Hebrews 9:22–26 — And according to the Law, one may almost say, all things are cleansed with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. 23 Therefore it was necessary for the copies of the things in the heavens to be cleansed with these, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. 24 For Christ did not enter a holy place made with hands, a mere copy of the true one, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us; 25 nor was it that He would offer Himself often, as the high priest enters the holy place year by year with blood that is not his own. 26 Otherwise, He would have needed to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now once at the consummation of the ages He has been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.
We are considering how it is that the Table proclaims to us that there is salvation only in the Lord Jesus Christ. We have already seen how Christ came in fulfillment of all the prophecies that God had given concerning the Savior He would send, and it would seem strange that He went to all this trouble to direct us to Christ if in fact there were many ways through which salvation might be obtained.
The writer to the Hebrews gives us another very strong reason in the text above, however. We can know from the ceremonial system that was established under the Old Covenant that the sins we have committed against God cost us our lives - physically and spiritually (and just as God had warned Adam in the garden of Eden - that if he took the forbidden fruit and ate it, he would surely die - Genesis 2:17). Paul confirms that the sentence of death has been passed upon all of Adam's descendants on account of his sin by declaring that the wages we receive for our sin is death (Romans 6:23). And so the sacrificial system that was put in place through Moses required that the lives of animals had to be given in order to make atonement for the sins of God's people, which had merited their death.
God had already indicated that the life of a creature is in its blood (Leviticus 17:11) and so the blood of slain animals was used in token of their lives to atone for sin and to make God's people outwardly clean in His sight. In our text, then, the writer to the Hebrews confirms that sin is so serious that life must be forfeit if it is to be atoned for - without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness of sin.
Since this is the situation we are in before God from a judicial perspective (our lives forfeit because of the sins we have committed) it follows that any proposed path of salvation that does not entail the death of a substitute in our place simply cannot be effective. Therefore we can immediately discount all those alleged paths to eternal life that do not entail a blood sacrifice to atone for sin - they simply cannot work.
We recoil from such thoughts in our so-called civilized society, but this is largely because sin itself has robbed us of any sense of the horror of sin and the infinite debt that we owe to God because of our rebellion against Him. If we were able to comprehend these things, we would more readily see the need for a sacrifice to make peace with God on account of our sins.
The Table reminds us each time we approach it that blood was indeed shed - that a life was indeed forfeit in order to provide a full and free salvation to those who will turn from sin and trust the Savior (and His sacrifice) alone. We should rejoice in such a reminder!