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Christ's Body Was The Real Sacrifice

Hebrews 10:5-7
Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said: 'Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me; with burnt offerings and sin offerings you were not pleased. Then I said, "Here I am – it is written about me in the scroll – I have come to do your will, my God."' (NIVUK)

It may seem strange to read this quote from Psalm 40:6-8, in which God said that He did not want sacrifices and offerings. Surely, that was the basis of the law, which God gave through Moses, and commanded them to observe. And that law was fully in operation when David penned those words by the Holy Spirit's inspiration. What does it mean, especially as Hebrews attributes the words to Christ as He came into the world? The question deepens when we realise that Psalm 40:6 means, "… but my ears you have pierced", although Hebrews says, "… a body You prepared for me".

There is no conflict when we realise that this Psalm's passage is inserted after the statement about the law being the shadow of what was to come and not the reality (Hebrews 10:1-4). Although God commanded the people to keep the law as a way of leading them to Christ (Galatians 3:24-25), He knew the animal sacrifices were only temporary shadows of the reality which is found in Christ (Colossians 2:17). The Father's desire and hope for the future of His people was not in religious rules and rituals, but in the Saviour Jesus Christ.

In Exodus 21:2-11, a servant who did not want freedom, but was committed to remain his master's slave, would have a hole bored in his ear. The ear piercing did not affect his ability to work but marked him out to everybody. It was a sign that the slave voluntarily submitted himself to serve his master for ever. In the same way, Jesus submitted to His Father's will. His piercing was not cosmetic but as deadly as any animal sacrifice (Isaiah 53:5). He was God's sacrifice for our sins. But in heaven He had no body and could not be wounded or die. So God the Father prepared a body for Him. That is what Father God desired; it pleased Him (Isaiah 53:10).

It is easy to get caught up with physical symbols and mystical shadows in religion, treating them as though they are the reality. They are not. But the reality is the historical Jesus who makes His home in our hearts as we believe the Gospel, repent, receive Him by faith and live like Him – whatever the cost. Paul wrote: "I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death" (Philippians 3:10). To be a disciple of the real Jesus, is to leave religious shadows behind and trust the One who died for You. Then be willing for the body God prepared for you, to be used as He chooses for His glory.

Father God. Thank You for preparing a body in which the Lord Jesus could be wounded and die. Forgive me for sometimes being caught up with religious symbols and forgetting that Jesus was a real man in a real body, and He died for me. Help me to value what He has done so that I will be willing to identify with the weakness of Christ for His glory. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams