The Triumphant Shame of the Cross

[Christ did not] offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the holy places every year with blood not his own, for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. (Hebrews 9:25–26)

It is not to be taken for granted that there should be a welcome for sinners in heaven.

God is holy and pure and perfectly just and righteous. Yet the whole story of the Bible is how such a great and holy God can and does welcome dirty, unholy people like you and me into his favor. How can this be?

Hebrews 9:25 says that Christ’s sacrifice for sin was not like the sacrifices of the Jewish high priests. They came into the holy place yearly with animal sacrifices to atone for the sins of the people. But these verses say Christ did not enter heaven to “offer himself repeatedly . . . for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world” (Hebrews 9:26).

If Christ followed the pattern of the priests, then he would have to die yearly. And since the sins to be covered include the sins of Adam and Eve, he would have had to begin his yearly dying at the foundation of the world. But the writer treats this as unthinkable.

Why is this unthinkable? Because it would make the death of the Son of God look weak and ineffective. If it has to be repeated year after year for centuries, where would be the triumph? Where would we see the infinite value of the sacrifice of the Son of God? It would vanish in the shamefulness of a yearly suffering and death.

There was shame in the cross, but it was triumphant shame. “[Jesus despised] the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2).

This is the gospel of the glory of Christ, the image of God (2 Corinthians 4:4). I pray that no matter how dirty or unholy with sin you are, you will see the light of this glory and believe.