The Perfect Priest
Greetings in Jesus’ name.
I pray that your new year is off to a great start. We will continue talking about Jesus today, again from the book of Hebrews. Socially, economically, and culturally we are dealing with a great deal of change in our world today. Specifically, a great deal of negative change. I don't need to get into details, for it will just depress the lot of us. So, instead, allow me to talk about a change that occurred a couple of thousand years ago that will inspire us with hope to deal with the challenges that we are facing today.
We can all agree, prayerfully, that the world changed for the better when Christ came into this world as the babe in the manger. Jesus brought with him forgiveness of sins and salvation to all people who would seek him as their savior. Christ walked the earth during his ministry years, healing and curing people, teaching us how to share the love of God and the Good News. All of this was an earth-shattering change. With his death and resurrection upon the cross, Jesus brought forth more change. The change was this, Jesus had become our high priest and with him had come a new covenant, a better covenant.
As with everything involving Jesus, it is all part of God’s plan. We will begin today in Jeremiah, a generation after Isaiah, God speaking through the prophet Jeremiah, letting us in on his plans. While not naming Jesus specifically, God is telling us in no uncertain terms, that he will make a new covenant. Jeremiah 31:31-34,
“The time is coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to them,” declares the Lord. “This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time,” declares the Lord. “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,” declares the Lord.
“For I will forgive them their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”
What these words of God spoken by Jeremiah tell us is that God had plans for this new covenant all along. God realized the shortcomings and inefficiencies of the traditional priest's sacrificial atonement of the Law of Moses.
This new covenant will “put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts”. How is this going to happen?
This will be the work of God’s Holy Spirit. John 14:26, Jesus speaking,
“But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.”
Wow, my God knows and understands me. If ever there was a person that needed help remembering, it is me. This is the Holy Spirit putting God’s law in our minds and writing it on our hearts.
God saw the corruption within the Pharisees and the teachers of the law. He saw that many people were just giving lip service to his law. They were not changing their sinful behavior, just paying the penalty of sacrifice, then continuing on in their sinful and corrupt ways. Also, even the good priests had a problem. Priests were just men, so naturally, they all died.
Gee, you’d get a good priest that wasn’t corrupt, he was devout and dedicated to God, and he would up and die on you. God had a plan, something more was needed. Hebrews 7:23-28,
“Now there have been many of those priests, since death prevented them from continuing in office; but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood (do you see where God’s going with this?). Therefore he is able to save completely (this means forever) those who come to God through him (Jesus), because he always lives to intercede for them. Such a high priest meets our need—one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens. Unlike the other high priests, he does need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself. For the law appoints as high priests men who are weak; but the oath which came after the law, appointed the Son, who has been made perfect forever.”
This is why you and I have immediate access to God. Most of us who already have a relationship with God understand this. However, many people still do not. They believe that they need a priest or a pastor to intercede for them. I am not criticizing this need, I understand the power of intercession. However, it needs to be emphasized, as this scripture is doing, that we all can have instant access to God’s throne of grace where JESUS is our high priest.
We all can go straight to Jesus with our cares and our concerns. God has cut out the middlemen. No Pharisees or Sanhedrin, no priests that keep wearing out and dying. Just straight to the Savior, King, and Lord of all. What a deal. That’s not all either.
Jesus does not need to make any more sacrifices. Because of his holiness, sinless nature, and perfection, his sacrifice was the perfect sacrifice for each and every one of us, no matter what our sins. On top of this, God, through his prophet Jeremiah, promised us that he will remember our sins no more.
This is a show-stopper comment, a mic drop. Think about this for just a second. God has promised us that he will forgive our sins and purposefully forget the sins he forgives us of. This is mind-blowing to me. I never will take this for granted. How can any of us take this for granted? Hebrews 8:1-6,
“The point of what we are saying is this: We do have such a high priest, who sat down at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, and who serves in the sanctuary, the true tabernacle set up by the Lord, not by man. Every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices, and so it was necessary for this one also to have something to offer. If he were on earth, he would not be a priest, for there are already men who offer gifts prescribed by the law. They serve at a sanctuary that is a copy and shadow of what is in heaven.” “This is why Moses was warned when he was about to build the tabernacle: ‘See to it that you make everything according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.’ But the ministry Jesus has received is as superior to theirs as the covenant of which he is mediator is superior to the old one, and it is founded on better promises.”
This last sentence is intriguing to me. …and it is founded on better promises.
Remember these better promises from Jeremiah,
I will put my laws in their minds
And I will write them on their hearts
I will be their God
They will be my people
They will all know me
I will forgive their wickedness
And will remember their sins no more
How can we not love a God willing to reach out to us in this way? Do not take any of this for granted.
Do no harm, do good, and stay in love with God.
and Harmony UMC