I’d like you to take a moment to consider what I believe to be one of the greatest understatements ever made. It’s found at the end of Hebrews 12:24, but I will include vv. 22 & 23 for context:
Heb. 12:22-24 But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, 23 to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, 24 to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel.
We “have come… to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than (the blood) of Abel.” The author of Hebrews tells us that Christ’s blood is speaking, and that it is speaking better things than Abel’s blood spoke. Such a statement seems strange to our modern ears and may appear to be a great mystery, but the truth conveyed in these few words is gloriously profound and deeply edifying to contemplate. Let’s take a moment to look at the first instance of blood speaking in the Scriptures:
Gen. 4:10 And He said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood cries out to Me from the ground.”
Here God tells Cain that his brother’s blood is not just speaking, but “crying out” to Him from the ground. There is no mystery as to what that blood was saying. Righteous Abel had been slain by wicked Cain, and the blood that had been spilled was crying out for justice. “Justice is Required!” was the cry that Abel’s blood made from the earth.
But the author of Hebrews tells us that Christ’s blood is saying something better than “Justice is required”. What exactly is it that Christ’s blood is saying? Quite simply, Christ’s blood is saying “Justice has been Satisfied!” For every sin of every one of His people, justice has been fully satisfied. Not a drop of debt remains. The judge of all the earth has done right. No one can bring a charge against God’s elect, for they have all been justified (Rom. 8:33). They have been justified because their Mediator ever lives to make intercession for them, and one primary aspect of that intercession is His blood continually declaring that the justice required against them for the multitude of their sins has been fully satisfied! Yeah, that’s better than what Abel’s blood said isn’t it? What a glorious understatement.
Extent of the Atonement
I believe contemplating this truth can shed a great deal of light upon the debate over the extent of the atonement. Many in our day set forth the idea that Christ died for all men everywhere, but that His death is only made effectual by sinners who choose to believe in Him by their own free will. Now, even if we set aside the problematic idea of free will for the moment, we can see the difficulty that such an idea raises with regard to Heb. 12:24. Calvinists often point out that it is unfathomable that Christ would die for one group of people, but intercede for some different group of people. Both His sacrifice and His intercession are His work as our Great High Priest. Our salvation is equally dependent upon both (Heb. 7:24-25). It ought to be beyond dispute that He intercedes for those for whom He died, and that He died for those for whom He intercedes. But passages such as John 17:9 plainly teach that He does not intercede for every individual in the world.
John 17:9 “I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for those whom You have given Me, for they are Yours.”
But our passage makes this even more abundantly clear. His death and intercession cannot be separated, for a primary aspect of His intercession is His blood crying out that justice has been satisfied on behalf of all those for whom He died.
Accuser of the Brethren
Dear Christian, I want this idea to do more than inform your doctrine of Soteriology though. Contemplation of this blessed truth can be such a great blessing to us as we daily battle against sin. We all stumble in many things and fail as we struggle to live a holy life (James 3:2, Rom. 7). We know that should Satan stand before our Lord, he would have no shortage of sins of which he could truthfully accuse us! But in such an occasion, our dear Lord need not even open His mouth, for an answer to each and every accusation is provided by the intercession of His precious blood. To every accusation comes the exact same reply: “Justice has been satisfied. Justice has been satisfied. Justice has been satisfied!”
So when the wicked one comes to accuse you, remember that you have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous (1 Jn. 2:1). Remember that Christ’s blood was shed to cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God (Heb. 9:14). And remember that Christ ever lives to make intercession for you, and that His blood is at this very moment crying out in regard to every one of your sins, “Justice has been satisfied!”
Oh dear unbeliever. Don’t scoff at the idea of talking blood. You know in your conscience that you are guilty, and that when you stand before Jesus Christ on judgement day He will justly condemn you for your life of rebellion against Him. You spend much of your energy seeking ways to quiet your conscience, but none of your attempts will ever take away the guilty feelings, because none of them can actually remove your guilt. But here is the good news: Jesus Christ, who will judge all men on the last day, stands before you today, offering to be your Advocate. If you will trust in Him, if you will forsake your sins and rely solely upon His mercy for salvation, He will wash you white as snow. Your conscience will no longer condemn you, because your sins will no longer cry out for justice, it will have been satisfied by Him, the one and only Savior for sinners. Come to Him today, and He will give you rest.
His Throne is Forever and Ever!