By Stuart Powell
Many people see wooden fences as a nice accent in a rustic setting. Ranchers may use them to contain their livestock. But there is a problem with wooden fences: they are temporary. Rot-resistant wood can be selected and treated with all sorts of chemical preservatives but, in the end, the rails will begin to break and the posts will start to lean. If the fence is not maintained, it is only a matter of time before it falls to the ground in uselessness and decay. It’s the same way with every work that mankind attempts. Our work is always temporary. Nothing we create will stand by itself for long.
In contrast, as the writer of Hebrews noted, there is nothing temporary in Jesus’ sacrifice:
By his will we have been made holy through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. And every priest stands day after day serving and offering the same sacrifices again and again—sacrifices that can never take away sins. But when this priest had offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, he sat down at the right hand of God, where he is now waiting until his enemies are made a footstool for his feet. For by one offering he has perfected for all time those who are made holy (Hebrews 10:10-14, New English Translation).
Under the Mosaic Law, priests made sacrifices that were something like wooden fences. Each sacrifice for sin was limited in scope and impact. Those sacrifices did not provide a permanent solution for the sins throughout human history.
In contrast, Jesus’ sacrifice offered once-for-all sin cleansing by his grace. It was a single sacrifice that never needed to be repeated. And these emblems, the bread and the cup, though they too are perishable, are reminders of the boundless forgiveness, for all time, available through Jesus’ body and blood, his sacrifice on the cross. Jesus’ sacrifice covers and cleanses every person who accepts it. These emblems are the memorials of his once-for-all eternal love.
Stuart Powell lives outside of Terre Haute, Indiana, where he serves with the North Side Christian Church.