Small Group Tools
Contemporary Comments 2018
Texts: Romans 8:3; John 1:29; Revelation 5:12; Hebrews 7:1–28; 9:11–15; Leviticus 16:13; Hebrews 9:20–23
Erin Murphy of Staunton, Virginia, had to count twice because she couldn’t believe her eyes. Last Saturday morning she discovered that one of her sheep had given birth the night before to five lambs. Most sheep give birth to one or two lambs. Statistically, having quintuplets—in which they all survive—is a one-in-a-million occurrence.
The vet warned that the mother ewe would not be able to provide enough milk to feed the babies, so they quickly found homes for a couple of them. The Murphy’s have five boys, so they are keeping busy helping care for the babies along with their other farm chores.1
There’s another Lamb that has broken all records on earth, Jesus Christ, of whom John the Baptist once proclaimed, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29). The apostle Peter explained that we have been redeemed “with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot” (1 Peter 1:19).
The connection of Jesus with a lamb is more than a cute analogy. It’s a biblical symbol or type, which prefigured the work of Christ in saving people from sin. Peter adds: “He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world” (verse 20). We see the first hints of Jesus’ work in Genesis 3:21 after Adam and Eve sinned. “Also for Adam and his wife the LORD God made tunics of skin, and clothed them.”
Our Sabbath school lesson this week, “Christ in the Heavenly Sanctuary,” focuses on the meaning of Jesus’ sacrificial death as the Lamb of God. As the quarterly explains, this figure is an “unmistakable reference to the heavenly sanctuary.” The book of Hebrews advances our understanding of Christ’s ongoing work in the Most Holy Place of the heavenly sanctuary.
While the earthly sanctuary had various priests who lived and died, Jesus “continues forever” and “has an unchangeable priesthood. Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them” (Hebrews 7:24, 25). We also discover that though blood from animals was symbolically used in the earthly sanctuary, Christ gave his own life to save us, for “with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having eternal redemption” (Hebrews 9:12).
Now that’s a record that will never be beat!
~ For Reflection
Connecting: Christ is described as our “intercessor” in the heavenly sanctuary. Make a list of other words that portray Jesus’ work in heaven (e.g., substitute, link, go-between, etc.).
Sharing: Reflect on Hebrews 6:19, 20. How does Christ’s work as our intercessor in the heavenly sanctuary bring us the assurance of salvation?
1. Hebrews affirms that Jesus’ work brings us hope and is like an anchor for our souls.
2. It is impossible for us to stand before a holy God in our sinful state; if we did, we would be consumed.
3. Jesus has gone “behind the veil” and stands before God on our behalf.
4. Christ is not a temporary priest but an eternal High Priest who intercedes on our behalf.
5. As a forerunner, Jesus opens the way for us to approach God with holy boldness (see Hebrews 10:19-22).
Applying: Draw a courtroom scene with seven elements: prosecutor, the jury, a court reporter, a defense attorney, the judge, a defendant, and the law. Where does Jesus stand in your picture?
Valuing: Reflect on the concept of Jesus as your substitute. Do you feel the need for an intercessor in your life?