we cannot approach God on own. God reveals His presence to Israel between the cherubim above the Mercy Seat on the Ark of the Covenant, but not even Aaron the high priest can approach God on his own merit or even as the high priest, because all men are sinners and God is holy. God instructed the high priest to kill a goat, whose blood God accepted as providing access to God’s presence, and Aaron placed that blood on the Mercy Seat.
Now let’s move over to the book of Hebrews for further insight. In chapter nine we read that God is still unapproachable, but that Jesus offered His blood as a sacrifice. Heb. 9:11 says, “He entered that greater, more perfect Tabernacle in heaven, which was not made by human hands and is not part of this world.” Just as Aaron the high priest entered into the Tabernacle with blood, Jesus our new High Priest does the same. Verse 12 says, “With his own blood—not the blood of goats and calves—he entered the Most Holy Place once for all time and secured our redemption forever.”
Now, if the blood of bulls and goats could enable Aaron to approach God and stand in front of the Ark of the Covenant, the author of Hebrews goes on in verse 14, “Just think how much more the blood of Christ will purify our consciences from sinful deeds so that we can worship the living God.” So Jesus entered the Tabernacle in Heaven, presented His own blood and secured our redemption forever, cleansing not just our spirit from the evil effect of sin, but also our consciences, freeing us from the guilt and condemnation of our past.
Now, I want to take us one step further. I want you to imagine a Tabernacle in Heaven. It doesn’t matter what it looks like; just think of the most holy place in heaven. This is the place the book of Hebrews just told us Jesus went to with His own blood. Here’s what I want you to consider: When did Jesus enter into this heavenly Tabernacle? We know it was after His death, but exactly when did He do this? I ask because the answer is important to our faith in His blood being able to wash away our sins. There are two clues to when Jesus entered the Tabernacle in heaven, and both are found in John 20.
After His resurrection, Jesus appeared to Mary, who thought He was the gardener – until He said her name! (There may be 10 million people in heaven with your name when you get there, but I guarantee when Jesus says your name, you’ll know He is talking to you!) Then Jesus says, “Don’t cling to me, for I haven’t yet ascended to the Father. But go find my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God’” (John 20:17). Jesus didn’t want Mary holding touching Him or holding on to Him because He hadn’t yet seen the Father.
Later in this same chapter Jesus reappears to the disciples, who were cowering behind locked doors, but Thomas was not there. The others tell them that Jesus came to see them and doubting Thomas says, “I won’t believe it unless I see nail wounds in his hands, put my fingers into them, and place my hand into the wound in his side.” (John 20:25). Eight days later Jesus reappears and says to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and look at my hands. Put your hand into the wound in my side. Don’t be faithless any longer. Believe!” (John 20:27). (Mary believed without touching, while Thomas had to touch in order to believe. The point isn’t how you come to believe, but that you DO believe!).
Okay, here are the clues to when Jesus entered into the Tabernacle in heaven. Jesus said to Mary, “Don’t touch me,” but to Thomas Jesus said, “Touch my hands and my side.” Before I really started studying Scripture, I just assumed that after Jesus died He spent some time explaining what He had done to the spirits of the other world, as Eph. 4:7-10 and 1 Peter 3:19 seem to indicate, and then waited out the three days in Heaven. But Jesus told Mary He hadn’t yet ascended to see the Father. Therefore, it was after the resurrection but before He encountered Thomas that Jesus entered into the true Tabernacle in heaven and presented His blood. This means that the blood in heaven is resurrected blood – blood that is powerful enough to overcome all sin and death. The blood that Jesus presented in Heaven has the power to resurrect all of us, for it is fresh and flowing and eternally powerful. Are you grasping the perfection of God’s plan of salvation? Do you see that Jesus didn’t just die, but was also resurrected to present His blood in the Tabernacle in Heaven so that we may all, through the faith in that blood, also have access in the holy presence of God?
Jesus Christ is the One who satisfies God, and the blood of Christ is the basis of that satisfaction, just as the blood of bulls and goats satisfied God in the Old Testament. Now God can stretch out His hand to sinners and invite them into His presence. Furthermore, we must understand that the death of Jesus didn’t change the heart of God, as if God once hated us and now He loves us because of the death of His Son. Instead, the death of Jesus opened the way for the love of God to be poured out and manifested to sinners. The love of God preceded the sacrifice of Jesus; it didn’t follow it. It was only through the sacrifice of Jesus that the full extent of God’s love could be shown to the world. This is how we understand that it is the nature of God to love, and it is the compass of God’s love that directs all our ways.