I remember as a pastors kid getting into the communion leftovers after church. We never had any wine in dad’s church, which was good because on those days I would have been wasted. Before service, the ushers filled plastic cups with grape juice. In the other trays were tiny, unleavened squares of bread. At the time, we had a smaller congregation, so there were always leftovers. As the congregants chatted after church in the parking lot, we helped ourselves to the communion. After sitting through Sunday school, we were starving. We gorged ourselves on the Lord’s table. I think we figured we were doing the church a little favor by cleaning up the mess.
As kids, we were clueless about the immeasurable value of Jesus’ sacrifice and the price he paid. When we saw the communion table, all we saw was food. We treated the symbols of his body and blood as ordinary, worthless things.
The main aim of the book of Hebrews is to encourage new believers to not give up their faith in Jesus in the face of persecution and hardship. To strengthen their commitment, the writer also employs strong words of warning, like Hebrews 10:26-20.
“If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much more severely do you think someone deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified them, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace?”
If profess faith in Jesus, and sit week after week, receiving the knowledge of the truth, and yet continue willfully and deliberately to sin, God isn’t OK with that. It’s like taking your dirty shoe and stepping on the sacrifice Jesus made and treating his precious blood like a piece of trash. It’s an insult to the Spirit of grace. The Message version says it like spitting “on the sacrifice that made you whole.”
Some interpret this passage as addressing those who never experienced authentic, saving faith. Others see it as a warning to would-be backsliders, and Christians abusing the grace of God. While I lean more toward the first group, these words always stir up a desire to live a life that honors the blood Jesus shed (to be continued).