When Jesus died on the cross, He shed the only blood that can purify our consciences—His own (Heb. 9:14). Christ’s death takes away our guilt such that we are now declared righteous in Him and fit to stand in the presence of God (Rom. 3:21–4:25; 2 Cor. 5:21). It also cleanses us from the defilement that sin wreaks on our souls and bodies, progressively in our sanctification and then fully and finally in our glorification (Rom. 6–8). Yet, that is not all that Christ’s death accomplishes. Hebrews 9:15 tells us that because He has shed His blood finally and effectually for sinners, He has been established as “the mediator of a new covenant.” We have already seen in Hebrews 7–8 that Jesus is the new covenant Mediator, but today’s passage makes explicit the means by which He was installed as that Mediator.
Through this new covenant, “those who are called . . . receive the promised eternal inheritance” (Heb. 9:15). This inheritance is everlasting resurrected and glorified life in the presence of God in the new heaven and earth, which is the fullest realization of the promises first made to Abraham millennia ago (Rev. 21; see Gen. 12:1–3; 17:7–8; 22:15–18). Many religious teachers have proclaimed many different ways of being restored to God, but the only way to enjoy eternal blessing is through the death of the Son of God, who offered Himself through the Spirit to the Father for our forgiveness (Heb. 9:14).
It is right to speak of the blessings we receive in Christ as an inheritance because they come to us only through His death. In speaking of these blessings as an inheritance, the author of Hebrews draws an analogy from the human world, for we refer to a gift to others from a person after that person’s death as an inheritance. Typically, this inheritance is stipulated in a will, the provisions of which cannot come into effect until the death of the person who made the will. Using this illustration in Hebrews 9:16–17, the author of Hebrews is telling us that the enactment of the new covenant and its blessings is akin to the enactment of a will’s provisions, for in both cases the death of the testator is required. Probably he uses this analogy because in Greek the word for “covenant”—diathēkē —is used also for a “last will and testament.” Covenants, wills, and deaths of testators are wrapped up in one another. Just as a will’s provisions must be granted when the testator dies, so too must the inheritance come to those for whom Christ died to enact the new covenant.