St. Athanasius Anglican Church Glen Allen Va.
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St. Athanasius Anglican is an Anglo-Catholic parish in the Diocese of the Eastern United States, Anglican Province of America
10811 Staples Mill Rd, glen Allen VA 2306o
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The meaning behind Hebrews 9:11-14 for tomorrow, Passion Sunday:

WHEN we try to understand this passage, we must remember three things which are basic to the thought of the writer to the Hebrews. (1) Religion is access to God. Its function is to bring people into God’s presence. (See below ...)
(2) This is a world of pale shadows and imperfect copies; beyond is the world of realities. The function of all worship is to bring people into contact with the eternal realities. That was what the worship of the tabernacle was meant to do; but the earthly tabernacle and its worship are pale copies of the real tabernacle and its worship; and only the real tabernacle and the real worship can give access to reality.
(3) There can be no religion without sacrifice. Purity is a costly thing; access [Heb., p. 122] to God demands purity; somehow human sin must be atoned for and uncleanness cleansed. With these ideas in his mind, the writer to the Hebrews goes on to show that Jesus is the only high priest who brings a sacrifice that can open the way to God, and that that sacrifice is himself.
To begin with, he refers to certain of the great sacrifices which the Jews were in the habit of making under the old covenant with God. (1) There was the sacrifice of bullocks and of goats. In this, he is referring to two of the great sacrifices on the Day of Atonement — of the bullock which the high priest offered for his own sins, and of the scapegoat which was led away to the wilderness bearing the sins of the people (Leviticus 16:15, 21–2). (2) There was the sacrifice of the red heifer. This strange ritual is described in Numbers 19. Under Jewish ceremonial law, if someone touched a dead body, that person was unclean. Such people were barred from the worship of God, and everything and everyone they touched also became unclean. To deal with this, there was a prescribed method of cleansing. A red heifer was slaughtered outside the camp. The priest sprinkled the blood of the heifer in front of the tabernacle seven times. The body of the beast was then burned, together with cedar and hyssop and a piece of red cloth. The resulting ashes were placed outside the camp in a clean place and constituted a purification for sin. This ritual must have been very ancient, for both its origin and its meaning are extremely obscure. The Jews themselves told that, once, a Gentile questioned Rabbi Jochanan ben Zakkai on the meaning of this rite, declaring that it sounded like pure superstition. The Rabbi’s answer was that it had been appointed by the Holy One and that no one should inquire into his reasons, but the matter should be left there without explanation. In any event, the fact remains that it was one of the great Jewish rites.
The writer to the Hebrews tells of these sacrifices and then declares that the sacrifice that Jesus brings is far greater and far more effective. We must first ask what he means by the greater and more effective tabernacle not made with hands. That is a question to which no one can give an answer which is beyond dispute. But the ancient scholars nearly all took it in one way and said that this new tabernacle which brought people into the very presence of God was nothing other than the body of Jesus. It would be another way of saying what John said: ‘Whoever has seen me has seen the Father’ (John 14:9). The worship of the ancient tabernacle was designed to bring people into the presence of God, but only in the most shadowy and imperfect way. The coming of Jesus really brought men and women into the presence of God, because in him God entered this world of space and time in a human form, and to see Jesus is to see what God is like.
The great superiority of the sacrifice Jesus brought lay in three things. (1) The ancient sacrifices cleansed the body from ceremonial uncleanness; the sacrifice of Jesus cleansed the soul. We must always remember this — in theory, all sacrifice cleansed from transgressions of the ritual law; it did not cleanse from presumptuous or high-handed sins. Take the case of the red heifer. It was not moral uncleanness that its sacrifice wiped out but the ceremonial uncleanness that resulted from touching a dead body. An individual’s body might be clean ceremonially, and yet the heart of that person might be torn with remorse. A person might feel able to enter the tabernacle and yet at the same time be far away from the presence of God. The sacrifice of Jesus takes the load of guilt from people’s consciences. The animal sacrifices of the old covenant might well leave them estranged from God; the sacrifice of Jesus shows us a God whose arms are always outstretched and in whose heart is only love.
(2) The sacrifice of Jesus brought eternal redemption. The idea was that human beings were under the dominion of sin; and, just as the purchase price had to be paid to free individuals from slavery, so the purchase price had to be paid to free us from sin.
(3) The sacrifice of Christ enabled people to leave the deeds of death and to become the servants of the living God. That is to say, he did not only win forgiveness for past sin, he enabled men and women in the future to live godly lives. The sacrifice of Jesus was not only the paying of a debt; it was the giving of a victory. What Jesus did puts us right with God, and what he does enables us to stay right with God. The act of the cross brings the love of God to us in a way that takes our terror of him away; the presence of the living Christ brings the power of God to us so that we can win a daily victory over sin. The New Testament scholar B. F. Westcott outlines four ways in which Jesus’ sacrifice of himself differs from the animal sacrifices of the old covenant. (1) The sacrifice of Jesus was voluntary. The animal’s life was taken from it; Jesus gave his life. He willingly laid it down for his friends. (2) The sacrifice of Jesus was spontaneous. Animal sacrifice was entirely the product of law; the sacrifice of Jesus was entirely the product of love. We pay our debts in business dealings because we have to; we give gifts to our loved ones because we want to. It was not law but love that lay behind the sacrifice of Christ. (3) The sacrifice of Jesus was rational. The animal victim did not know what was happening; Jesus all the time knew what he was doing. He died, not as an ignorant victim caught up in circumstances over which he had no control and did not understand, but with eyes wide open. [Heb., p. 125] (4) The sacrifice of Jesus was moral. Animal sacrifice was mechanical; but Jesus’ sacrifice was made through the eternal Spirit. What happened on Calvary was not a matter of prescribed ritual, mechanically carried out; it was a matter of Jesus obeying the will of God for the sake of men and women. Behind it, there was not the mechanism of law but the choice of love. -Barclay
Tomorrow we will show how and why the Christian priesthood is not singular, but has Orders, having been perfected of the old, and the duties of those orders in relation to each other and the gifts, as taught in Scripture, accorded each through Atonement:
A Greater High Priest; as conferring richer blessings, as passing through a better Tabernacle, as completing His atoning work. A More Perfect Sacrifice. A Better Covenant. He who is OUR HIGH PRIEST. Christ in Himself. Christ in Relation to Men. Christ in Relation to God.
"Let us burn together with this thirst; let us run together to the fountain of understanding. Let us . . . long rather for it as a hart yearns for a spring . . . let us long for the wellspring of which Scripture says, “With you is the fountain of life.” . . . Long for the fountains of water. With God is the fountain of life, a fountain that can never dry up. . . . God has everything that will refresh you. He is able to fill anyone who comes to him. . . . This is what I am thirsting for, to reach him and to appear before him. I am thirsty on my pilgrimage, parched in my running, but I will be totally satisfied when I arrive." AUGUSTINE: EXPOSITIONS OF THE PSALMS 42.2, 3, 5.1
"Do not be surprised that I view the people of the old covenant as pitiable and woeful. When so many blessings from heaven came into their hands, they thrust them aside and were at great pains to reject them. The morning Sun of justice arose for them, but they thrust aside its rays and still sit in darkness. We [the Gentiles], who were nurtured by darkness, drew the light to ourselves and were freed from the gloom of error. They were the branches of that holy root, but those branches were broken. We had no share in the root, but we did reap the fruit of godliness. From their childhood they read the prophets, but they crucified him whom the prophets had foretold. We did not hear the divine prophecies, but we did worship him of whom they prophesied. And so they are pitiful because they rejected the blessings that were sent to them, while others seized hold of these blessings and drew them to themselves. Although they had been called to the adoption of sons, they fell to kinship with dogs; we who were dogs recei
"But, instead, I was in a ferment of wickedness. I deserted you and allowed myself to be carried away by the sweep of the tide. I broke all your lawful bounds and did not escape your lash. For what person can escape it? You were always present, angry and merciful at once, strewing the pangs of bitterness over all my lawless pleasures to lead me on to look for others unallied with pain. You meant me to find them nowhere but in yourself, O Lord, for you teach us by inflicting pain, you smite so that you may heal,59 and you kill us so that we may not die away from you. AUGUSTINE: CONFESSIONS
A Good Friday Devotion by Fr James Johnson
"This excellent and pious woman would never have endured remaining at home and leaving the sepulcher [after the burial] if she had not had respect for sabbath law and the penalty that was incurred by those who transgressed it. This fear curbed her excessive zeal, allowing ancient custom to prevail, and to withdraw her thoughts from the object of her most earnest longings for awhile. But when the sabbath was already past and the dawn of the next day was appearing, she hurried back to the spot. And then, when she saw the stone rolled away from the mouth of the tomb, well-grounded suspicions seized her mind and, calling to mind the ceaseless hatred of the Jews, she thought that Jesus had been carried away. And so she accuses them of this crime in addition to their other misdeeds. While she was thus engaged and mulling over the possibilities in her mind, the woman returned to the men who loved the Lord, anxious to obtain the cooperation of the most intimate of his disciples in her quest. And so deep-rooted and im
"Our Lord, now manifested to Mary Magdalene, the women, Peter, the disciples going to Emmaus, manifests to the leaders of His Church with a message of reconciliation. They had sinned against Him, but He… More returned not in anger, but with pardon. He had dismissed their sin from His memory, let them do the same, accepting His message of Peace.
He brought conviction of Faith, proving He was alive and the same crucified Jesus. The wounds of the faithless are the confirmation of the faithful. He came bringing joy with Him--"then were the disciples glad when they saw the Lord." Faith, peace, and joy (Rom. xv. 13) are the heritage of the Church, the very life by which it lives and by which it overcomes the world. ~ Scott