Recently, I saw something in scripture about the resurrection story that I had never heard preached in any church sermon, nor seen depicted in any dramatic presentation on the resurrection. I had read through this passage many times, but had never really seen it, if you know what I mean.
What I want to share with you today doesn’t come from Matthew, Mark, Luke or John’s account of the resurrection. It comes from the writer of Hebrews and is found in chapters 9 & 10. The story I want to share with you today is what Jesus did during his death, burial and resurrection as our Great High Priest. Before we get to Hebrews though, I want us to take a quick look at Isaiah 53 which tells us some very important things about Christ’s crucifixion.
Isaiah 53:3-6 – He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. 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. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid upon him the iniquity of us all.
Saints, the words “took up”, “carried”, and “upon Him” indicate that he took these things up with himself on the cross. I’m going to ask a question here and I’ll answer it in just a moment – Where did these things he carried with him to the cross go? Were they left on the cross? Were they left in the empty tomb? Or, were they left someplace totally different?
1 Peter 2:21-25 is a paraphrase of the passage in Isaiah 53. But I want us to look specifically at verse 24.
1 Peter 2:24 – He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.
In the Greek, the word “bore” here literally means “to carry or bring up; to lead up to a higher place; to put upon the altar; to bring to the altar; to offer; to place on one’s self anything as a load to be carried.” The Word of God says:
He carried up the law that stood opposed to us (Colossians 2:13-14);
He carried up our sickness and disease (Isaiah 53:4);
He carried up our sorrows and pain (Isaiah 53:4);
He took our punishment up with Him (Isaiah 53:5; 1 Peter 2:24);
He carried our sin, guilt and shame up with Him (Isaiah 53:6; 1 Peter 2:24);
Our old sin nature was placed on the cross WITH HIM (Galatians 2:20)
So here, we have a picture of Jesus. Like the scapegoat of Old Testament scripture, he puts all of this onto his body and carries it up, or leads it up to some higher place to be placed on an altar. To find out where this altar is, we need to look at Hebrews 9 & 10.
The 9th chapter of Hebrews tells us that the tabernacle that was on earth was a copy of the true tabernacle in Heaven. In the earthly tabernacle, the Priests would routinely burn animal sacrifices for the sins of the people. Then using the blood, they would ceremonially wash each article in the tabernacle. In addition, part of their priestly duty was to keep the lampstand filled with oil and to keep it lit continuously. They would make the bread for the Table of Showbread each day so that it would remain fresh. They would keep incense burning on the Altar of Incense. Revelation 8:4 tells us that this incense represented the prayers of the saints. Then once per year, on the Day of Atonement, the High Priest would enter behind the veil to the Most Holy Place, the place of God’s presence, to apply the blood of sacrifice to the Mercy Seat, the Ark of the Covenant, and all its contents.
Hebrews 9:8-10 tells us that the true “way” into the Most Holy Place had not yet been disclosed and though the High Priest was following the regulations set by God, the sacrificial blood of an animal would never be sufficient enough to clear or make perfect the conscience of the worshiper. Verse 10 says these were only “external regulations applying until the time of the new order.”
Then we read in verses 11 and 12,
Hebrews 9:11-12 – When Christ came as high priest of the good things that are already here, he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not man-made, that is to say, not a part of this creation. He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption.”
Now this is the part of the Resurrection Story that I think we sometimes overlook. The Heavenly Tabernacle was built for a single purpose. It was built for one single priestly act, for one special and specific sacrifice, to be made at a precise time for ALL sin. The Bible says that after obtaining eternal redemption on the cross, Jesus our great High Priest entered into this Heavenly Tabernacle and he performed the priestly duty that had been performed by the priests in the Earthly tabernacle since the time of Moses. This is as much a part of the Resurrection story as anything else I know.
Now I am going to paint a word-picture for you based on Hebrews 9 & 10, and I ask that you would engage your imaginations for a moment.
Picture Jesus, our Great High Priest, entering the Tabernacle of God in Heaven ONE TIME for ALL … His own blood still freshly dripping from where the nails had pierced his hands.
As he enters the gate, he stops at the Brazen Alter, just as the priests had done for many years past. Then draining the blood of his own body, he applies his own blood to the horns of the altar. He stops there and makes one final offering for sin. But this time, the sacrifice that is thrown into the fire is not an animal. It is His own body: the same body that carried our sickness and disease; the same body that carried our sorrows and our pain; the same body that carried our rebellion, sin, guilt and shame. I can imagine Jesus joyfully watching as all that he carried is turned to ash and rendered as nothing.
Then carrying his own blood, he stops by the bronze laver and washes himself before moving into the Holy Place.
Imagine his excitement as he enters the Holy Place stopping at the lampstand. After pouring the oil of His Spirit into it, He lights it the last time for all eternity – Jesus the light of the world – lighting the way to the Father.
Imagine him stopping to prepare the bread at the Table of Showbread – remembering his own words – “I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”
As he walks, with nail-scarred hands, He applies his own blood at every station, leaving a trail of bloody footprints in the same shape of the cross on which he had just been crucified.
Now … Imagine him approaching the Alter of Incense – His blood-stained hands reaching directly through the rising smoke of the altar of incense as he grabs hold of the veil that has separated man from God since the inception of sin. He rends it in two and as it is torn, the rising prayers of the saints enter behind the veil to the throne of God for the first time.
Stop here for just a moment. Can you picture Jesus’ fresh blood stained hands on your own prayers to the Father? Saints, that should change the perspective we have of our prayer time.
Then Jesus, our Great High Priest, enters into the Holy of Holies and pours out what remains of his own blood upon the Mercy Seat, the Ark of the Covenant and its contents, forever changing God’s covenant with His people. Inside the Ark of the Covenant were the tablets of the Ten Commandments representing the law, Aaron’s rod representing God’s chosen priesthood, and the golden jar of manna representing God’s supernatural provision for His people. As Jesus applies his own blood, I can almost hear him say once again to the Father “IT is FINISHED!”
Saints, to this day, the sin and guilt of God’s people remain as ashes in the Brazen Altar of the Heavenly Tabernacle. The lampstand continues to burn. The bread of life stays fresh. And, the curtain to God’s presence forever remains torn in two.
Unfortunately, there is so much more here than I have time to share or probably that you have time to read right now. So I must trust that the Holy Spirit will make this alive in your own hearts giving you your own personal application. I encourage you to take a few moments to read through this passage in Hebrews as you prepare your hearts for this resurrection weekend. There is a picture here of the Resurrection Story and, though often missed, it is profoundly beautiful and inspiring.
In closing, I’ll leave you with this:
Hebrews 10:19-22 – Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to 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, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.