Monday morning, September 13, 2010
(Disclaimer: These notes are an attempt to capture the main points of the speaker; mistakes are inevitable and I’m certain not every word and phrase was captured exactly.)
Living the God Centered Life isn’t as simple as it sounds as we set out to do it.
Prayer, evangelism difficult; it also might be the case that when it comes to our own sanctification that we can shift from being God centered to being man centered. We can begin to think that our sanctification depends upon our performance.
Consider Hebrews Chapter 7, Jesus our great high priest. Why he is a superior priest to all other priests? This was written with a pastoral concern for believers who were tempted to turn back to following the law.
In Hebrews 1-7, the author is making his case, demonstrating that Jesus is better. Greater than angels, Moses, a better Sabbath rest. In Chapter 4:14 the writer introduces the idea that Jesus is a better priest. “Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are--yet was without sin. (Hebrews 4:14-15, NIV)
Then in Chapter 5:5 we’re introduced to a priest in the order of Melchizedek. Just the name of Melchizedek makes me humble.
In 4:14 the believers are experiencing a crisis of confidence. Then in Chapter 6 he digresses about apostasy. Then in Chapter 7 he confronts questions about Jesus being a better priest. Namely, how can Jesus be our great high priest when he’s not descended from Levi? Why do we even need a better high priest when the law doesn’t mention one?
Why does this matter for us?
I. How can Jesus be our great high priest when he’s not descended from Levi?
This Melchizedek was king of Salem and priest of God Most High. He met Abraham returning from the defeat of the kings and blessed him, 2 and Abraham gave him a tenth of everything. First, his name means "king of righteousness"; then also, "king of Salem" means "king of peace." 3 Without father or mother, without genealogy, without beginning of days or end of life, like the Son of God he remains a priest forever.7:4 Just think how great he was: Even the patriarch Abraham gave him a tenth of the plunder! 5 Now the law requires the descendants of Levi who become priests to collect a tenth from the people--that is, their brothers--even though their brothers are descended from Abraham. 6 This man, however, did not trace his descent from Levi, yet he collected a tenth from Abraham and blessed him who had the promises. 7 And without doubt the lesser person is blessed by the greater. 8 In the one case, the tenth is collected by men who die; but in the other case, by him who is declared to be living. 9 One might even say that Levi, who collects the tenth, paid the tenth through Abraham, 10 because when Melchizedek met Abraham, Levi was still in the body of his ancestor. (NIV)
This is an argument about how Jesus can be the high priest. The key principle is found in verses 6-7. In biblical times, the blessing was always passed from the greater to the lesser. The picture given of a shadowy figure Melchizedek.
In verse 3 you might think the Son of God resembles Melchizedek, but the truth is
not that the son of God resembles Melchizedek, but rather, Melchizedek resembles Christ. The author knows as in Luke 24, that all the Old Testament is about him. Melchizedek resembles Jesus in three ways. His name, his title, his genealogy.
1) His name means king of Righteousness, a King who is also righteous. As in Isaiah 9:6, “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (NIV)
2) Melchizedek’s title resembles the son of God—King of Salem, probably reference to Jerusalem. Priest of the Most High God.
3) By genealogy—without father or mother, beginning of days or end of life. Two ways to see this, a literal son of God or a Christophany. Both are problematic. The main idea is that Melchizedek has no genealogy. We have an example in Nehemiah, people had returned, had to demonstrate their descent from Levi. Jesus isn’t in the genealogy; he is excluded from the priesthood. But Melchizedek is a priest, and has no genealogy. He performs the function of priest, receiving tithes, giving blessing. Melchizedek even greater than Levites. Regular priests mortal, Melchizedek lives forever.
Reminds him of when young people interrupt, a mom would say “before you were even dreamed of” to put you in your place. Melchizedek is before the Levitical priesthood, Abraham pays tithes to.
OK, you admit he’s a priest, but how do you get from Melchizedek to Jesus being a better priest?
Hebrews 7:11-28: “If perfection could have been attained through the Levitical priesthood (for on the basis of it the law was given to the people), why was there still need for another priest to come--one in the order of Melchizedek, not in the order of Aaron? For when there is a change of the priesthood, there must also be a change of the law. He of whom these things are said belonged to a different tribe, and no one from that tribe has ever served at the altar. For it is clear that our Lord descended from Judah, and in regard to that tribe Moses said nothing about priests. And what we have said is even more clear if another priest like Melchizedek appears, one who has become a priest not on the basis of a regulation as to his ancestry but on the basis of the power of an indestructible life. For it is declared: “You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek." The former regulation is set aside because it was weak and useless (for the law made nothing perfect), and a better hope is introduced, by which we draw near to God. And it was not without an oath! Others became priests without any oath, but he became a priest with an oath when God said to him: "The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind: You are a priest forever.' “Because of this oath, Jesus has become the guarantee of a better covenant. Now there have been many of those priests, since death prevented them from continuing in office; but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them. Such a high priest meets our need--one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens. 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. For the law appoints as high priests men who are weak; but the oath, which came after the law, appointed the Son, who has been made perfect forever. (NIV)
How can Jesus’ priesthood be better?
Three contrasts: the potential, the power, and the pronouncement.
1) The potential.
v. 11 why was there need for another? If it was perfection you were looking for, why would you need another?
Compare this to the power of Jesus in verses 26-28: Such a high priest meets our need--one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens. 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. For the law appoints as high priests men who are weak; but the oath, which came after the law, appointed the Son, who has been made perfect forever.
Here is a high priest who is perfect in every way. He was yet without sin. Here is a high priest who is not weak. He is for us, he supplies our need, gives us everything we need to stand before God.
This is why living a God centered life depends on looking at Jesus, to his continual intercession on our behalf. Easy to say, “OK Christ you have died for me, but now I’m going to serve as my own priest.” Offer our tithes, our quiet times, our prayers, thinking they will make God like us.
If we turn inward on ourselves we feel condemnation; if we have a good week, then pride sneaks up. We lay down at night and say, “Jesus, you are pleased on me.” We fall off the side of condemnation on one side, and pride on the other. The only way is complete dependence on the work of Christ.
Because of his grace and his mercy it is in Christ that we stand. Here is a high priest who is perfect in every way.
How do we please God? It is by presenting ourselves through Christ, realizing we no longer live but Christ. Constantly remembering this great high priesthood.
We dare not come in our own perfections. In Matthew 5, he says, “be perfect”; who can do that? Hebrews 12 without holiness no one can see God. How can we do that? The Good News is in Chapter 10: he has perfected for all time those who are in him. Abandon every other high priest and look to Christ.
2) The power.
The Levitical priesthood was powered by the law. Like putting kerosene in a rocket and trying to get to the moon. Tells the story when his son Titus was born. He was so happy that he had a boy. Went to a gas station, so excited, noticed something funny about the nozzle but kept putting in the fuel. When he left the station, noticed the car sounded funny. Then it stopped running all together. Then he realized what had happened. He had put diesel in the tank. His car wasn’t meant to run on diesel. Our lives are not made for running on inferior fuel. The law is like diesel in a minivan.
The Levites were depending on being born into the office. The word tells us the law was set aside. Paul tells us the law has no power in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.
Our lives read like Romans 7. Verses 12-17 tell us there has been a shift. Verse 14 tells us our Lord comes from a different place. Jesus assumes the office by the power of an indestructible life, vs. 16. So much glory and truth wrapped up in this phrase, “an indestructible life.”
Verses 23-24, give the implication, Jesus has a permanent priesthood.
John 1:4, “In him was light, and that life was the light of men.” (NIV)
John 5: 26, “For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son to have life in himself.”
John 14:6, “I am the way and the truth and the life.”
1 John 5:11, “And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.”
Life is found only in Jesus, only in Christ.
If you are here and want to live, you must hear, be born again. Your life is ruined by sin. Implore you to save your self by turning to Christ. Christ dies in our place, he offers to you that same power to be at work in you. Turn from sin and trust in Jesus, rely upon him and him alone. He will give you life.
One last contrast:
3) The pronouncements made about this priesthood.
It is perfect, it comes with a better guarantee. God speaking himself in verses 20-22: “And it was not without an oath! Others became priests without any oath, but he became a priest with an oath when God said to him: "The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind: ‘You are a priest forever.' “Because of this oath, Jesus has become the guarantee of a better covenant.”
The author talks about a priesthood that opens a way to God, and says it is by an oath. God said, “The Lord has sworn.” Because of this oath, Jesus has become the guarantee. As for the Levites, no one vouched, no one cosigned. Bu Jesus was sworn for by no less than God himself. You see this at his baptism, when he says, “This is my beloved son.” We hear that God will not change his mind. No election every year, he is king forever.
To have this priest is to have the only one you will ever need, God will not change his mind.
God never spoke an oath about the Levites. Remember Nadab and Abihu? Remember the sons of Eli; did not God put them to death?
This priest (Jesus) was put to death not because of what he had done, but his death is an atonement in payment for our debt. He rose because he offered himself in the power of an indestructible life.
III. We should consider how this matters for us.
Four things that have meaning for us every day.
1) Because Jesus is our great high priest, v.11, we have a better sacrifice, better than any we can make. The mercy of God comes to us in Christ. Any sacrifice we make must be grace motivated. We have a better sacrifice.
2) We possess a better hope and have better worship. Paul tells us in Ephesians 2 that we have a better way, nearness to God. Nearness to God is driven, fueled by, recognition of what Jesus has done for us. As we lean into the reality of what he has done, we grow nearer to God. The gospel brings us nearer to God. Better worship, a better hope. Don’t have to stand off at a distance. Enter into the holy of holies, that we might stand close, draw near and look into his face.
3) Because Jesus has come we are sure of a better relationship with God. We have a binding covenant with God. Now Jesus stands as the co-signer, we stand with the beloved.
Here is the ground of confidence.
Says that he loves the analogy he heard last week; gives credit to Matt Chandler: Babies born with big heads, first months of life can’t do much, first balancing on legs, then soon the head goes out of control, parents think he’s walking. When this happens, never seen a parent complain, rather they say, “He’s walking!” Get the camera, throw a party. As Christians we stumble and fall, and the devil says we’re idiots, but God says, “He’s my son.
This one’s mine, look at him learn to walk. Get the camera. This is going to be for my glory.”
4) Because we have a better intercessor, because Jesus has a permanent priesthood, he lives always to intercede. He doesn’t die, all others die. He lives to plead for us. We have an advocate. When we are fighting sin, blood better than Able pleads our cause. Christ pleads for us. Are we joyless, depressed, our strength exhausted? Who intercedes? Jesus, who always lives to make intercession.
The god centered life is a life that turns to Jesus. He is our sacrifice who opens the way.
Live the God centered life by meditating on the fact that Jesus is our great high priest.