We are studying Hebrews 9:11-22 for Sunday, June 16. [Study notes on the text are here.] Here are a few questions about the text that we might want to consider before class, or together in class:

In vv13-14, the imagery of the “ashes of a heifer” refers to ritual purification of people who have come in contact with the dead. [See Numbers 19.] This helps explain the reference to purifying the “conscience from dead works to worship the living God” in v14. The “dead works” themselves also seem [to me] to have a ritual reference. Do we think our consciences are ever … affected by … “dead works” these days? How, do we think? And how would that interfere with worshipping “the living God,” do we think?

Do we ourselves think of God as “living”? What does that mean to us? What are the implications of God being “living,” do we think?

Verse 15 refers to Christ as a “mediator.” How do we understand the term “mediator”? When in our experience is a mediator needed? How does that affect the way we understand this text? (For example, what image or images do we have of Jesus Christ “mediating” this covenant?)

How does this image of Christ as a mediator affect our understanding of ourselves? How does it affect our understanding of God?

Christians typically pray “through Christ” or “in the name of Christ.” What connection do we see between that practice and this idea of Christ as a “mediator”?

The earliest readers of this text would have been very familiar with the purity system of ancient Israelite religion.

Does our own culture have a purity system, do we think? How would we describe it – that is, what things do we think of as “pure”? What makes people and things “pure”? What things are “impure,” and what makes people and things “impure”?

How do our present-day ideas of purity and impurity seem to affect the way we understand this text?

How do our present-day ideas of purity and impurity affect the way we think about our own relationship with Jesus Christ, or with “the living God”?

Painting of figures in a conversation