According to what may be an apocryphal story, shared by my friend Alan Smith, two visitors were touring the U. S. Naval facility in Annapolis, Maryland. As they followed the tour guide, they noticed several students on their hands and knees examining a courtyard with pencils and clipboards in hand.
"What are they doing?" one of them asked their escort.
"Each year," he replied with a grin, "The upperclassmen ask the freshmen how many bricks it took to finish paving this courtyard."
"So what's the answer?" one of the visitors asked the tour guide when they were out of earshot of the freshmen. The guide replied, "One."
This little story brings up a question in the spiritual realm for us to consider — and this story definitely is not fictional. The question is, how many sacrifices did it take to pay for our sins? The Jews would have needed lots of pencils and clipboards to make the calculation. "So, let's see: take all the sin offerings, all the guilt offerings, the bulls, the goats, the lambs, the turtledoves..."
So, how many sacrifices did it take? The answer: only one.
“For it was indeed fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners and exalted above the heavens. He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people, since he did this once for all when he offered up himself” (Hebrews 7:26-27).
Jewish high priests, functioning under the Law of Moses weren’t able to offer a “once for all” sacrifice in the Holy of Holies in the tabernacle, and later the temple. They were sinful and were required to offer annual sacrifices for both the Israelites and themselves.
The New Testament letter of Hebrews, written to salvage the faith of Jewish Christian tempted to return to Judaism and its system of animal sacrifices. The unknown yet inspired author of this wonderful treatise on the superiority of Christian faith wrote for our benefit also. Like those Jewish high priests, we aren’t in the business of offering sin-forgiving sacrifices. But Jesus’ sacrifice, because he, as the Son of God, was “holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens,” was able to forgive sins.
After untold thousands of sacrificial animals had been offered, Jesus Christ gave his own life on the cross, “once for all.” Only then could it be said, "It is finished." (John 19:30).
The sacrifices of Christians — our bodies — are living and holy. When offered in faithfulness, they are acceptable to God and serve as a form of spiritual adoration and devotion to him (Romans 12:1).