Finish this verse: “It is appointed unto men once to die…”

If you have enough familiarity with the Bible and Christian preaching on heaven and hell, you probably know that in context of the argument of whether or not a person’s eternal destiny can be changed after death. Judgment day is coming, they will say, so change now before you are dead. I think the real, complete thought that surrounds that particular verse is a lot more relevant to our everyday Christian life than the cudgel of “repent or hell” that verse has become.

For Christ did not enter a sanctuary made with human hands that was only a copy of the true one; he entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God’s presence. Nor did he enter heaven to offer himself again and again, the way the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood that is not his own. Otherwise Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But he has appeared once for all at the culmination of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself. Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.

Hebrews 9:24-28

The greater passage is the Hebrew writer’s letter, a treatise reconciling the seemingly divergent roles of the promised Messiah, not in harmonizing Scripture that was never intended to indicate Jesus but in underscoring the existing composition and letting it ring out. The prophet and priest and king that Jesus was and continues to be are fulfillments of hope that the earlier forms pointed to.

Just as people only die once, Jesus also once died and eliminated sin. It’s not so much that judgement day is coming and Christians should cower in fear and fret over their eternal security but that, for the redeemed, we are already judged and now free because Jesus took our punishment for us. That security is worth sharing, because judgement day will come.

Ethan KIrl