The Assistance to Endure
May the grace of God our Father and our High Priest Jesus Christ sustain you as your endure, waiting patiently for His return
If Life Were Only Like a Commercial
Wouldn’t it be great if life were like the way it is pictured in commercials? For example, if we get ourselves into trouble wouldn’t it be great to be able to sing a little tune, and in a split second an angel would appear! He would be ready to cut a check, to do whatever it took to make things appear like new?
Wouldn’t it be great to have someone to act as our agent, our friend? Wouldn’t it be nice to have someone act our advocate, and to intercede with everything involved, till everything was restored as best it could be?
It would be an amazing thing if such were possible.
It would make life a lot easier when we got into trouble, we knew we could call out, and we would be heard. Knowing that, we could simply rest, confident in the one God sent to take care of us, to make everything work out for good.
As the author of Hebrews describes the high priesthood, he is describing such a role. The High priest who is our advocate, the intercessor, the one assigned to be the mediator who would make everything work.
That is the role of Jesus, for He is who the Father chose to care for us, to help us endure this life.
He deals gently… yet
In the job description of the high priest, our intercessor, our mediator, there is an interesting comment. It is both a bit challenging and yet, very comforting. Let me read it again,
2 And he is able to deal gently with ignorant and wayward people because he himself is subject to the same weaknesses. Hebrews 5:2 (NLT)
Hmmm. How many of us like to be described as wayward or ignorant?
It is hard to admit we are ignorant. That we don’t know what is good, or what is best for us. After all, who knows us better than us?
Well, yes besides our wives.
And yeah, God too!
That’s the point, it isn’t too easy to admit that we don’t know. We like to be the experts, seen as the experts, We are not, and when we act in ignorance, without God’s counsel, we often find ourselves sinning.
We do things we don’t know are wrong or we don’t want to admit are wrong. We fall prey to sin, and to Satan. We need to admit that, acknowledge that we don’t know it all and let our high priest intercede.
The other challenge is that we do go astray. The word is a passive very, we are led off course, we find ourselves lost, unable to go the way God would have us go.
Neither ignorance nor getting lost is a valid excuse. Being separated from God is being separated.
It is hard to admit that, for most of us are quite proud of our knowledge, or that we don’t need to ask for directions. Some of us are stubborn, and the more we see that we need help, the more stubborn we get.
Ignorant and lost, we need someone to help. Someone wise enough to bring us back on track, someone we can trust, someone who has been through what we’ve been through. Someone who can find us, and gently show us the way back.
Someone who is able to deal with us gently, even when we are caught up in our ignorance, even when we are wayward and lost.
Someone God qualifies and equips to do that very thing; who is precise as He compassionately works on our behalf. Someone who will intercede and is willing to pay the cost.
Do We Realize the Cost He paid?
I think we need to take time to read another part of the passage again,
7 While Jesus was here on earth, he offered prayers and pleadings, with a loud cry and tears, to the one who could rescue him from death. And God heard his prayers because of his deep reverence for God. 8 Even though Jesus was God’s Son, he learned obedience from the things he suffered. Hebrews 5:7-8 (NLT)
We know Jesus cried, for he cries over Jerusalem, and at the death of Lazarus.
Yet to realize that He would cry out to the Father, is more challenging. To see him escape the crowds from weariness, from knowing the suffering, He would pray, crying out to the Father. And He would endure, for them. Even more perhaps for us, who understand what the cross is, and why he would cry in the Garden of Gethsemane.
Jesus heard the Father’s desire for us to become the Father’s. He knew the desire of God, and lived it out, fully man, and fully God, caring gently for those broken by disobedience, and ever those who wondered off, distracted by life.
Even as he cries in the garden, for the Father to take away the trauma that was coming yet was as sure to him as Judas’s betrayal. As sure as our own betrayal. He still endured.
For the joy set before Him, this letter to Jewish Christians will tell us. He endured all the pain, all the suffering. He endures and
9 … became the source of eternal salvation for all those who obey him. Hebrews 5:9 (NLT)
The Arch-hierus… a Testimony to His Assistance
It is amazing to see how complete Christ’s rescue is, to see how great this salvation is.
For God takes the ignorant and the wayward, and binds them to Christ.
We will talk about it more in our Bible Study; for in that rescue, in our being joined to Jesus, we are given the gift of the Holy Spirit. And as God cleanses us in baptism, we take on the priesthood with Him.
You see, the title high priest, is actually “first priest” or lead priest, the one from whom all other ministry is given.
You and I, and now, little Jason, are to follow Jesus’ lead as God’s priests. We will learn to deal gently with those who are ignorant of God’s love and mercy, and with those who have wandered off, and been led away from God. We may even embrace some suffering in order to accomplish God’s will. We will learn to love as Jesus love’s, to hear God’s desire to bring others into the family, as Jesus heard.
That is the transformation of the Gospel, the work of our high priest, the one anointed by God, to be our Savior, our Lord, our High Priest. To bring us into the peace of God and make our hearts and minds safe, for we dwell in Him.
What Child is this?
The One Who Would Die,
That Others Might Live…
John 11:17-27, 38-53
In Jesus Name
May the grace of God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ be well known by you, bringing you great peace and joy as you know the depth of His love.
There are Sundays were the sermon develops simply, where there is only one point to the reading, only one lesson to learn about the depth of God’s love. Here, in this reading, there are a number of sermons that could be given.
One about God’s love, as we see in revealed in Jesus’ interaction with Martha,
Or God’s love, that would weep over the depth of a friend, and then raise him back to life.
Or one of my favorites, as we look at Caiaphas, the high priest, who like a hostile witness in court, still proclaims the truth…about the depth of God’s love – and doesn’t even know it.
As I prepared for this day, with the children singing, the words at the end of the reading kept coming to the front of my mind,
“he did not say this on his own, as the high priest at that time, he was led to prophesy that Jesus would die for that entire nation, Not only for that nation, but to bring together and unite all the children of God, scattered around the world….”
We see God’s heart, at the depth of that plan, to bring together and unite al the children of God, scattered around the world.
One of the things we talk about here, is that church is often a foretaste of the glory of heaven. Not the building, but the people, the mercy, the love….as we sing together, as we heard God’s words, revealing His love, we place before God our burdens, as we share in the Lord’s Supper, this is all a little taste of heaven.
It just seems right then, that the voices of children we hear sing are from many cultures, from all over the world, the children whom Jesus came to make His own, just as He came to make us His own… people from all over this globe, just as heaven will be people from every nation, of every language, of every ethnicity. Today’s sermon is about how He planned and did this very thing!
These passages during this church season, what we call lent, help us get ready for Easter. They help us become more and more aware of God’s plan from the very beginning, was to be with us, to bring light and love into our world, which often lacks it.
Such as this prophesy of Caiaphas, which would point to the long awaited glory of Israel being revealed, and the hope of all peoples. The High-Priest, the head of all things religious, who studied the scriptures, said words that were so accurate, that He didn’t see it.
He said, “’You don’t know what you’re talking about! 50 You don’t realize that it’s better for you that one man should die for the people than for the whole nation to be destroyed.’” John 11:49-50 (NLT)
It was just to be just Caiaphas had prophesied. But he was by no means the first. Some 700 years before Caiaphas said those words, another prophet by the name of Isaiah put it together, a little more carefully:
10 But it was the LORD’s good plan to crush him and cause him grief. Yet when his life is made an offering for sin, he will have many descendants. He will enjoy a long life, and the LORD’s good plan will prosper in his hands. 11 When he sees all that is accomplished by his anguish, he will be satisfied. And because of his experience, my righteous servant will make it possible for many to be counted righteous, for he will bear all their sins. Isaiah 53:10-11 (NLT)
It is the same thought – but where as Caiaphas thought the death of Jesus would save a problem with the Romans, it would do so much more, saving people from our rebellion against God, our sin.
When during our time of confession and absolution earlier, I mentioned that God daily and richly forgives our sins and grants us new life, those are not just mere words. They are what we believe, what we count upon each day.
But we realize as well, and take great joy in the knowledge that this has been God’s plan from the beginning, that Jesus, the one, would die that all the children of God would never fear the power of sin, that is, that death would somehow be the end.
Isaiah talks of this in words that are interesting – that because the righteous servant, by experiencing death, would make it possible for many to be counted right. Simply because Jesus bears our sin, the grief, the guilt, the pain, the shame, and yes, the penalty for what we’ve done wrong.
Because of that action, he does save us, God’s people, all who trust in Him, from every corner of this planet, from every people group, from Asia, from the Middle East, from South America, and Europe, and even LA and the OC.
That’s been His plan, from before the foundations of the world, a plan we see, even as we look at the children’s smiles, as we heard their voices praising God this morning
There is a last lesson here. That I need to make absolutely clear to each and everyone of us. Some because we think we’ve gone too far from God. That might be worried about someone they think is gone to far from God…or in either case, lost hope for God to be able to work in their lives.
Hear Jesus prayer, to the Father…
40 Jesus responded, “Didn’t I tell you that you would see God’s glory if you believe?” 41 So they rolled the stone aside. Then Jesus looked up to heaven and said, “Father, thank you for hearing me. 42 You always hear me, but I said it out loud for the sake of all these people standing here, so that they will believe you sent me.” John 11:40-42 (NLT)
That of course, is the challenge, this idea of trusting God. Martha couldn’t even begin to conceive of what Jesus was telling her, that in a mere moment, with a cry, her brother would be returned to her and Mary.
In the same way, when we talk about eternity, about the finality of death, it is hard to see beyond the tomb. Yet God is here, just as He was there. Martha trusted in Jesus for the harder miracle, the resurrection from the dead, for all eternity.
It is why Jesus came, why he was born of Mary, and laid in a manger.
So that people would hear God’s love..
The same Child, was the one who would be nailed to the cross….
And rise from the dead, and ascend to heaven…..
So that we would know the Father sent Jesus… and sent Him that we would know the incredible depth of God’s love…..
for us, for those we love…. For those still, no matter what language they speak, no matter where they were born, no matter their culture.
For in Christ’s death, we find ourselves alive, in a relationship with God… rejoicing in His mercy, and given His peace.
A peace that is beyond all understanding, guarding our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.