In Hebrews 10:11 we see the futility of the priestly service under the old ways. It’s the same monotonous thing over and over, day after day, to no avail. It reads, “And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins.” It reminds me of the Father McKenzie that the Beetles made famous in their song “Eleanor Rigby.” The verse goes, “Father McKenzie writing the words of a sermon that no one will hear. No one comes near. Look at him working darning his socks in the night when there’s nobody there. What does he care?” It’s just a refrain of weary activity that avails nothing for nobody.

I remember the repetition of auricular confession as an altar boy back in the summer of 1960. I had to go to confession on Saturday in order to serve at Mass on Sunday. I’d come out of the confessional knowing that I’d sin again before the 7am mass in the morning. Even a 13 year old felt the oppression of the sin & confess, sin & confess cycle, over and over and the feeling that I was pouring the wine into the Priest’s cup the next morning with fresh sins on my heart. It was a religious ritual that had no impact on my sin life at all. Even though I was sincere during my confession, it didn’t take long to find sin waiting for me even on my way home on Saturday afternoon. My conscience was never clear for very long and the repetition resolved nothing. This is what the author of Hebrews is trying to drive home to his readers. But he then speaks of the better sacrifice that was offered once and for all.

Hebrews 10:12-14 says, “But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.” Verse 11 focused on the futility of the repetition of a meaningless practice while verse 14 speaks of a single action accomplished by a single person that suffices to remove the sins from everyone in the world who would believe. The translation “being sanctified” or “being made holy” has to do with a process which believers go through in becoming Christ-like. But the Bible Knowledge Commentary correctly argues, “Thus by a single—in contrast with the many sacrifices offered by the priests day after day and again and again … He has made perfect forever those who are being made holy. The translation ‘are being made holy’ sounds like a continuing process. But this ignores the force of the expression ‘made holy’ in verse 10. A better rendering is them who are sanctified. The ‘sanctified’ have a status in God’s presence that is ‘perfect’ (cf. 11:40; 12:23) in the sense that they approach Him with the full acceptance gained through the death of Christ.”[1]

[1] Zane C. Hodges, “Hebrews,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 804.