Once. For. All.
Likely the most memorable quote from “The Three Musketeers” is the motto: “all for one and one for all.” But long before Dumas ever penned those words in association with the musketeers, a similar sounding (but different) sentiment was found richly rooted in scripture. Five times, the life and death of Jesus is spoken of as a “once for all” occasion (Rom. 6:10; Heb. 7:27; 9:12, 26; 10:10). Consider the gravity of this three-word statement:
Under the Law of Moses, the High Priest was first required to bring a sacrifice for himself, and then he could make the sin offering for the people (Heb. 7:27; Lev. 16:1-31). But our sinless High Priest didn’t need to offer a “pre-sacrifice” before the “real” sacrifice. In this regard, he only had to make a sacrifice once.
Additionally, the sin offering was to be made year…after year…after year (Ex. 30:10; Lev. 16:34). Because the blood of animals isn’t capable to take away sin, this meant that there were thousands of sacrificial animals over the centuries (Heb. 10:4). But even an infinite supply of sacrificial animals would still never be enough. Jesus’ blood is different – it’s sufficient! His blood is fully capable of atoning for my sins! Whereas hundreds of animals were needed previously, a better sacrifice was only needed to be sought out once – Jesus was the only one that was needed!
Furthermore, there is also no need for Jesus to be offered as the same sacrifice, again and again (Heb. 9:26-28). He was the only sacrifice needed and His sacrifice was only needed once to do the job. Though He resurrected, never again will Jesus need to suffer and die on my behalf. Though new sins are committed every day, never again will Jesus’ blood need to be spilled to wash away those sins. His spilling of blood was needed once (Rom. 6:9-10), and it continually “cleanses us from all sin” (1 Jn. 1:7).
Sadly, Jesus died “for” or, “because of” me. It is my fault, and yours, that Jesus had to endure the cross. Because a Holy God demands punishment of sin, Jesus stood as a propitiation – a way to appease God’s wrath (Rom. 3:25). If it wasn’t for our sins, Jesus would never have had to die.
Moreover, Jesus died “for” or, “in place of” me. Jesus’ sacrifice is substitutionary (1 Pet. 3:18). Like a substitute teacher stands in for the regular teacher, so Jesus endured the cross for me – in my place. I was guilty and deserved punishment, but Jesus stood in for me.
Amazingly, Jesus died “for” or, “in exchange of” me. Just as money is exchanged for goods, Jesus endured punishment for my redemption. He exchanged his life for mine – He experienced physical death for the right to buy me back out of spiritual death. He loved me so much that he saw his blood as equal currency to my salvation (Acts 20:28); just as a buyer sees his purchase as equal to the currency that he gives in exchange for it.
Jesus died for all in that he died for every person (2 Cor. 5:15). There’s not a single human being that Jesus didn’t die for. Not only was his sacrifice sufficient as the only one needed, but it was the only one needed for every human being to ever walk the face of the earth. Some estimate that over 100 billion people have lived over the course of time. Jesus’ death was offered on behalf of every single one of them. What’s more, His death has established a monopoly on all roads that lead to salvation – there’s just one, through the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 4:12).
Jesus also died for all in that he died for every sin. It is promised to us that “if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 Jn. 1:9). There’s not a sin that we can commit that Jesus’ sacrifice is not powerful enough to blot out. There’s not a sin that we can commit that Jesus’ grace and heart is not willing to forgive.
Jesus died for all in that the power of His death lasts into every moment in time (Heb. 9:12). His perfect sacrifice obtained redemption for me, eternally. Forever is my salvation secure because of Him. No one and nothing, except my own stubborn rebellion, can pluck me from His hand (Rom. 8:35-39).
One for all: what an amazing thought. In return, may we be all for One.