Monday of the 3rd Sunday after Easter – Hebrews 9:15-27

| April 22, 2013 | 0 Comments More

Christ the High PriestHebrews 9:15-27

“For Christ has not entered the holy places made with hands, which are the copies of the true, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us” (verse 24).

Jesus Christ, the spotless Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world, is the perfect sacrifice for your sins.  His perfect blood was shed, and His perfect life was offered as a sacrifice on behalf of those whose lives are so imperfect that when their own blood is shed it means only death.  Jesus Christ is the perfect High Priest who offers Himself as the one perfect sacrifice.  His Body itself is the perfect Temple, but that Body carried with it the perfect sacrifice and perfect High Priest up into highest heaven where it now sits at the right hand of the Majesty.

It is this perfect Sacrifice, High Priest, and Temple that now appears in the presence of God for you.  And though Jesus Christ is now in heaven, and you and I are still on earth, His priestly love for us has everything in the world to do with us.

There are so many obstacles to my seeing what Jesus Christ is doing for me that I can barely see the Truth.  I have, first of all, a problem with time.  I read all about what God has done for me in the past, and I read about all of the great saints of the past, and I think about what Jesus Christ has accomplished. Or I think sometimes about what God will do and about what life will be like in heaven, after He comes again to resurrect me and bring me into His perfect Presence.  The work of Jesus Christ seems sometimes to be either all done or all still to come.  But what about now?

I have a problem with space, too.  In the past, Jesus Christ died over there, and now He lives in heaven up there.  But I’m still stuck down here, and so Jesus Christ sometimes seems to be there and everywhere – except for here, where I am.

I have a problem with animation, with life.  I see Jesus Christ and what He has done, is doing, and will do in stick figure drawings or the little line drawings of the Good News Bible (Today’s English Version) instead of on a big screen movie in the theater of my life.  What a contrast!  My life is always one big multimedia experience in which I am the writer, director, star, and audience, and God is a few stick figure drawings in that life.

It’s not how I want things to be, but it is, alas, how things often are for me.

Until I come into the sanctuary of the Lord, and then I begin to see things as they really are.  When I come to the sanctuary of the Lord, the Holy of holies, the Throne of Grace, I begin to see pictures of a flaming and brilliant Jesus Christ.  I begin to see my High Priest in heaven, and the heavens begin to open a crack.  I begin to catch a few glimpses not just of what was or what will be but what now is, for God is not the great HAS BEEN or WILL BE but the great I AM.  He is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and the God of my future grandchildren.  But He is also my God, here and now.

Lately, ever since I’ve been writing Give Us This Day and especially ever since seeing Revelation 1, He’s been showing me just a little more of Himself.

I see Jesus Christ ascending into heaven in human form, and I think about how He was the first human to even enter fully into heaven.  The Son has been in heaven eternally, but as Jesus Christ, the God-man, He was born on earth, matured on earth, died on earth, and resurrected on earth.  But when He ascended, He ascended into heaven and became the first man to land on heaven.  That may have been one small step for Him, but it was one giant leap for mankind, and now humanity is actually in heaven, through Jesus Christ, our Priest.

This priest, once a sacrifice and priest on earth but now the Sacrifice and Priest in heaven, was sacrificed only once, because His sacrifice was so powerful, it took the first time.  But its presence and power continue both in heaven and on earth.  It reminds me of the final chord of the Beatles’ “A Day in the Life.”  The piano chord is struck only once.  But its sound and fury, its power and meaning, seem to go on forever and ever.

Jesus Christ who has entered heaven, entered heaven for you and for me.  As our High Priest, He continues to serve us from heaven.  The power and the glory of His sacrifice continue for us in heaven.  He represents us, in His humanity, up in heaven.  We are so united to Jesus Christ, in a mystical reality, that He is not only here on earth with us through His Holy Spirit but we are also with Him in heaven (Ephesians 2:6).

Our High Priest also pronounces His priestly benediction upon us, saying, “I, the Lord, bless you, I keep you; I make My face shine on you and am gracious to you; I lift up My countenance upon you, and give you peace.”  And what He has pronounced in heaven comes to pass here on earth, through the ministry of the Spirit, and through the Church, His Body.

United with Christ as we are and represented by Him in heaven, we represent Him here on earth and are His Body now.  Because of our real union with Christ, the Holy Spirit connects us with Him through the Word, the Sacraments, and the Church.

And he intercedes for us.  United to us, knowing our temptations and weaknesses, having borne our sins, He intercedes for us.  Though His suffering on the Cross is done, He continues to suffer with His people and continues to take upon Him our yokes and our crosses.  Our Christ is not one who saved us only by dying for us: He now lives in the intimate Presence of the Father and intercedes for us, by name.

WARNING: What you are about to read is highly speculative and may not be suitable for all readers!  (Well, not really, but it does make it seem more exciting, doesn’t it?)
We know that the highly imperfect high priest of the Old Covenant carried the names of the tribes of Israel with Him when He offered His sacrifices in the Holy of holies.  I believe that Jesus Christ carries each and every one of our names into heaven with Him and presents them before the Father.  Furthermore, since He is the Word, I believe that He is the Book of Life, into whom our names are written, on whose Person they are inscribed.  When Isaiah saw a vision of God, the train of His robe filled the temple, because of His glory.  I wonder if somewhere on that train is written every name that He is bringing continually before the Father.

{Speculation Mode Off.}

This is a little of what it means that Jesus Christ now appears in heaven in the presence of the Father for us.

Now how will you and I respond today, now that we have seen a little more?

Prayer:  Father, I come into your Presence through the blood and life and ministry of Jesus Christ, my Lord.  I ask that You will accept my prayers and my life today, not on account of who I am or what I have done, but on account of Jesus Christ, Your Son, who intercedes for me and whose Blood was offered for me.  Help me, Father, to see You today, through Your Son, and when I have seen You to faithfully respond with faith and obedience, with confession and repentance, and with praise and thanksgiving.  Through the Blood of Jesus Christ and the intercession of my High Priest, Amen. 

Point for Meditation:  Meditate on how having a picture of Christ and His priestly role in heaven can transform the way you see your life on earth here and now. 

Resolution:  I resolve to practice remembering Jesus Christ today, as He remembers me before the Father.  I resolve to stop and spend time in specific acts of prayer, remembering Him and responding as He directs me. 

© 2013 Fr. Charles Erlandson

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Category: Give Us This Day

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