“Who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people’s: for this he did once, when he offered up himself.” (Hebrews 7:27, KJV 1900)
Certain things are better than others. One reason that we classify something as better has to do with its function. Certain things just work better than others. When I was young, my dad introduced me to surf fishing. He purchased a rod and reel for me and it worked good for one fishing trip. Yet on the second, the reel started to have problems. It became nearly impossible to reel the line in. Later, I received a new reel, that I am still using today, over 50 years later. It is better because of its lasting effectual function.
Here the author of Hebrews continues to contrast Jesus as the high priest after the order of Melchizedek to the Levitical priesthood according to the Law. I know the author of Hebrews seems to be spending a lot of time on this, and for us 21st Century believers it may seem unnecessarily redundant. However, for the Jewish readers of his letter, it was not. They were a community of Jews, some of whom were true believers and others who had mere intellectual assent of the gospel. The latter were in danger of not coming to true faith in Christ and falling back to their old system of Judaism under the Law. Thus, it was vital for those Jews to understand that this transition was much better.
The author has already presented many arguments stating that Jesus was better. He was better than the prophets, the angels, Moses, Joshua, Abraham, and the high priests. Thus, He offered a better rest, mediates a better covenant. Now the author mentions that He as the great high priest offers a better sacrifice. Understand the author is not saying the older things were bad, but that Jesus is better.
The system of sacrifice under the Law was good in as much as it pointed to the holiness of God as the divine standard and the severity of sin. It demonstrated that the wages of sin is death, which required the shedding of blood. The Scriptures indicated that the soul of one who sins shall die (Ezek 18:4). The sacrificial system did not permanently deal with man’s deepest problem of the soul. However, it should have made him aware of his own deep problem of corruption. This would have brought man to humility and dependence upon the mercy of God.
Because of man’s problem, the sacrifices of animals were required constantly for sin. As soon as the sacrifice for sin was made, a person would walk away from the Temple and sin again. The process would need repeating for the person’s entire life. It is because those animal sacrifices were not perfect and were not able to permanently deal with the problem of sin. Man’s sin required the shedding of a man’s blood. A better sacrifice was needed.
The sacrifice required an animal considered pure, without spot or blemish. John the Baptist pointed to Jesus as the perfect sacrifice, stating, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” (John 1:29, KJV 1900) The author of Hebrews states that Jesus was perfect, without sin. Paul wrote that Jesus knew no sin (2 Cor 5:21). Because Jesus had no sin, He could take upon Himself the sins of men and die as a man for their sins. On the cross He offered Himself as the perfect sacrifice for sin once and for all. He put an end to the sacrificial system of the Law, since.
To the Jew who came out of the sacrificial system of the Law, and truly believed, this would give great assurance. Yet, to those having been enlightened, having merely tasted the truth of the gospel without truly believing, this would have been a tremendous argument as to why they should trust completely in Jesus for their salvation. Jesus the great high priest offered Himself as the greatest sacrifice for sin.