One of my dearest friends is a rule follower. She loves rules and boundaries and lists because they help her know exactly what she needs to do in order to thrive. Me, on the other hand, well, let’s just say I’ve never been great with rules. My personality tends to follow the heart behind the law, but I typically want to tweak the letter of the law. Growing up, even though I tried really hard, I felt like I could never quite live up to rules, and that they were around just to catch me whenever I’d step out of line.
Take a moment and imagine what both the rule-followers and the rule-breakers felt like in the Old Testament when the law was given to God’s people. I wonder how many would have identified with me, and how many would have identified with my rule-following friend? I wonder which people jumped at the opportunity to measure their lives, and which ones shriveled with fear because they knew they would never measure up.
The truth is, both of us are right about the law. My rule-following friend is right that laws, and specifically God’s law, is holy and for our ultimate good and flourishing. And yet, I am also right to be overwhelmed by the reality that I can never uphold every letter of the law – no matter how hard I try! Hebrews 10 tells us that the law, although very powerful and good, doesn’t have the power to save us. And so we need something, or someone, greater than the law.
So far in Hebrews we’ve learned that Jesus, our great high priest, is better. He is better than the angels (Hebrews 1), greater than Moses (Hebrews 3), and better than Joshua and Aaron (Hebrews 4). To the original readers of Hebrews, the writer was pointing out that Jesus is better than anything that they hold dear or revere. And now, in Hebrews 10, the writer wants them to know that the law – the thing they measure and live their lives by – cannot save them.
But Jesus can.
Because Jesus is greater than the law.
The law is a powerful thing, but Hebrews 10 tells us that it is but a mere shadow of the good things to come. It has the power to point us to a world full of goodness and order. It protects the widow, the orphan, the sojourner. The law is designed to ensure justice and flourishing for all people. And yet, look around you. Is that what you see in the world you live in? Not at all! The law has only provided glimpses of this, but only Christ can provide salvation and redemption for all of humanity.
Romans 5 says, “Now the law came in so that the transgression may increase, but where sin increased, grace multiplied all the more, so that just as sin reigned in death, so also grace will reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
I love how Romans 5 says, “grace will reign.” Because of Jesus’s righteousness, because of His sacrifice on the cross, we will one day live in a world where what the law was a mere shadow of will be our full reality. Because Jesus is greater than all things, one day grace will reign.
Revelation 21 says this grace looks like a world without tears and without sorrow. It will be empty of death and destruction. Justice and goodness and kindness will be our norm, and sin and suffering will be no more.
The end of our passage today says,
“For by one offering he has perfected for all time those who are made holy. And the Holy Spirit also witnesses to us, for after saying, ‘This is the covenant that I will establish with them after those days, says the Lord. I will put my laws on their hearts and I will inscribe them on their minds,’ then he says, ‘Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no longer.’ Now where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin.” – Hebrews 10:15-18
And so today, sweet sister, whether you find the law encouraging or crushing, remember it isn’t our saving grace. Only Jesus Christ can provide a grace that saves us from our sin. Only He can make us holy. Look to Him, the author and perfecter of our faith, and He will show us how to live until the day when He returns and grace reigns.