There are a lot of things we do once a year. We celebrate birthdays and anniversaries. We enjoy Christmas and other holidays with our families. We settle our tax bill with the government. We experience much of life through the rhythms of yearly repetition. Yet we also experience once-in-a-lifetime moments like the birth of a child, graduation from college, or the declaration of wedding vows. While once-a-year moments are important, once-in-a-lifetime moments often bring with them a greater sense of significance.
The writer of Hebrews reminds us of this very thing as we encounter in chapter 9 a riveting contrast between something that occurred once a year and something that occurred once for all. One day each year, God’s covenant people in the Old Testament experienced the Day of Atonement. On that day, the high priest took the blood of a sacrificed animal and made atonement for his sins and the sins of the people. But now because of Jesus, what was once a year is now once for all. Speaking of Jesus and his high priestly work on the cross, the writer of Hebrews declares the good news in Hebrews 9:12, “he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption.” Not wanting us to miss the importance of Jesus’ once-and-for-all sacrifice for sin, the writer repeats the thought in Hebrews 9:26, “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 points us to a secure gospel faith, one based not on our performance, merit, or feeling, but on Jesus’ perfect and complete sacrifice on our behalf. Nothing can be added to it or subtracted from it. Jesus paid it all, once for all. When we let this transforming truth soak into our hearts and minds, a microburst of joyous gratitude and humble confidence erupts. The payment for your sins was very costly, but Jesus paid it all with his precious blood. Today, wrap your heart and mind around the good news that Jesus not only paid it all; he paid it once for all. What a good glorious Savior we serve.