At Christmas we are often given to imagine Jesus as a little babe. At Easter we may see Him as the risen and victorious Lord. Now, in the weeks before Holy Week and the Passion we may have other images of Jesus in His suffering, humiliation, humanity, or some other way. In today’s Epistle reading we are invited to view Jesus as our Great High Priest.
The high priest’s role was to serve as go-between God and humanity. That was his office. His job was to make sacrifices for God’s people and to serve as the focal point for God’s people when they wanted to approach God in thanksgiving, supplication, or praise.
The writer to the Hebrews made his point abundantly clear. He wrote: “(Jesus) became the Author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him, 10 called by God as High Priest ‘according to the order of Melchizedek.’”
As the Great High Priest Jesus was much more that simply high priest for a nation-state. He was God’s sacrifice to Himself for the sins of all humanity – men, women, and children of every tribe and race and age. (Now if this sounds confusing, don’t worry. God simply took the extra-ordinary step of giving His Only Begotten Son to be the Redeemer of sinful humanity – the whole world.) This is what our Epistle reading is all about. It was for this reason that Jesus became a human being, suffered, died, and rose victorious even over death and the grave.
Posted on March 18, 2018 6:24 AM
The man told his adversary, “I can forgive you, but I will never forget what you did.”
While I am not sure what the man’s motivation was, I do not believe it was true forgiveness. Whether it was a trust betrayed, a daughter wronged, a son killed or maimed, it really doesn’t matter. That person’s heart was hardened against the malefactor to the point that his mind was made-up. There would be no forgiveness. Sometimes people are like that, I guess.”
But maybe people shouldn’t be like that. Maybe people should be more like our Heavenly Father. After all, where would sinners be if God didn’t forget their sins when He forgave them? How would we fare if God remembered the sins of our youth or other indiscretions? In the Bible there are many examples of time when people sinned, and God forgave. Adam and Eve, David and Bathsheba, drunken Noah, denying Peter, and so many more.
And this brings me to a second point – just what is forgiveness? It is much more than simply letting past sins, hurts, errors or mistake slip past without punishment or retribution. In Psalm 25:7 King David prayed that God would not remember his past sins or transgressions. He sought complete and lasting forgiveness for his sins. We should too because any sin can, and every sin will condemn a soul to hell.
This brings me to my third point – Jesus tells us that we should forgive those who sin against us. The only way to approach this issue is to take God’s approach. When God forgives a sinner, it is complete. That is how it should be with us when someone hurts us, too.
When Jesus taught His disciples to ask for forgiveness as they forgive others, He was instructing them to treat others as God treated them. It is no different for us today. We pray that for Jesus’ sake God will forgive us as readily as we forgive those who sin against us.
“Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy Name. Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”
Posted on March 15, 2018 7:20 AM
Our text this week contains some of the most often quoted verses of Scripture – Ephesians 2:8 & 9. “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” They are a wonderfully clear statement of how a sinner is saved from the curse of his sin. What I want to do today is to draw your attention to verse 10.
It begins with a gift – the free gift we call salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. It is something we need because of our sins and sinfulness. Like a small child we may be tempted to ask, “What do I do with it now?” (Like it was an unexpected and surprising gift – which it truly is). St. Paul gives us the answer in verse 10. “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
This gift was purchased with the bloody price of Jesus’ death on the Calvary cross and His rest in the borrowed tomb. It was accepted by our heavenly Father and assured to Jesus’ followers the next Sunday morning when Jesus rose victorious from His grave. It was sealed by God the Father when Jesus ascended back into heaven to prepare homes for His followers.
All this took place so that we sinners could be and do what by our very nature we could never be or accomplish – walk in good works.
When we fail in this because of Satanic temptation, human weakness, or simple ignorance or sloth we have an out – Jesus! It is as Paul wrote: We are “saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”
Posted on March 11, 2018 5:50 AM