Practical Proverbial, from Hebrews, 1 March 2017

If he were on earth, he would not be a priest, for there are already priests who offer the gifts prescribed by the law.  Hebrews 8, verse 4.

Does it matter more that Jesus is a priest, a savior, or a man?   Especially in light of the fact that today is Ash Wednesday?

“The Shack” will be released in theaters tomorrow and I’m excited to see it.  My wife and I already have tickets reserved.  If you haven’t read the book, it’s a story of forgiveness, redemption, and a personal relationship with God that heals the deepest wounds.  The first time my wife and I each read the book, we were struggling with an affair, separation, and our marriage breaking down in many ways.  The book really helped us because it portrayed the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost in ways we hadn’t ever thought of Them.  Jesus especially was portrayed as a man with whom you could relate, someone with whom you’d want to be friends but who was, undoubtedly, still very much fully God while being fully man.   After all, if Jesus were here on earth, He would just be a man.   He was once before; He has promised to return here as a man again.   He was the God-man on earth two thousand years ago; He will be the God-man on earth when He returns.   I suspect that, like the Jesus in “The Shack,” the Jesus I’ll know then will be that fully God/fully man He is and was and will also be someone I’d really like to personally know.   There’s a lot I’d like to talk over with Him.

To be fair, it’s tough to take verses out of context from the verses around them.   We shouldn’t draw all our conclusions about this verse (or any verse in the Bible) simply by looking at it and it alone.  Accordingly, verses 1-6 of Hebrews 8 say the following:  “Now the main point of what we are saying is this: We do have such a high priest, who sat down at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, and who serves in the sanctuary, the true tabernacle set up by the Lord, not by a mere human being.  Every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices, and so it was necessary for this one also to have something to offer.  If he were on earth, he would not be a priest, for there are already priests who offer the gifts prescribed by the law. They serve at a sanctuary that is a copy and shadow of what is in heaven. This is why Moses was warned when he was about to build the tabernacle: “See to it that you make everything according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.”  But in fact the ministry Jesus has received is as superior to theirs as the covenant of which he is mediator is superior to the old one, since the new covenant is established on better promises”

Again, fair enough.   What I hope you get out of reading that whole section in total is that Jesus serves as a priest so as to encourage our spirits.   We are part of God’s heaven now.   We are in God’s presence now.   We are fully forgiven, fully saved, fully redeemed, fully ready right now to die and go into eternity to spend eternity in our God’s presence forever.   All that is true – amen indeed – because of what Jesus did.   His death and resurrection permanently crushed death in our lives.   Believe in Him and there’s nothing you ever have to do to earn, improve on, or deserve that gift of life.   Today, if you go to an Ash Wednesday service, it’s good to remember these things as believers all across the planet prepare themselves for a few weeks of contemplation, repentance, and celebration of what Jesus means to them.

Yet don’t get wrapped around the axle about it, especially when a minister smears a few palm ashes on your head.   Don’t forget that this majestic Jesus is indeed truly majestic, glorious, and all-powerful, all-beautiful.   He’s the only man in all of history who could fulfill the priestly role to be an intermediary between God the Father and sinful you (and me).  He’s the only person to perfectly fulfill all Scripture and all the prophecies contained in it.  Yet He’s also very much the Jesus in “The Shack”.   As much as He’s the glorious Jesus from eternity, He’s also the barefoot guy in jeans and a shirt who likes to spend time by the lake, just talking and sharing Himself with you as a friend.   I’ll gladly and thankfully worship my Risen Savior.   Even more gladly and thankfully, I look forward to sharing a beer and a burger with Him some day.

For further reading:  Hebrews 5:1, 9:9

My Lord and my friend, thank You for being the wonderful man You are.   Thank You for relating to me and for being my friend as well as so much more.

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