|Sunday School & Bible Class (Sept-May)||9:15 AM|
Jesus Is Our Eternal High Priest
April 1, 2018
Lincoln Heights Lutheran Church
Jesus Is Our Eternal High Priest
Hebrews 7:23–27 (NIV84)
Now there have been many of those priests, since death prevented them from continuing in office; 24 but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. 25 Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them. 26 Such a high priest meets our need—one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens. 27 Unlike the other high priests, he does not 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.
Dear Friends in Christ,
Doctor Smith has taken care of your family for years. Doctor Smith knows all the family history, has seen you and your children through many sickness and accidents. But now Doctor Smith is retiring. Who will take care of your family now that Doctor Smith is done? It can be a little scary when someone you trust with your life is no longer around. It can also be scary when you move on and the person you trust stays put. You have an amazing 4th grade year at school. The teacher is wonderful, caring, smart and funny. But this wonderful 4th grade teacher continues to teach 4th grade while you move on to 5th. What will the next year bring? It is hard enough when a trusted physician retires or when you move on from a favorite teacher. But what about when that trusted physician and great teacher dies?
Mary, Mary and Salome faced that reality on the Sabbath as they mourned the death of Jesus. Christ was their Great Physician of body and soul. He cured diseases and forgive sins. He even drove seven demons from Mary Magdalene. But Christ was dead and buried in the tomb. No more Great Physician for the two Marys and Salome. Christ was also their Teacher, their Rabbi. Jesus taught them about the kingdom of God. He taught them about faith and love and forgiveness. He taught them to trust in him for all things. He always had the right answer. But their Teacher’s dead body was sealed in a tomb behind a large stone. No more Teacher.
They had hoped that Jesus was the Christ, their Savior from sin and death. They hoped that he was the great high priest who would intercede with God on their behalf.. The hoped that he would bring them to eternal life. But the Christ was dead and buried. No more Savior.
Mary, Mary and Salome were on their way to finish the preparations for Jesus’ burial early on Sunday morning. Their Physician, Teacher and Savior was dead. All they could do was give him a proper burial. All other hope was lost. But they did not know what you know. They thought Jesus’ body was in the tomb on Sunday morning, but it wasn’t. The angel made the wonderful announcement, “You are looking for Jesus, the Nazarene, who was crucified. He is risen! He is not here.”
Their physician, teacher and high priest is alive! Death cannot stop Jesus from caring for, teaching and interceding for his people. Christ is Our Eternal High Priest. He Lives to Meet Our Need. He Lives to Intercede for Us.
Christ Lives to Meet Our Need
Because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. 25 Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them. 26 Such a high priest meets our need—one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens.
The resurrection of Christ proves that Jesus is exactly what we need. He is all that we need.
The thing that we need most in this world is forgiveness of sins. Sin is turning away from the eternal God. Our lies and half truths are spitting in the face of the Creator. When in arrogance and pride we refuse to admit our sins to God and others we are running from the God who knows all things.
When we think we only need God when things are bad in our earthly life, we do not realize our true need and true problem. Yes, we need God when we are sick. We need God when we lose a job. We need God when our classmates are mean to us. We need God when we are lonely and scared. But we also need Jesus when everything is going well. We still need Jesus when we are in great physical shape, when we get the job promotion, when we are the most popular student in school. Our sin is our greatest need because sin leads to eternal death. We daily sin much and daily need Jesus.
There is no medicine we can take that will remove sin from our hearts. There is no rule we can follow to make up for our sin. But we have a high priest who is the perfect fit for our need – one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners.
Jesus Christ is perfect, without sin. His enemies tried to prove him to be a sinner. They attempted to trap him in his words but could not. They accused him of breaking the commandments, especially the third commandment by healing on the Sabbath. But he was keeping the Sabbath perfectly by doing good and showing mercy. They accused him of blasphemy for claiming to be God’s Son but it is not blasphemy if it is true. They brought false witnesses against him and even the false charges of sin would not stick. Even the Roman Governor, Pilate, repeatedly stated that he found no basis for the charges against Jesus. He is innocent in the eyes of the government and innocent in the eyes of God.
Therefore, Jesus can be our substitute. He can provide the holiness and perfection we lack before God. He can provide the perfect sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God. Christ was set apart from sinners in order to die for sinners. By his death he forgives sins, just what we always need.
By his resurrection he has saved us completely. His resurrection proves that he is truly the eternal Son of God. He was not just a good teacher in this life, but lives forever as the only one to teach the way to the Father. He said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Trust the living Savior. His resurrection also proves that he truly paid for all sin. If Mary, Mary and Salome found Jesus’ body in the tomb on Easter morning all their fears would have been true. They would have been without any hope of forgiveness and life with God forever. But Jesus lives! Paul says, “He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.” Jesus is alive and that means we are not guilty of sin. Jesus resurrection proves that he is our eternal high priest. When our earthly life ends, he will raise us to life again and we will never die.
Christ Lives to Intercede For Us
Because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. 25 Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.
The very first high priest was Aaron, the brother of Moses. Aaron was to bring the sacrifices of the people to God and offer prayers to God on behalf on the people. At one point Aaron literally stood in between God’s wrath and the people who were rebelling against the Lord during Korah’s rebellion. Aaron ran into the midst of the people to stop the plague and the Lord withdrew the plague he sent against the rebels. Aaron interceded for the people many times. But Aaron died and his son took the office of high priest next. And his son after him. For some time the office of high priest was hereditary and the high priest served for life. Would the new high priest care about the people enough to step in between God wrath and the sinful people? At the time of Christ, the high priest was more of a political office. You could get it by bribery, power and political connections with the Roman government. Would such a high priest intercede for the people?
Jesus is our eternal high priest. He lives and therefore does not need to pass on the office of high priest to another. We already know that he stood between us and the wrath of God. He endured all the punishment for sin on the cross. We can be confident that he will continue to intercede for us. He is the eternal high priest.
As such, he sits at the right hand of God and continues to intercede on our behalf. He is our ever-living defense attorney. Christ can always remind his Father that though we have sinned and deserve nothing but eternal punishment, Christ has removed our sin. The debt has been paid and we are not guilty.
As our eternal high priest, Jesus intercedes for us by sending the Holy Spirit to us. Through his Word and Sacraments, the Spirit works to keep us in the one true faith until eternal life. Because Jesus lives, he will continue to do this for us until we see him again in eternal life.
People in our life will come and go. Some will move on from us and we will move on from others. But Jesus lives and we never have to leave him. Jesus lives and he will never leave us. When we sing verse 3 of our closing hymn today, think about your eternal high priest, Jesus Christ. He meets our need for forgiveness with his loving sacrifice. He intercedes for us, feeding us with his Word and seeing us through this life into his arms forever.
He lives to bless me with his love;
He lives to plead for me above.
He lives, my hungry soul to feed;
He lives to help in time of need.
(I Know that My Redeemer Lives, Christian Worship 152, verse 3)