“Jesus lives forever, his priesthood lasts forever.”
Candle Lighter: “He is the kind of high priest we need…”
Response: “…because he is holy and blameless.”
Scripture: Hebrews 7:23 -8:6
23 There were many priests under the old system, for death prevented them from remaining in office. 24 But because Jesus lives forever, his priesthood lasts forever. 25 Therefore he is able, once and forever, to save those who come to God through him. He lives forever to intercede with God on their behalf.
26 He is the kind of high priest we need because he is holy and blameless, unstained by sin. He has been set apart from sinners and has been given the highest place of honor in heaven. 27 Unlike those other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices every day. They did this for their own sins first and then for the sins of the people. But Jesus did this once for all when he offered himself as the sacrifice for the people’s sins. 28 The law appointed high priests who were limited by human weakness. But after the law was given, God appointed his Son with an oath, and his Son has been made the perfect High Priest forever.
8 Here is the main point: We have a High Priest who sat down in the place of honor beside the throne of the majestic God in heaven. 2 There he ministers in the heavenly Tabernacle, the true place of worship that was built by the Lord and not by human hands.
3 And since every high priest is required to offer gifts and sacrifices, our High Priest must make an offering, too. 4 If he were here on earth, he would not even be a priest, since there already are priests who offer the gifts required by the law. 5 They serve in a system of worship that is only a copy, a shadow of the real one in heaven. For when Moses was getting ready to build the Tabernacle, God gave him this warning: “Be sure that you make everything according to the pattern I have shown you here on the mountain.”
6 But now Jesus, our High Priest, has been given a ministry that is far superior to the old priesthood, for he is the one who mediates for us a far better covenant with God, based on better promises.
(I would encourage you to read all of chapter 7 and 8 to gain a better context.)
Reader: The word of the Lord.
Response: Thanks be to God.
I’d like to stay with this idea of Jesus as our High Priest a little longer…as that is our passage in Hebrews! Most of us are familiar with the “priesthood of believers,” one of the significant concepts and realities to come out of the Reformation. But let’s back up a bit. A quick review. Priests had to be from the tribe of Levi. They had to be from the family of Aaron. The High Priest was appointed by God, not by lot. They served their entire lifetime. Their first sacrifice was for their own sins and then for the sins of their family, and then for the sins of the people. Sacrifices were offered daily, morning and evening. The Hebrew Bible had three separate primary offices: prophet, priest, and king. Three different roles; three different people. In Psalm 110:4 the psalmist prophesied concerning the Messiah, “You are a priest forever in the order of Melchizedek.” Back in Genesis we have the account of Abraham offering a tithe to Melchizedek, a non-Jew, who was both priest and king of Jerusalem. This passage in Hebrews makes clear that Jesus is an eternal High Priest on the order of Melchizedek. Jesus was appointed by God, but he was from the tribe of Judah not Levi nor Aaron’s lineage. Yet, Jesus fulfilled the role perfectly. He was sinless, so he did not have to offer sacrifices repeatedly every morning and evening. He fulfilled all three roles as Prophet (fulfilled all O.T. prophecy), Priest (eternal in the order of Melchizedek-for all peoples, not just Jews), and King (from the line of king David) forever. He was completely human to represent all peoples, nations, and tribes, and he was completely divine, bringing perfect holiness to the sacrifice. Rather than a priest who dare not sit down in the Tabernacle or Temple―a shadowy copy of the heavenly sanctuary― Jesus sat down at the right hand of the Father in the heavenly sanctuary, (one built by God, not by humans), indicating the sacrificial system was fulfilled completely. It is in this situation that Jesus mediates before the Father on our behalf. His mediation began in a stable in a little village just outside Jerusalem, Israel. And his intercession continues in a world we cannot currently see even as you read this. The day is coming when we shall see him face to face, our Prophet, Priest, and King. For some of us, it may be this coming year. Advent reminds us to watch and wait. In the meantime, talk to your High Priest often. He understands completely everything you are dealing with today. “Christ the babe was born for you.”
Music: “Infant Lowly, Infant Holy” University of Utah Chamber Choir
Everlasting Creator―Father, I have destroyed myself, my nature is defiled, the powers of my soul are degraded; I am vile, miserable, strengthless, but my hope is in thee. If ever I am saved, it will be by goodness undeserved and astonishing, not by mercy alone but by abundant mercy, not by grace but by exceeding riches of grace; and such thou hast revealed, promised, exemplified in thoughts of peace not of evil. Thou hast devised means to rescue me from sin’s perdition, to restore me to happiness, honor, safety. I bless thee for the everlasting covenant, for the appointment of a Mediator. I rejoice that he failed not, nor was discouraged, but accomplished the work thou gavest him to do; and said on the cross, ‘It is finished.’ I exult in the thought that thy justice is satisfied, thy truth established, thy law magnified, and a foundation is laid for my hope. I look to a present and personal interest in Christ and say, surely he has borne my griefs, and carried my sorrows, won my peace, healed my soul. Justified by his blood I am saved by his life, glorying in his cross I bow to his sceptre, having his Spirit I possess his mind. Lord, grant that my faith in you may not be occasional and partial, but universal, influential, effective, and may I always continue in thy words as well as thy works, so that I may reach my end in peace. Amen.
― The Valley of Vision, p.40
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