We have an altar, whereof they have no right to eat which serve the tabernacle.
I. OUR CHRISTIAN ALTAR. The very living heart of the gospel is an altar and a sacrifice. That idea saturates the whole New Testament, from the page where John the Forerunner's proclamation is, "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world," to the last triumphant visions in which the Apocalyptic seer "beheld a Lamb as it had been slain," the eternal Co-Regnant of the universe, and the Mediator through whom the whole surrounding Church for ever worships the Father. Jesus Christ is all which temple, priest, altar, sacrifice proclaimed should one day be. And just as the relation between Christ's work and the Judaic system of external ritual sacri-rices is that of shadow and substance, prophecy and fulfilment, so, in analogous manner, the relation between the altar and sacrifice of the New Testament and all the systems of heathenism, with their smoking altars, is that these declare a want, and this affords its supply; that these are the confession of humanity that it is conscious of sin, separation, alienation, and the need of a sacrifice, and that Christ is what heathenism in all lands has wailed that it needs, and has desperately hoped that it might find. Christ in His representative relation, in His true affinity to every man upon earth, has in His life and death taken upon Himself the consequences of human transgression, not merely by sympathy, nor only by reason of the uniqueness of His representative relation, but by willing submission to that awful separation from the Father, of which the cry out of the thick darkness of the Cross, "Why hast Thou forsaken Me?" is the unfathomable witness. Thus, bearing our sin, He bears it away, and " we have an altar."
II. OUR FEAST ON THE SACRIFICE. The Christ who died for my sins is not only my means of reconciliation with God, but His sacrifice and death are the sustenance of my spiritual life. The life of the Christian is the indwelling Christ. But how is that feeding on the sacrifice accomplished? "He that eateth Me, even he shall live by Me." He that believeth, eateth. He that with humble faith makes Christ his very own, and appropriates as the nourishment and basis of his own better life the facts of that life and death of sacrifice, he truly lives thereby. To eat is to believe; to believe is to live. I need not remind you how, though there be no reference in the words of my text, as I have tried to show, to the external rite of the communion of the Lord's body and blood, and though " altar:' here has no reference whatever to that table, yet there is a connection between the two representations, inasmuch as the one declares in words what the other sets forth in symbol, and the meaning of the feast on the sacrifice is expressed by this great word. "This is My body, broken for you." "This is the new covenant in My blood." "Drink ye all of it."
III. OUR CHRISTIAN OFFERINGS ON THE ALTAR. What are these offerings? Christ's death stands alone, incapable of repetition, needing no repetition, the eternal, sole, "sufficient obligation and satisfaction for the sins of the whole world." But there be other kinds of sacrifice. There are sacrifices of thanksgiving as well as for propitiation. And we, on the footing of that great sacrifice to which we can add nothing, and on which alone we must rest, may bring the offerings of our thankful hearts. These offerings are of a twofold sort, says the writer. There are words of praise, there are works of beneficence. The service of man is sacrifice to God.
(A. Maclaren, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: We have an altar, whereof they have no right to eat which serve the tabernacle.