The point that the writer of Hebrews is making is so important to him (and to us), that he continues with his point that Jesus Christ, our High Priest, is in heaven ministering for us.
It would be easy, too easy, to have acknowledged this incredible truth yesterday, and then to go on as if it were nothing to us. But the writer of Hebrews, dazzled by his vision of Jesus, does not want us to drift away or apostasize, and so he makes sure we know who this Jesus Christ is.
One of the things that most strikes me today is the continuing humility of Jesus Christ. Remember that the Jesus Christ that the writer of Hebrews is telling you about is the same Jesus Christ that St. John saw in Revelation 1. He is the resurrected and ascended Lord, in heaven in glory. He is the heir of all things, the Maker of the Worlds, and the brightness of the glory of the Father.
And yet it He still ministers to us. I can understand this (even though it’s very humbling to me), when it’s Jesus of Nazareth, the man, washing the feet of Peter. But to see that Jesus Christ the Spotless Lamb of God enthroned between the cherubim and surrounded by the 4 Living Creatures and the 24 elders and seated on His rainbow throne is also Jesus Christ my High Priest who continues to minister to me out-miracles even the other miracles of His that I’ve gotten used to.
In verse 1, the writer of Hebrews plainly tells us that we have a High Priest who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens. But in verse 2, he tells us that this same High Priest who is seated in glory is a minister of the sanctuary, that is the true tabernacle where God dwells with man.
Every earthly priest offers gifts and sacrifices, and so it is no different for our heavenly High Priest. If even the priests at the mere copy and shadow, which disappeared forever shortly after the writer of Hebrews is writing, offered gifts, how much more must the true High Priest in the true Tabernacle and Temple offer a true gift. But what could this gift possibly be? If we remember that the gift that priests offer is a sacrifice, what sacrifice could Christ possibly offer?
As our High Priest, He continually offers Himself to the Father on our behalf. When He petitions the prayer for little Charlie Erlandson here on earth, He doesn’t come before the Father empty-handed. With His prayers He offers Himself. He says to the Father, as He is praying for me, for you: “Father, accept My prayers on behalf of My servant, even as You accept my sacrifice on behalf of My servant.”
Though Christ’s sacrifice on earth was full, perfect, and sufficient and unrepeatable, in heaven that completed act has an eternal and heavenly significance. It is, I believe, as if the power and glory of Christ’s sacrifice and entire ministry is all presently available and eternally present before the Father. In other words, I don’t think that Jesus Christ was once a High Priest because once in the past He offered a sacrifice but that now He has nothing to do but bask in the glory and completion of what He once did on earth.
The writer of Hebrews clearly believes that Jesus Christ has a continuing priestly function. I don’t wish to engage in any further speculation, but I do believe that Jesus Christ continually offers Himself to the Father for us, continuing His earthly ministry but now in a more perfect and heavenly way.
If I’m even partially right, then this ought to be a source of infinite comfort and joy to us (comfort and joy!) It would mean that we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous, who is continually making intercession for us. This Advocate is also our Mediator and is Sacrifice, Priest, and Temple, all of which He continues to offer the Father in heaven for us. This Jesus Christ in glory, the King of kings and Lord of lords, continues to serve us, even from His throne.
It would be just like Jesus to do something so extravagant and extraordinary on behalf of miserable little sinners like me (it is I, and not my sins, that are little).
Some may feel a desire to pray to the saints or ask them for help. But with what little time I have on earth, and what a miniscule fraction of that time I spend in prayer, I’m going straight to the top. I want to petition the One who petitions the Father on my behalf, and who I know is always heard (even when the Father says “NO!”)
In fact, I’m going to the Throne Room right now. Anyone care to join me?
Prayer: My Lord Jesus Christ, who rose again from the dead on the third day and ascended into heaven and now sits at the right hand of the Father, I pray that You would intercede for me today, as my High Priest. I bring before you, as your priest, myself, my body, mind, and soul, my praise and thanksgiving, my deepest needs and desires and petitions, and my confession of my sins. I ask that You would receive my sacrifices that I might be able to accept Yours on my behalf. Amen.
Point for Meditation: Meditate on how having Jesus Christ as your High Priest in heaven, seated in glory with the Father, should motivate you to pray more.
Resolution: I resolve to spend additional time today in prayer, in the presence of Christ on His throne, as He intercedes for me.
© 2013 Fr. Charles Erlandson
Category: Give Us This Day