By Robert Halsey Pine
“But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the age to remove sin by the sacrifice of himself. And just as it is appointed for mortals to die once, and after that judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin, but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.” (Hebrews 9:11-28 NRSV).
Jesus went up to heaven to be an advocate for us with the Father. He was the perfect sacrifice for our sins. God grew restless with His people and decided that He should go and be among them. In coming to be with His people through Christ Jesus, God showed the world His love in His ultimate sacrifice, the sacrifice of part of Himself once for all. St. Paul says, “For Christ did not enter a sanctuary made by human hands, a mere copy of the true one, but he entered into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf.”
We only get to live this life one time. I remember a humorous way my mother used to express her commitment to doing something. She would say, “Like the 200-pound lady said as she prepared to jump off of a 10-story building into a teaspoon full of water. ‘Watch me closely, ‘cause I’m only going to do this once!’” Applying my mother’s humor to the life of Jesus, He was also saying, “Watch and listen closely, for I’m only going to do this once.” He spoke God’s Word to us and He died for us on a cross. Unlike the high priest who “enters the Holy Place year after year with blood that is not his own,” Paul tells us that Jesus does not have to “offer himself again and again.”
Before we know it, our life is gone. We are here but for a moment. The life and death of Christ Jesus has made it possible for us to maximize our experience in the natural life by giving us a taste of eternal life with God through Him. There is only one thing that will matter at our last day. Do we know Him? If we truly know Him, we leapfrog judgement and join Him in His Father’s kingdom. Like Jesus we only have to die once if we believe in Him. We must have enough confidence in our seeking God through Christ and the Holy Spirit that as we make the leap we can say, “Watch closely, I’m only going to do this once.”
Robert Halsey Pine was born at Newark, Ohio in 1943. He is a graduate of Northeastern University and completed the program of Theological Education by Extension: Education for Ministry, School of Theology, the University of the South.