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"Boldly Going where No Sinner has Gone Before"

Good Friday Mar.25/16 Heb.10:16-25


As a young pre-teen in the late 1960s, the opening lines of the Star Trek episodes in William Shatner's resonant voice held a certain fascination for me: "Space, the final frontier.These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise.Its 5-year mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before." (Sorry gals, we still talked like that back then!)

It's that last phrase I'd like to focus on today. Good Friday is about going boldly where no SINNER has gone before. It's all been made possible, not by some sleek starship with expert crew and special powers ("Beam me up, Scotty!"), but by a loving Saviour, the unique Son of God, who gave His life so I could be with Him and live for eternity.


Good Friday is "good" because God rescued us from the eternity in hell our rebellion, guilt, and sins against His infinite holiness deserved. Hebrews 10:17 talks about our "sins and lawless acts", v22 "having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water." We've all sinned at some point or other and turned away from the one perfect glorious God (Rom 3:23). So in the Old Testament, the gap between us sinners and God was emphasized.

When the Israelites gathered at Mount Sinai where Moses received the Ten Commandments from God, they were ordered to put limits around the mountain to prevent anyone going up; whoever touched the mountain was to be put to death (Ex 19:12). When Moses begged to be shown God's glory in Exodus 33(18ff), God put him in a cleft of the rock and covered him with His hand until He had passed by, for the Lord explained, "no one may see me and live". When the Tabernacle was built and later the Temple, there were many barriers: the Court of the Gentiles, the Court of the Women, Court of the Israelites, the sanctuary where only priests and Levites could go; just one person, the High Priest, once a year on the Day of Atonement was allowed to enter the Most Holy Place. Everything was designed to keep people away lest they perish from God's mighty holy power. "No sinners allowed!"

But Hebrews 10:19 explains we can now "enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, His body..." When Jesus died on the cross, the great curtain at the Temple that protected entry to the Most Holy Place (Mt 27:51) "was torn in two from top to bottom". This symbolized that sinners could now be effectively cleansed, purified, made acceptable to come to God! How? "By the blood of Jesus" - His death on the cross. His body, flogged painfully til His skin likely peeled in shreds off his back and (as commonly occurred) the abdominal wall was torn open, became a "curtain" through which we may pass, "a new and living way opened for us". Isaiah 53:5 "But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed." He hurt for our healing.


The author of the letter to the Hebrews emphasizes we're now free to enter, not timidly or fearfully, but BOLDLY. V19 "Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus..." V22 "let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith..." V23 "Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess..." Note how those words contrast with timidness: confidence / full assurance / unswervingly. Echoing Heb 4:16 "Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need."

Let's suppose someone gives you a Tim Horton's gift card. When you approach the server at the store, do you hem and haw because you're not sure they'll honour the gift card? Of course not! You step forward confidently when your turn comes to order your goodies. Why? Because you KNOW someone has already PAID for the value the card is worth. You can have total assurance your order will succeed, because the transaction has already occurred. Good Friday is Jesus "buying your meal" in advance! You just need to trust Him, put your faith in Him, take Him up on His offer - and it's good for all eternity.


The tenses of the verbs in Hebrews 10:20-25 suggest something about the scope of Jesus' saving of us through time - past, present, and future, that provides the foundation for our confidence. V20 "a new and living way OPENED for us" - that's PAST tense, the act in history at Golgotha some 2000 years ago. Historical scholars generally concede that Jesus died and was crucified (though non-believers might argue about the reasons or results). Christianity is not just a theory or philosophy, it's truth grounded in an historical event. His dying for you that day is a "done deal".

But the letter goes on to talk about Jesus' serving us in the PRESENT, too. V21 "since we HAVE a great priest over the house of God..." Jesus' existence did not end at the cross. The earliest eyewitnesses testified that His tomb was empty, and they saw Him alive in a variety of circumstances over a period of forty days, with a new spiritual yet tactile body. He lives to help us now: Paul writes in Romans 8:34 that Christ Jesus "is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us." How's that for having contacts in high places?! Hebrews 7:25 says Jesus "always lives to intercede for [those who come to God through Him]"; 9:24 "He entered heaven itself, now to appear FOR US in God's presence." He's actively appealing for you to God as a "great priest over the house of God".

And this passage also indicates we can have confidence based in the FUTURE. V23 "Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, [WHY?] for he who promised is faithful." Hope has to do with future happenings. Our assurance of what's yet to come is based on the promises of God who is faithful, whose trustworthiness is shown by all the examples of Scripture being fulfilled in Jesus' own life and in the whole Bible. The author goes on in v25 to talk about us "encouraging one another...all the more as you see the Day approaching". Day with capital "D" - what Day is that? The Day the angels promised at His ascension, Acts 1:11 "This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven." The Apostle Paul spelled it out more in 1Thessalonians 4:14,16-18 "We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him...For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.And so we will be with the Lord forever.Therefore encourage each other with these words."

That's God's promise to you - and "He who promised is faithful." (V23) Back in Psalm 22, composed a thousand years before Jesus' crucifixion, we read the prophecy, Ps 22:18 "They divide my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing." That's exactly what happened when the Roman soldiers - Gentiles, completely unfamiliar with the Hebrew Scriptures - carried out their orders at the cross. Looking back to see how God has made good on His word in the past gives us assurance as we look ahead to His promises about our future.


The promise of God's cleansing of a guilty conscience is for you, here, today. Heb 10:17 "Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more." Do you have assurance of that personally for YOU? Good Friday is all about God's gift to you of a clean conscience, having been forgiven, obtaining sincere sprinkled hearts. Have you asked for that?

Jesus' permanent ongoing priesthood means, Heb 7:25 "...He is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them." Have you "come to God through Him"? You can, you know. You just have to trust Him. You can experience "the full assurance that faith brings" (10:22) - Jesus bought that for you on Good Friday!


Years ago, a father and his daughter were walking through the grass on the prairie out west. In the distance they saw a prairie fire, which would soon engulf them. The father knew there was only one way of escape: they must quickly build a fire right where they were and burn a large patch of grass. When the huge prairie fire roared near, they stood on the section that had already burned. When the flames approached them, the girl was terrified, but her father assured her, "The flames can't get to us.We are standing where the fire has already been."

Jesus our Great Priest has already been through the flames of God's Judgment. Trusting in Him - when we receive Him as our Saviour, there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1). Boldly then, Heb 4:16 "Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need." In Him we can indeed boldly go where no sinner has gone before! Let's pray.