Sermon for Morning Prayer on Sunday October 25th, 2015, the Twenty-first Sunday after Trinity
The Lessons: Psalm 34:1-8; Job 42:1-6, 10-17; Hebrews 7:23-28
Text: “But this man, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood.
Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.” (Hebrews 7:24-25)
Roger Carswell tells of how he was leading a beach mission with children on the sands of Scarborough, North Yorkshire, when a Royal Air Force Lightning jet flew by, skimming the surface of the sea before it turned and flew inland. A minute or two later it returned and went into a steep incline over Scarborough Castle. He thought the pilot was doing a stunt. Then, to their horror, the plane flipped and dropped to the sea. It crashed less than two hundred yards away from the beach. The pilot was killed.
The next day the newspaper headline on the crash read “Pilot Gives Life to Save Crowds.” The story reported how, when his plane began to fail, the pilot chose not to eject himself and risk having the plane crash onto the crowded beach but instead steered it away from the crowds.
When the pilot climbed into the plane that day, he had no idea he would sacrifice his life to save the crowds on the beach. By contrast, the Lord Jesus Christ deliberately left heaven and came to earth with the express intention of going to a death that would save so many from eternal hell.
– Roger Carswell, How Small a Whisper (Kregel, 2000)
The resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ from the dead shows that God the Father was pleased with the sacrifice of His Son for the redemption of the world, and that sacrifice reconciled to God for all time everyone who comes to faith in Him. The risen Lord Jesus Christ intercedes continually for every believer on the basis of his own atoning death.
HEBREWS 7: THE ETERNAL PRIESTHOOD OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST
The writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews makes the clear distinction between the eternal priesthood of the Lord Jesus Christ and the temporary Levitical priesthood. The Jewish Law made provision for the latter priesthood, but it is the word of God’s oath that appoints God’s only-begotten Son a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek (Hebrews 7:11, 15, 17,21, 28; Ps. 110:4). The Lord Jesus Christ’s offering of himself once for all upon the cross to redeem the world from sin is the only eternally valid and sufficient sacrifice for men’s sin, since He alone is God and man, and the only One who is “holy, harmless, undefiled and separate from sinners” (Hebrews 7:26). Unlike the mortal Levitical priests, this High Priest, Jesus Christ, died once as an offering for sinful humanity, and now lives forever in God’s presence. This means that His priesthood is eternal, everlasting, since He is able to save completely everyone who comes to God through faith in Him, as He lives forever to intercede for them.
THE IMPLICATIONS OF CHRIST’S PERPETUAL INTERCESSION FOR HIS CHURCH
Sometimes people think of God as their accuser and judge before whom they have no hope, but here in the Epistle to the Hebrews Christians receive this revelation that the Lord Jesus Christ is continually interceding for them, praying for them until the Day of complete sanctification and perfection, when He returns in glory to receive His Church as a bridegroom receives his bride on the wedding day. Between now and then in our lives, a great deal of sanctification, or perfecting, needs to take place, and we must co-operate with the Holy Spirit in this process.
When St. Peter writes, “But the end of all things is at hand; be ye therefore sober and watch unto prayer” (1 Peter 4:7), he draws our attention to the Day of the Lord, and to the call to a prayerful, devout life in which we conform ourselves more fully to the Lord’s example day by day. The past years of our lives have been sufficient for disobedient living, he explains. Now is the time for prayerful, watchful obedience!
The Lord Jesus Christ’s intercession for all Christians is a very encouraging fact. Whatever trials, griefs, difficulties or adversities each one faces, he should know that the Lord Jesus is praying for him to be victorious, and overcome all. The Lord Jesus also prays for the will and attitude of each of us to be aligned with God’s will and purpose.
We know how important wheel alignment is for a motor vehicle. If the vehicle’s wheels aren’t aligned correctly, tires wear unevenly and become worn much sooner than they otherwise would.
Similarly, if Christians do not align their will with God’s will, they run the risk of spiritual exhaustion or spiritual error. All of us must take care to align our wills with God’s will daily, and for this purpose also, I believe the Lord Jesus intercedes for us all. St. Paul prays for the Ephesian Christians that God may give them the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, and that their understanding may be illumined, so that they may know the hope of God’s calling, and the riches of His glorious inheritance (Eph. 1:17-18). This is a prayer of alignment with God’s will and purpose, the very kind of prayer the Lord Jesus prays in His intercession for each of us.
Knowing that the Lord Jesus Christ intercedes with God continually for each one of us, how should we live our lives? Should we live in despair and discouragement, tossed around on the waves of our lives’ circumstances? By no means!
We should live in eagerness to do the will of God, to walk in obedience to him! We should read and study the Bible to learn how to conform our lives to the excellent example set by the Lord Jesus Christ. We should listen to God speaking to us when we have quietened our souls in His presence. We should rejoice that we have a Savior who lives forever and intercedes for us continually! Finally, we should do all we can by the grace of the Holy Spirit to live in such a way that our lives themselves are sacrifices of thanksgiving and praise to the Lord, reflecting the power of His intercession for us.