From the Word
13 For if the sprinkling of defiled persons with the blood of goats and bulls and with the ashes of a heifer sanctifies for the purification of the flesh, 14 how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify your conscience from dead works to serve the living God.
Hebrews 9:13–14, RSV
Christ sacrificed not goats, nor calves, nor birds; not bread, nor blood, nor flesh, as did Aaron and his descendants. He offered his own body and blood, and the manner of the sacrifice was spiritual, for it was offered through the Holy Spirit. Though the body and blood of Christ were visible like any other material object, the fact that he offered them as a sacrifice was not apparent. It was not a visible sacrifice as in the case of those offered at the hands of Aaron. Christ offered himself in heart before God. His sacrifice was perceptible to no mortal. Therefore, his bodily flesh and blood became a spiritual sacrifice.
In the new order, the tabernacle or house is spiritual; for it is heaven, or the presence of God. Christ hung upon a cross; he was not offered in a temple. He was offered before the eyes of God, and there he still abides. The cross is an altar in a spiritual sense. The material cross was indeed visible, but none knew it as Christ’s altar. His prayer, his sprinkled blood, were all spiritual, for it was all wrought through his spirit.
The fruit and blessing of his office and sacrifice, the forgiveness of sins and our justification, are likewise spiritual. In the Old Covenant, the priest with his sacrifices and sprinklings of blood effected merely an external absolution, or pardon. It rendered no one inwardly holy and just before God. Something more than that was necessary to secure real forgiveness. With the priesthood of Christ there is true spiritual remission, sanctification and absolution. These avail before God, whether we be outwardly excommunicated or not. Christ’s blood has obtained for us pardon forever acceptable to God. He will forgive us our sins for the sake of that blood as long as its power shall last and its intercession for grace in our behalf shall continue, which is forever.
Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 82–83.
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