Jesus the Sin Bearer
The Last Will and Testament of Jesus
In our modern world there are many gate ways into a religion. Roman Catholic priests are well known to many of us but we may have met a Buddhist priest or a Hindu guru. Protestant churches have shunned the idea of a priestly class for 500 years, since the Reformation. Psychologists and Psychiatrists are not usually religious but they are often considered gateways to wholeness. Naturopathic doctors and faith healers are available to help us when conventions meds and foods fall short.
Everyone is "religious" but what god are we really serving? The Great God SELF will fail you if you stay there in his territory.
The United States once claimed to be “one nation under God…” --but truth be told we have eased into serving many gods. We don't have strong ties with our past and we resist hierarchies, accountability, and chains of command which could be considered bridges between the material world and the great unknown. The prevailing scientific world view does not consider unseen invisible kingdoms with more order, content and structure compared to our everyday four-dimensional realm.
Followers of Jesus who have sought for ultimate realities still today line up with the Bible and 4000 years of Jewish tradition heralded in the Shema.
But no one, hardly, anyone, reads the Bible anymore, especially the Old Testament. This leaves us way out of touch with ultimate and unseen realities.
Jesus is our archegos--a pioneer and Trail-blazer of a new way through the wilderness of life. Jesus is our Hiding Place. He is not called Savior for no reason! He is not only a general, all-purpose Savior He a Personal Savior. Jesus is my Best Friend. But for now, consider what the New Testament says about Jesus as our Great High Priest.
Probably the most neglected letter in the New Testament is Hebrews. Chapter One is a soaring statement about Jesus similar to Genesis Chapter One, John Chapter One and Revelation One.
Right away in Hebrews Chapter 2 we discover that Jesus is now restoring man's lost dominion on earth. In other words, what we lost in the Fall of Adam is being given back in Jesus. Not everyone is being healed, saved, made whole. God can not violate our freedom to choose! It's easy to end up "left behind!"
A great underutilized resource for all of us Christians is the little-known fact that we have a Great High Priest “…who always lives to make intercession for us.” Hebrews Chapters 4-13 detail His role in our lives. He is not a Levitical priest, His family tree is from the tribe of Judah not Levi. Jesus is on-call 24/7/365.25 and callers are never put on hold.
This man died once and came back from the dead -- He can’t die again. He is the Executor of His own estate. At this very moment He is on duty.
"...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..."
"...Now the main point in what we are saying is this: we have such a high priest, one who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, a minister in the sanctuary and the true tent that the Lord, and not any mortal, has set up. For every high priest is appointed to offer gifts and sacrifices; hence it is necessary for this priest also to have something to offer. Now if he were on earth, he would not be a priest at all, since there are priests who offer gifts according to the law. They offer worship in a sanctuary that is a sketch and shadow of the heavenly one; for Moses, when he was about to erect the tent, was warned, ‘See that you make everything according to the pattern that was shown you on the mountain.’ But Jesus has now obtained a more excellent ministry, and to that degree he is the mediator of a better covenant, which has been enacted through better promises... (Hebrews 8:1-6)
"...But when Christ came as a high priest of the good things that have come,then through the greater and perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation), he entered once for all into the Holy Place, not with the blood of goats and calves, but with his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption. For if the blood of goats and bulls, with the sprinkling of the ashes of a heifer, sanctifies those who have been defiled so that their flesh is purified, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to worship the living God!
For this reason he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, because a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions under the first covenant. Where a will is involved, the death of the one who made it must be established. For a will takes effect only at death, since it is not in force as long as the one who made it is alive. Hence not even the first covenant was inaugurated without blood. For when every commandment had been told to all the people by Moses in accordance with the law, he took the blood of calves and goats, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the scroll itself and all the people, saying, ‘This is the blood of the covenant that God has ordained for you.’ And in the same way he sprinkled with the blood both the tent and all the vessels used in worship. Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.
Thus it was necessary for the sketches of the heavenly things to be purified with these rites, but the heavenly things themselves need better sacrifices than these. For Christ did not enter a sanctuary made by human hands, a mere copy of the true one, but he entered into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. Nor was it to offer himself again and again, as the high priest enters the Holy Place year after year with blood that is not his own; for then he would have had to suffer again and again since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the age to remove sin by the sacrifice of himself. And just as it is appointed for mortals to die once, and after that the judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin, but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him..." (Hebrews 9:11-28)
"...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." (Hebrews 10:14-25)
"...Pursue peace with everyone, and the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springs up and causes trouble, and through it many become defiled. See to it that no one becomes like Esau, an immoral and godless person, who sold his birthright for a single meal. You know that later, when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no chance to repent, even though he sought the blessing with tears.
You have not come to something that can be touched, a blazing fire, and darkness, and gloom, and a tempest, and the sound of a trumpet, and a voice whose words made the hearers beg that not another word be spoken to them. (For they could not endure the order that was given, ‘If even an animal touches the mountain, it shall be stoned to death.’Indeed, so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, ‘I tremble with fear.’)But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.
See that you do not refuse the one who is speaking; for if they did not escape when they refused the one who warned them on earth, how much less will we escape if we reject the one who warns from heaven! (Hebrews 12:19-25)
I have sampled Hebrews (above) to draw your attention to a few of the amazing things the author tells us about Jesus as our Great High Priest. Please read the entire letter and let the whole content sink it! We can't get Jesus to be our own private great high priest and confidante on our terms. He can appear to be be aloof and remote. He is holy after all--and we are not. He'll ignore us if we deliberately continue to go our own way. God "says what He means, and means what He says." Israel learned this the hard way! Ezekiel and Jeremiah both saw this. God told Ezekiel:
The word of the LORD came again to me, saying: 'Son of man, when a land sins against Me by persistent unfaithfulness, I will stretch out My hand against it; I will cut off its supply of bread, send famine on it, and cut off man and beast from it. 'Even if these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, they would deliver only themselves by their righteousness,' says the Lord GOD. 'If I cause wild beasts to pass through the land, and they empty it, and make it so desolate that no man may pass through because of the beasts, 'even though these three men were in it, as I live,' says the Lord GOD, 'they would deliver neither sons nor daughters; only they would be delivered, and the land would be desolate.
'Or if I bring a sword on that land, and say, 'Sword, go through the land,' and I cut off man and beast from it, 'even though these three men were in it, as I live,' says the Lord GOD, 'they would deliver neither sons nor daughters, but only they themselves would be delivered.
'Or if I send a pestilence into that land and pour out My fury on it in blood, and cut off from it man and beast, 'even though Noah, Daniel, and Job were in it, as I live,' says the Lord GOD, 'they would deliver neither son nor daughter; they would deliver only themselves by their righteousness.' For thus says the Lord GOD: 'How much more it shall be when I send My four severe judgments on Jerusalem—the sword and famine and wild beasts and pestilence—to cut off man and beast from it?
'Yet behold, there shall be left in it a remnant who will be brought out, both sons and daughters; surely they will come out to you, and you will see their ways and their doings. Then you will be comforted concerning the disaster that I have brought upon Jerusalem, all that I have brought upon it. 'And they will comfort you, when you see their ways and their doings; and you shall know that I have done nothing without cause that I have done in it,' says the Lord GOD." (Ezekiel 14:12-23)
We are all Accountable for what we know about God! We don't own the "this old house", (our bodies, our habitat, planet Earth). The Owner is very gracious in allowing us to sojourn down here. He does want to get to know us! Jesus told a shocking illustration to the leaders of Israel about how God views reality.
‘Listen to another parable. There was a landowner who planted a vineyard, put a fence around it, dug a wine press in it, and built a watch-tower. Then he leased it to tenants and went to another country. When the harvest time had come, he sent his slaves to the tenants to collect his produce. But the tenants seized his slaves and beat one, killed another, and stoned another. Again he sent other slaves, more than the first; and they treated them in the same way. Finally he sent his son to them, saying, “They will respect my son.” But when the tenants saw the son, they said to themselves, “This is the heir; come, let us kill him and get his inheritance.” So they seized him, threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him. Now when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?’ They said to him, ‘He will put those wretches to a miserable death, and lease the vineyard to other tenants who will give him the produce at the harvest time.’
Jesus said to them, ‘Have you never read in the scriptures: “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; this was the Lord’s doing, and it is amazing in our eyes”? Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that produces the fruits of the kingdom. (Matthew 21:33-43)
All said and done, "Since, then, 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." (Hebrews 4:14-16)
Consider the compassionate heart of Jesus on the night He was betrayed and arrested. His prayer is unbounded by time and space. This unique priestly prayer deserves careful study.
Ray Stedman in The Longest Prayer says, "...it is indeed the longest recorded prayer of our Lord. In it we can discern the inner thoughts of his mind and learn much of his relationship with his Father. But this prayer is also the longest in the scope of time that it covers. It stretches across twenty centuries and includes us as well as the apostles."
Jesus Prays for His Disciples
After Jesus had spoken these words, he looked up to heaven and said, ‘Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son so that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all people, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. I glorified you on earth by finishing the work that you gave me to do. So now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had in your presence before the world existed.
‘I have made your name known to those whom you gave me from the world. They were yours, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything you have given me is from you; for the words that you gave to me I have given to them, and they have received them and know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. I am asking on their behalf; I am not asking on behalf of the world, but on behalf of those whom you gave me, because they are yours. All mine are yours, and yours are mine; and I have been glorified in them. And now I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one. While I was with them, I protected them in your name that you have given me. I guarded them, and not one of them was lost except the one destined to be lost, so that the scripture might be fulfilled. But now I am coming to you, and I speak these things in the world so that they may have my joy made complete in themselves. I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but I ask you to protect them from the evil one. They do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify myself, so that they also may be sanctified in truth.
‘I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. Father, I desire that those also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory, which you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.
‘Righteous Father, the world does not know you, but I know you; and these know that you have sent me. I made your name known to them, and I will make it known, so that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.’ (John 17)
After His return out from among the dead on the day of His resurrection Jesus surprised His disciples big time. He said four times as He was headed to Jerusalem to be betrayed and killed, but they denied this each time. True to His word, He returned from death complete with a new body, with no loss in His true identity the whole time. One illustration of these surprises is found in Luke's gospel:
Now on that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, ‘What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?’ They stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answered him, ‘Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?’ He asked them, ‘What things?’ They replied, ‘The things about Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things took place. Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, and when they did not find his body there, they came back and told us that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but they did not see him.’Then he said to them, ‘Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?’ Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures.
(C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory, and Other Addresses)
I must needs go home by the way of the cross,
There's no other way but this;
I shall ne'er get sight of the gates of light,
If the way of the cross I miss.
I must needs go on in the blood-sprinkled way,
The path that the Savior trod,
If I ever climb to the heights sublime,
Where the soul is at home with God.
The way of the cross leads home,
The way of the cross leads home,
It is sweet to know as I onward go,
The way of the cross leads home.
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