Thursday, August 22, 2013

Mickey Mantle and the Blood of Jesus

Hebrews 10:19 teaches us that we now have confidence to enter into the presence of God by the blood of Jesus.  Folks, listen.  Never underestimate the importance of the blood of Jesus Christ.  The blood of Jesus Christ changed everything.  Before the death of Christ, before the shedding of His blood, you could not go into the Holy of Holies which represented the presence of God.  Only the High Priest could do so, and he could only do it on one day each year – the Day of Atonement.  But today, through His blood, we have confidence to enter the presence of God any time we want and as often as we want.

Think for a moment about what it was like before the death of Christ.  You see, in the Old Testament, and even at the time of Jesus, they offered millions of animal sacrifices.  As a Jew living in that day, you didn't just offer a sacrifice once.  You offered those sacrifices over and over and over and over again.  Why was that the case?  This was so because all of those sacrifices were simply pictures of permanent forgiveness that would come when the ultimate sacrifice took place.  Those animal sacrifices did not bring permanent forgiveness.  They were simply pictures of the permanent forgiveness that would come when Jesus would die on the cross.  

Folks, listen, there is a very big difference between the picture and the real thing.  If you lived before the death of Jesus, all you could do is look at the picture.  But after the death of Jesus, we no longer need to offer all those sacrifices.  Have you ever wondered why we don’t’ offer animal sacrifices today when we go to church?  We don’t because back then all they had was a picture.  They didn’t have the real thing.  Today, we can put our full trust and faith in the real thing.  We don't just have a picture.  We have the real thing – the sacrificial death of Jesus. 

Think of it this way.  My dad grew up right down the street from Yankee stadium.  So my dad is a die-hard New York Yankee fan.  I'm hoping he'll still get in to heaven but I'm not sure Yankee fans are allowed.  Anyway, he's a die-hard Yankee fan and I understand why.  You see, he grew up watching the greats play baseball…Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris, Lou Gehrig - those guys.  As a kid, my dad even had a Mickey Mantle rookie card.  If you know anything about baseball or anything about baseball cards, you know that a Mickey Mantle rookie card is a highly valuable card.  My dad had those kinds of cards.

Now here is where the story takes a real bad turn.  My grandma told him, “Chuck, if you keep leaving your cards lying around the house, one day I'm going to throw them all away.”  My dad didn't believe my grandma.  He should have.  One very dark day when my dad was out playing, after once again leaving his cards lying all around the house, my grandma kept her word and took all of my dad’s baseball cards, including his Mickey Mantle rookie card, and threw them in the trash.  Do you know what my grandma did?  She threw away my inheritance.  That's what she did.  Now, as a result today I don't have a Mickey Mantle rookie card. 

Imagine I was to go on-line and print off a picture of a Mickey Mantle rookie card.  It would just be a picture of the card – not the actual card itself.  What do you think would happen if I took that picture of a Mickey Mantle rookie card down to a vintage card shop and said to the owner of the shop, “I'd like to sell you this picture of a Mickey Mantle Rookie card for exactly what a Mickey Mantle rookie card is worth."  I’m farily certain that I would get kicked out of that card shop before I could blink.  Why would this be the case?  The answer is obvious - because a picture of a Mickey Mantle rookie card is highly different than the real thing. 

Folks, Listen, all those animal sacrifices, they were simply pictures of the real thing that was to come.  Today we don’t have just a picture of forgiveness.  Today, we have the real thing.  And because we have put our faith in the real thing - the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ for our sins, we can draw near into the presence of Almighty God with confidence, any time we ant and as often as we want.  And that, my friends, is far greater in value than a boat full of Mickey Mantle rookie cards!

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