Keys to the Kingdom
I’ve blazed an easy-to-follow trail from California to Missouri to Kansas for the past 64 years. On my last birthday, I was required to renew my driver’s license. I understand the need for rules, regulations, stipulations, and statutes, but jumping through all those flaming hoops nearly caught my clothes on fire! I presented my California birth certificate, Missouri marriage license, Kansas driver’s license, social security card, and homeowner’s insurance bill as required. Several days later, I was pleased to receive my new driver’s license with a gold star in the upper right-hand corner. I had to go through a lot of red tape to prove I was who I’ve always been. What’s funny is that the day I renewed my license I had a really good hair day, so my photo doesn’t even look like me!
Before Jesus came, God instituted a strict religious system of laws and statutes for burnt offerings, grain offerings, food and drink offerings, peace offerings, sin offerings, guilt offerings, etc. “Under the Old Covenant, the priest stands and ministers before the altar day after day, offering the same sacrifices again and again, which can never take away sins” (Hebrews 10:11 NLT). The old sacrificial system that was implemented in Leviticus ended the moment Jesus fulfilled all the requirements of the law for sin offerings.
As a contemporary Christ follower, I’m truly thankful to be living under the new and better covenant. “Then He said, ’Look, I have come to do Your will.’ He cancels the first covenant in order to put the second into effect. For God’s will was for us to be made holy by the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ, once for all time. …our High Priest offered Himself to God as a single sacrifice for sins, good for all time. Then He sat down in the place of honor at God’s right hand” (Hebrews 10:9,10,12 NLT). All the arduous red tape with offering animal sacrifices was abolished and replaced with the one perfect sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Once and for all, the shedding of Jesus’ blood marvelously redeemed us to live completely free in Christ. Hymnist Elisha A. Hoffman asks the question, “Are you washed in the blood, in the soul-cleansing blood of the Lamb? Are your garments spotless? Are they white as snow? Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?”
When Jesus gave up His spirit on the cross, something miraculous happened in the Temple. “At that moment the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom“ (Matthew 27:51 NLT). God’s plan of salvation under the new covenant was literally made visible when the curtain split open. Direct access to God was made possible only through the death and resurrection of Jesus. The requirement to jump through the hoops of sacrificial sin offerings was declared null and void.
How should we live in proper response to God’s loving mercy and Jesus’ supreme sacrifice? In Romans Chapter 12, Paul encourages believers to surrender ourselves to God and be His sacred living sacrifices. He admonishes us to live in holiness and stop imitating the ways and opinions of the culture around us. Consecrating our lives in total commitment to God should be our heart’s desire. “For God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body” (1 Corinthians 6:20 NLT).
The Key: Thanks to Jesus, believers can let out a victory whoop instead of jumping through hoops.