Big Picture

The old plan was only a hint of the good things in the new plan. Since that old “law plan” wasn’t complete in itself, it couldn’t complete those who followed it. No matter how many sacrifices were offered year after year, they never added up to a complete solution. If they had, the worshipers would have gone merrily on their way, no longer dragged down by their sins. But instead of removing awareness of sin, when those animal sacrifices were repeated over and over they actually heightened awareness and guilt. The plain fact is that bull and goat blood can’t get rid of sin. That is what is meant by this prophecy, put in the mouth of Christ: You don’t want sacrifices and offerings year after year; you’ve prepared a body for me for a sacrifice. It’s not fragrance and smoke from the altar that whet your appetite. So I said, “I’m here to do it your way, O God, the way it’s described in your Book.” When he said, “You don’t want sacrifices and offerings,” he was referring to practices according to the old plan. When he added, “I’m here to do it your way,” he set aside the first in order to enact the new plan—God’s way—by which we are made fit for God by the once-for-all sacrifice of Jesus. (Hebrews 10:1-10 MSG)

Several years ago there was a movie called “Vantage Point.” It was an action thriller that centered around an attempt to assassinate the President of the United States told from seven different vantage points of the event. Each vantage point revealed just a little bit more until finally we, the viewers, had the big picture and the whole story. It was a better concept than it was a movie really, but it reminds me there is often a much bigger story being told than what is revealed or what I can see in the moment. In this text we are reminded of the old sacrificial system. It used to be that a number of sacrifices were required to remain in good standing with God. There were the big ones… like the, “scapegoat” on the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) which, in short, once a year was to atone for those who repent and does not atone for those who do not repent. Then there were all kinds of other smaller sacrifices and rituals intended to deal with ongoing matters in the day-to-day. It was a fine plan, and you could argue that it worked to a degree. People knew what to do and what to expect but, as our text today says, “The old plan was only a hint of the good things in the new plan. Since that old “law plan” wasn’t complete in itself, it couldn’t complete those who followed it. No matter how many sacrifices were offered year after year, they never added up to a complete solution.” It wasn’t the whole story. It was incomplete. It wasn’t enough and it wasn’t what God wanted, so Jesus came and completed the picture. He said, “I’m here to do it your way,” he set aside the first in order to enact the new plan—God’s way—by which we are made fit for God by the once-for-all sacrifice of Jesus.” Now, I would imagine that none of us go through our day-to-day longing to go back to the old sacrificial system. I do, however, know that each of us struggles at times with a limited perspective. We get stuck in our ways, even forming habits and routines that limit our view of who God is and what God wants to do in and through our lives. We close our hands and clench our fists and insist that this is the way it is and the way it always will be. what would it be like instead for us to open our hands today and invite God to reveal even just a little bit more of the story? What would it be like if we stopped settling for just a hint of the good things of God and asked God to open us to the bigger picture? Jesus didn’t reveal the Father in part, but in whole!

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