Hebrews 12:24, “And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel.”
This morning, the rapid decay of the world sometimes lends to improper perspectives about God-honouring subjects. Quite often today, people mistake lust for love, happiness for joy, wishes for hopes, and even revenge for justice. Whenever people today talk about something they want done or would like to see done, they quite often reason it this way, “It should be done cause that’s just making me so mad!” The ultimate reason that someone wants the change is not so that justice will be served (as they might convince themselves) but rather their own personal vengeance or revenge on the situation. Further still, magnanimous compassion for vain show and glory does not constitute mercy. Rather, justice is the true and correct rendering of consequences executed by a person of authority. Mercy is sincere pity being executed by one capable of extending it. Modern society’s mindset of personal feelings and outward show fail in the most basic of ways to measure up to the Biblical standard of these two subjects.
Before we launch into the waters of thoughts on God’s mercy and God’s justice, let us consider the context of our study verse above. Paul is winding down His epistle to the Hebrew brethren on the “better things” of Christ. He has already shown in vivid detail about the better priesthood of Christ, the better sacrifice of Christ, and the better covenant of Christ. As he brings it home in the 12th chapter, the verses in the immediate context of ours show the better mountain (Sion), better city, etc. that we have today as compared to the Old Testament saints. Notice the singularity of Paul’s language. Jesus as our High Priest and sacrifice is “the” mediator, of “the” new covenant, to “the” blood of sprinkling. Without knowing anything else, Paul makes it crystal clear that Jesus Christ is not only better than anything else, He is the one and only that did, does, and will do these better things.
Who is our Mediator? Paul says there is one and only: Jesus Christ. (I Timothy 2:5) What about our new covenant? Paul said that we have one that will serve us well forever (nothing new after this one). What about blood to cover us? Paul says that the blood of Jesus is the satisfaction of what God required. (Hebrews 9:12, 10:14) These singular points serve to show us not only the better aspects of Christ but also the singularity of His work that was His to accomplish with the help of no one else. (Hebrews 1:3)
Moving into the main thoughts that we have upon this verse, notice what Paul compares the blood of Christ’s sprinkling to. He compares it to the blood of Abel. While Abel’s blood showed something significant, Paul esteems what Christ’s blood shows even better. Abel’s death constituted the first murder ever witnessed upon the earth. (Genesis 4) When his brother Cain rose up against him, God declared that Abel’s blood cried unto Him from the ground. While we understand that blood does not really have a voice, the blood on the ground that God saw spoke of something. Innocent blood shed by the hand of another cries out for righteous justice. Abel’s blood cried out that day to God, “Innocent blood has been spilled! Let justice be served!”
This is the same vein of thought as those souls in Revelation 6 that were slain for the testimony of Christ. (Revelation 6:9-10) People who have died in the service to Christ (such as Stephen did) have blood that must be answered for. Their blood cries to the Holy God how long it shall be before justice is righteously served for the transgression. The best that our natural blood can cry for is veritable justice if our lives have been snuffed out in innocency. Courts of law judge based upon those very matters. Sometimes, our blood can answer for mercy should we sacrifice ourselves in the stead of another, but even that mercy has a problem: real justice did not happen.
However, Paul makes the case that Christ’s blood of sprinkling cried so much more and better than Abel’s did. Looking at the type in Leviticus 16, we see the high priest enter behind the veil into the holiest of all with the blood of a goat to sprinkle before God. What he sprinkled the blood’s goat upon was the mercy seat where God had promised to dwell between the wings of the cherubims. By sprinkling the blood, the symbology pointed to the mercy of God being extended for the sins of the people that they had committed against Him.
Moving forward to the anti-type – Jesus Christ – we see that instead of the blood of another, He entered with His own blood for this great and noble work. His own blood being sprinkled cries out for mercy at the behest of sinners and vile traitors before God. Though our own blood rightly deserved the highest order of condemnation from the just hand of God, Christ’s blood comes forth to say, “Mercy, mercy in the name of my righteousness.” Abel’s blood could only cry, “Justice, justice in the name of my innocence.” How much better is the blood of Christ than that of Abel.
Further still, consider that God never acts in one regard to the expense of something else in His Person. For example, God never acts graciously or mercifully at the expense of being just. Nor does He act justly at the expense of also exhibiting the love that His Person embodies. When He justly chastises His children, love does not stand in the corner, but rather, the love is in sweet unison and accord with the just chastisement. Dear friends, when the blood of Christ, speaking those sweet tones of mercy at the behest of vile and wretched sinners, was shed, God’s justice did not stand in the corner while the transaction of mercy took place.
Even though man’s lips can cry for mercy while his innocent blood is being shed (like Stephen did), man’s blood cannot cry for mercy. Even if it could, the mercy could not satisfy the justice that the person deserved. However, when Christ’s precious blood was shed, sprinkled upon the alter, through the Eternal Spirit, mercy indeed cried out in the ears of Almighty God. However, what also cried out that day from His own blood was, “Justice thou art served!” His blood of sprinkling did not just give us mercy, but it satisfied the justice that God’s law required. We deserved to die, and yet He died for us. That death brings the sweet fruit of mercy unto us that says, “Live forevermore.” That death likewise brings the sweet fruit of perfection to God’s law that says, “Satisfied forevermore.”
One might ask, “How could God justly receive vile reprobates into heaven?” Fair question. Biblical answer, “Christ blood speaks to the honour and satisfaction of justice and the magnanimous extension of mercy.” In the past, I have been guilty of saying something like this from the pulpit, “Give me mercy, but don’t give me what I deserve.” While the statement was uttered sincerely, there is a better way to say it. We should rather say, “Give me mercy, but don’t give me what I deserved.” We did deserve something far worse, but due to the merciful hand of God through His Son, we now deserve exactly what Christ deserves (eternal life and immortality) as He justly satisfied what it took by His blood to bring us there.