The Son (III) – High Priest and Sacrifice.
We are going through our series on the Trinity, and are on the third talk about the Son. We saw two weeks ago that Jesus was fully God and fully human, and so fully experienced everything we have and was without sin. This gave us a confidence to pray to God, knowing that He has “been there, seen it, done it” without sin and could help us, because He KNOWS! A passage in Hebrews explained this:
“Since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Heb 4:14-16)
And then last week we were looking at what it means to be IN Christ, and to receive all the spiritual blessings that God gives. We looked at the boxes which explained about being IN Christ means being IN the Father, with the Spirit IN us, which means we renewed and restored, having peace, joy, grace, forgiveness, security, role and purpose. This is an amazing blessing to live in and give thanks for.
But it is always worth asking – Do we really live in the light of being IN Christ? Do we always really trust that God has forgiven us, restored us and renewed us? Or do we sometime live in the light of the OLD us, not the NEW IN Christ us?
Today we will look at Jesus being the High Priest and Sacrifice, and see how this truth gives us confidence in what He has done.
- Our reading gives the picture of the Jewish Priest and the High Priest. What would their job be? Daily sacrificing animals – there would be blood, guts, mess, fire and smoke, and then they would go home and wash their robes … and then come back and do it all over again.
- They would get to know people who come, every week with their offerings for sin – and know that they will be back next week to offer another. Sometimes they would offer more, sometime less (depending on how things were going!), but as priest you knew they would always be back.
- Then once a year, someone would enter the Holy Of Holies and offer the sacrifice for themselves and all the People of God.
To any Jew reading this, they would see the relentless cycle of animal sacrifice which never actually solved the problem. You and everyone else always came back with more to sacrifice. Into this relentless cycle we read this:
It is by God’s will that we have been sanctified through the offering of the Body of Jesus Christ, once and for all. And every priest stands day after day at his service, offering again and again the same sacrifices that can never take away sins.
But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, “he sat down at the right hand of God,”
Three words are amazing here. HE SAT DOWN. For a Jewish reader, this is massive symbolism.
Other than the mercy seat, there was nowhere for any priest to sit down in work areas of the Temple. There was no place to rest, as it was a place of constant daily work.
Even the annual sacrifice in the Holy of Holies, where the People of God were cleansed of their sins, once he was done, the priest had to leave the presence of God.
For one brief moment the sacrifices for the priest and people were done, and priest was in the Holy of Holies with God – but not for long. The priest had to leave, and left knowing that the next day he would be back in the Temple sacrificing, and next year someone would be back in the Holy Of Holies. Again and again and again.
You could never rest. Then came Christ. …
Christ was the single perfect spotless offering, and once He had offered Himself on the Cross, and every sin of the People of God had been laid on Him – He sat down.
Nothing more to do. Once for all. Once for all. It was now over – forever. No more: Come in and leave, come in and leave, come in and leave. Jesus was never going to have to go back and do it again. So, He sat down in the presence of God, and rested there. His enemies (the power of sin) are defeated, and His people are sanctified. There is nothing more to do. He can now rest, in the peace of God.
Last week we saw we are IN Christ, so we can, IN Him, remain in the presence of God without working or sacrificing and can just rest.
Further, as we know imperfection and un-holiness cannot enter God’s presence, but IN Christ and BY Christ, we are perfected for all time and sanctified by Him. ALL TIME. Not short term, so we have leave the Presence. But ALL TIME. We never have to leave.
Forgiven, sanctified and perfected. Fully.
But there is more than forgiveness. We have new hearts filled with God’s Law – God’s truth – changed by Holy Spirit who now lives in us. We will look more at this over the coming three weeks. And once we have this, nothing else is needed or required. Everything else is superfluous. Do we believe this?
As we respond, keep a few things in mind.
- Where do we doubt what God has done for us?
- Where do we not rest in Him, but need to?
- Where are we running around doing work we do not need to?
- Where do we need to rest in the truth that we are IN Christ, and live in that light?
It is by God’s will that we have been sanctified through the offering of the Body of Jesus Christ, once and for all. And every priest stands day after day at his service, offering again and again the same sacrifices that can never take away sins. But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, “he sat down at the right hand of God,”
and since then has been waiting “until his enemies would be made a footstool for his feet.”
For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are sanctified. And the Holy Spirit also testifies to us, for after saying,
“This is the covenant that I will make with them
after those days, says the Lord:
I will put my laws in their hearts,
and I will write them on their minds,”
He also adds,
“I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.”
Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin.
Therefore, my friends, since we have confidence to enter the sanctuary by the blood of Jesus,
by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain (that is, through his flesh),
and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us approach with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.
Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who has promised is faithful.
And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching.