Every week, I have the joy of leading a girls small group at the public high school where I teach. Preparing for and being a part of this group is one of my very favorite things I get to do; I’m constantly grateful for the opportunity. Here is some content that I’ve prepared for them, and I hope it’s encouraging for you too.
Scripture Reading: Hebrews 9:1-15
It’s officially Christmas time! As crazy and exciting, and even hard, as this season can be, as Christians, this gets to be one of our favorite time of the year for a deeper reason than just the food and parties and presents, even in the midst of our loneliness or exemplified reminders of brokenness. This is the time where we get to collectively celebrate that Jesus came to save. And while this can be such an overused phrase, how sweet it is when we dig deep to understand– to understand what exactly we were saved from and how Jesus changed everything when He came.
People in the first century were waiting, longing for a Messiah, a Savior that God had been promising for centuries. There were 400 long, bloody, law-memorizing years in between Malachi and Matthew, the end of the Old Testament and the beginning of the New. To these people, Jesus finally arriving was an answer to a promise of a second, better covenant that was given generations prior, a promise that had been remembered through storytelling and tradition and rituals.
Jesus came to change the game– the game of the Temple and the priests and the hundreds of sacrifices. Of the lampstand and the glory seat and the sacred, exclusive Holy Place that fulfilled the first covenant God made with His people. He came to take a law that was once written on stone and write it on our hearts instead and to become the better Priest who only had to make one sacrifice, Himself, instead of shedding the blood of many animals. He came to take the temple, a once Holy, external place, and put it in his people instead, securing the way through his death and resurrection. He came so that we could live life from what he already accomplished instead of striving to a place where he would accept us so that we could be reunited with our Creator.
And he did this because of his love and because of our sin. Because of the Father’s character and our separation from him. He provided a better way for his people, one where we are already the good and faithful servant, where we are already holy and unblemished and free the second we say “yes” to his calling. Friends, it started long before the first Christmas, but the plan was set into action the minute the angel came to Mary. Everything. Changed. And this deeply matters for us still, enough to remember and celebrate in community and to sit quietly in gratitude and awe. Jesus came to save and to make a better way to the Father, one that we have full access through today. How good and glorious of a thing this is!
According to verses 1-7, what were the rituals the priest and high priest had to perform in order to wash away the sins of the people in God’s eyes?
According to verses 8-10, why was this system not the best way?
In what ways in our daily lives do we try and earn God’s love? Do you feel like it’s ever enough?
In verses 11-14, how is Jesus the better priest and sacrifice?
As stated in verse 15, what does this mean for us, today, as people of the second covenant?