George H. Morrison - Devotional Sermons
Through the Eternal Spirit
Christ,...through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God--Heb 9:14
The Two Worlds
It is not likely, from the turn of the expression, that the writer is thinking of the Holy Spirit, and probably we shall get nearest to his meaning if we recall his outlook upon life. For him there were two worlds, one the visible world that lies around us with its fields and its oceans and its cities, with its splendors of the Jewish Temple; and then beyond that another world, invisible yet not necessarily distant, free from the relativities of space and time. To most of us the world we see is real, and the world we cannot see is but a shadow. To this writer the visible is shadow, and the unseen is the intense reality. Everything here that is bright and good and beautiful, even the ark, the altar and the Temple, are but copies of the realities beyond. John tells us he was in the isle that is called Patmos, and then he adds, "I was in the spirit." There were two environments for him, and there are two environments for everybody. And the worth of life rests on the possibility of piercing through the visible environment into the realities beyond. To the author of Hebrews, that is what Jesus did for the common man and woman in the street. He lifted their lives out of the shadow-world into what this writer calls the world to come. And by the world to come he does not mean a world that is to come when life is over, but is to come, by the saving grace of God, into the midst of our shadow-life today.
Now when the writer thinks of the death of Christ, that eternal world was always in his view. All other sacrifices were in the shadow-world; this in the region of reality. When a lamb was offered upon a Jewish altar, that offered lamb was, as it were, a sacrament. It was a visible sign of something deeper. It was a hint of an invisible reality. But when Christ died, into this shadow-world there broke the great reality at last--the world to come came upon the cross. In this world are many different spirits. There are various spirits of selfishness and hate. In the eternal world one spirit reigns for ever--it is the spirit of self-forgetful love. And in the animating and triumphant spirit of the world that is ignorant of space and time our blessed Savior gave up His life on Calvary. All that inspires reality--all that constitutes its very heart, all that differentiates the world to come from the shadow-world of time and sense leapt into the light and shone into the eyes of lowly men when Christ offered Himself upon the cross.
Only in Christianity Does God Offer the Sacrifice
But even so we scarcely reach the depths of that most beautiful expression. For to the Oriental (however it be with us ) the word spirit was never an abstraction. Shining through the letters he saw God; it brought him into touch with the Divine; it was in God that there lay that innermost reality which we describe as the spirit of eternity. Now think again of the sacrifice of Christ. In every other religion that we know of it is man who gives the sacrifice. He goes to his herd and takes his bulls or goats, and in expiation he offers them to God. But the glory of our Christian faith is this, that there it is not man who gives the sacrifice. The giver of the offering is God. God so loved the world that He gave. Yes, dying upon the cross for us, Christ showed the reigning spirit of reality. But dying, He did even more than that--He showed that spirit in the heart of God. It was not to change that heart but to reveal it; not to gain but to display its love that our Lord died upon the tree. Through the eternal spirit, through that spirit which reigns where things are real, through that spirit which from all eternity has had its source and dwelling in the heart of God, our Lord offered Himself upon the cross.
The Freedom with Which Our Lord Died
Then blended with that, though it seem strange to us, is the thought of the freedom in which our Savior died. That great thought is never far away from the heart of this inspired writer. When we say that ours is a religion of the spirit, we do not only mean that it is spiritual. We mean that it moves in the region of the spirit, free from the chafing fetters of compulsion. And always, to New Testament writers, spirit conveys that atmosphere of liberty as of the wind that bloweth where it listeth. Now once again think of the death of Christ. Was it inevitable and compelled? Was our blessed Lord in the grip of cruel hands? Was He held in the resistless power of Rome? No, says our writer, and he says it passionately, returning again and again to the great thought, our Lord died in real and spiritual freedom. The cross was not repression. It was final, full, deliberate expression. It was not endured in the spirit of a slave--it was welcomed in the spirit of a Son. It was not borne in any grim necessity, but in the perfect freedom of a sonship that found its joy in doing the Father's will. Picture the struggling and resisting beast dragged to the sacrifice of Jewish altars. Through compulsion it was haled to death. The cords of bondage were upon its horns. But Christ offered Himself through the eternal spirit--the free glad spirit of an eternal sonship--and that made all the difference in the world.
Previous Day | Today's Devotional | Next Day